Who does Mary like more, infertiles or mothers?

I wrote this first part when I was pregnant…and never got around to publishing it.  Finished it up with some more thoughts.

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The title is joke.  Sort of.  I was asked a question two weeks ago that stopped me dead in my tracks.  Mostly because it seemed like such a simple question but I hadn’t even considered it.  Which naturally, made me feel like a bad Catholic.  I was talking with a family member (on my husband’s side) about faith and getting through tough situations and how just like our fertility issues, “there would always be some difficulty to get past in life and if you have faith, you’ll see how it was always meant to be and for the best” (which always makes me grit my teeth a little because of course there is some truth to that but it’s not total truth and fertility issues are really unique, especially primary infertility, some situations will only make sense in Heaven and since you can only have a conversation like this after you know someone can get pregnant, right? WHEW.).  It was then that the question came

“When I was pregnant, I just felt so close to Mary.  Because, you know, she was pregnant with Jesus just like I was pregnant and having that commonalty was just so special.  Have you felt that this pregnancy?”

Short answer:  No.  Not at all.

Bad Catholic?

I’m still trying to figure that one out.  Maybe part of it is my Protestant background, maybe some of it is my relationship with my own mother, but I think a bigger part is that Mary and I had to come to an understanding when I was in the depths of it, and that experience is still pretty fresh.  I can’t remember if I’ve written this story here, but I’ll retell it anyway.

I will first say that my husband, like most Catholics, does have a special place in his heart for Mary.  He would encourage me to ask her to pray for us and appreciates the beauty of the statues of Mary and usually stops to say a prayer at whatever church we’re at.  I always struggled with this because almost every image of Mary has her holding a baby Jesus.  Depicted as the ultimate Mother, she was something I could only dream of and on the superficial level, it seemed we had nothing in common.  Why would she want to listen to me let alone ask the Creator of the Universe to answer my prayers?

It was after mass one time when the tears had been flowing and it had been a rough couple of weeks that my husband motioned that we should just go lay it all out to our Mother Mary and really ask for her prayers and comfort.  We were heading over to the corner of the church to pray, with the candles and kneelers, literally walking directly towards it down the aisle and were like 5 feet away from the kneelers when out of nowhere this pregnant girl literally cut us off and knelt down, taking up all the space.  I think I immediately had tears streaming down my cheeks.  It might seem melodramatic, but that really was how the situation happened.  It was as if my worst fears about Mary having no need to hear my pleas was confirmed true.  Of course, this pregnant woman’s requests were much more to her liking, I was just this penitential child upset by what I didn’t have and there was all the physical proof I needed.  Mary just said “let it be done to me”, she didn’t know and had no reason to know what it was like to beg for the gift of being a mother.  Getting a miracle pregnancy vs. trying really hard and it not happening aren’t exactly the same situation.  I left church almost hysterical and my poor husband didn’t have any clue what was going on until I could gather the emotions to tell him how that was the pinnacle act of what I had always feared in my heart which means my fears must be true.

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I don’t remember when it happened exactly, but probably somewhere in there due to my husband’s chiding of course (I don’t come to these things on my own usually) I knew I had to stop being mad at Mary for something that was clearly in my own head.  The Mother of God couldn’t, wouldn’t, DIDN’T love me less because of that pregnant girl I saw.  I don’t know why it took  me so long, but I had (finally) had a vision of Mary at the Passion.   I had even played this role in a Passion play several years before this, but I guess I just forget things quickly.  I realized that the image we see of Mary, possibly more often than her holding baby Jesus, is of her holding Jesus after the crucifixion:

Mary holding her son, her dead son.  Knowing grief is central to Mary.  I don’t know how I missed it before.   A very wise friend of mine told me once after her miscarriage that she realized she couldn’t protect her child from the one final thing in this world, death.  Infertility itself is like watching your child die every month …(miscarriage being that in reality)…Mary understands infertiles very, very well.  She knows the pain of being helpless and of grieving a child taken for reasons beyond your control.  I guess this is how I made peace with Mary.  And I realize that sounds absurd, “making peace with Mary”, but our experiences have a profound way of shaping us.

So its not a ‘competition’ as I have oft to make things.  Or an ‘either or’.  Mother Mary is there for us in different phases of our lives, we just have to ask for her help.

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The Infertility Companion for Catholics: A blog book tour and giveaway!

Today I have the pleasure of introducing a new resource that maybe all of us at one time or another wish existed.  In fact, maybe its lack started us to writing about infertility on our blogs or made us start a blog all together.

An actual book about infertility for Catholics!  Novel idea, eh?

The book is The Infertility Companion for Catholics: Spiritual and Practical Support for Couples, written by Angelique Ruhi-López and Carmen Santamaría and published by Ava Maria Press.

The idea for this book was born out of the experience of two friends, Angelique and Carmen, who live in Florida and who both had unexpected obstacles in their journeys to growing their families, including infertility and secondary infertility.  While they didn’t journey simultaneously (first one friend, then the other), their shared experiences helped them to see the need for a very Catholic resource and eventually drove them to write this book. Over these next two weeks you’ll see from the schedule here that a bunch of different bloggers will be participating in the “Blog Book Tour” to give you reviews, excerpts, interviews, and giveaways surrounding the release of this book, which has been scheduled to conveniently coincide with Infertility Awareness Week, April 22-28th.  How smart is that?

Angelique and Carmen, just hanging out, writing books together :)

The book title does say a lot about whats in it: practical and spiritual support.  When I first heard about this book I really did think to myself (and maybe out loud), Oh please don’t be just another Catholic book telling us don’t do IVF.  Don’t get me wrong, for many people, this is an important topic that needs to be clarified from the get go.  We’ve all heard that “Oh, my friend so and so did IVF and she was Catholic” so clearly, this is an important moral question that needs to be addressed and discussed in a very loving manner because many, many people out their haven’t heard this message.  However, I was just praying that this book didn’t stop there!  To tell someone what treatments are off limits without offering the alternatives and support to make it through a now even more estranged journey (which is where most Catholic materials I’ve read seem to stop) is a bit like – forgive the bad analogy – throwing someone in an ocean, telling them they can’t use a raft, and then expecting them to just learn to swim and make it back to dry land on their own.  Sure, maybe some will figure it out, but a great deal of people will struggle and flail in the process.

So back to the book, the first chapter reads very instructive and well, practical.  Helping the reader to answer the question if they meet the scientific definition of infertility and a rundown of some common diagnoses.  Before going into what the Church teaches about artificial reproductive technologies (ART), there is a great little chapter about what our faith has to do with infertility at all, including references to familiar bible stories and a background to theology of the body.  For many, this is the confusing leap between why the church is even concerned with what couples do privately, and I loved that this was included before the actual details of the Church’s stance on ART! Afterwards there is a chapter on treatment options available for Catholics which addresses specific and again, practical concerns that Catholic may have with traditional approaches to infertility treatment and how best to navigate that path, including both author’s experiences.

Finding the correct spiritual support is a huge part of making it through experiencing infertility in one piece and even then it can be a close call.  This was where we get to my favorite part of the book!  The part that I was really hungry for, help finding the meaning and peace in the midst of all the cloudy emotions and remembering Jesus in all of it.  The next few chapters, Discerning God’s Will, The Cross of Infertility, and Bearing the Cross: A Spirituality of Infertility, all address these more intangible difficulties of infertility while calling us out of the darkness of despair to remember our purpose as Christians.

Probably the most valuable part of the book for me was the description and explanation of the St. Ignatius spiritual discernment exercise.  This can obviously be found elsewhere, but the application to one’s own infertility journey is very, very valuable and a good reminder to what its really all about.  And this is where I will give props to my husband for “being right” and I will hopefully not upset the blogging community too much, but this is an extremely big advantage to not blogging about every detail of the infertility journey and is probably why as some point along our paths, most of us have taken a step back from doing so.  This community provides an invaluable resource of support and love in what is otherwise a very isolating journey.  However, discerning the next steps in something so personal and spiritually important as the steps tied to the growth of your family is really between you, your husband, and God.  But saying that and knowing how to do it so you get that calm and peace in your soul are two different things.  The St. Ignatius steps laid out in this book were extremely helpful to proper discernment for dealing with any big decision, but especially infertility related ones since it can get so confusing emotionally.  Its always good to remember to have that quiet time between just you and God to pour your heart out and then really, truly listen.  Good stuff!

There’s a lot more to this book, including a very necessary chapter from Carmen’s husband talking about the male perspective of male factor infertility which I applaud him for writing and telling a much needed perspective that is non-existent in the blog-world, as well as a chapter on Infertility’s Effect on Marriage, dealing with The Loss of Miscarriage (including instructions on what to physically do after a miscarriage as well as support network resources), and Opting to Adopt.  There is also a great chapter on How Family and Friends Can Help, which would be great to give if you’re having difficulty explaining to those trying to understand infertility how they can support their loved ones and that in a mine field of things not to say, there really are things that can help.

The fact that the book was peppered with inspiring quotes, bible verses, and catechism references makes it very biblical and Catholic resource that really helps tie the suffering of infertility directly to our faith.  Each chapter has a list of further references at the end that will help the reader find more information on a topic of interest.  Although at times it can be confusing to remember who is writing each chapter (Angelique and Carmen switch on and off) and it would have been nice to have a reminder as each chapter started, a strength of this book really is the perspective of two women, one who faced infertility and one who is currently facing infertility.  The difference in tone of their writing is subtle, but perhaps its like reading the blogs of women who have become pregnant and had children vs. those that are still in the midst of the struggle.  There is a difference, maybe a wisdom or confidence that comes from experiencing faith and prayers completed vs. an inspiring  rawness of someone still following faithfully in the struggle that makes a difference in relate-ability and ultimately makes the book a stronger resource for all of those dealing with infertility.  It is really a great resource for those starting off on this journey or looking for more resources to support them along the way.

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 Finally, in being given a chance to read and review this book I was also given the opportunity to give one away to a reader!  I’ve never actually done a giveaway before but am super excited to be able to have this as a giveaway prize!

Anyone can enter and the rules are simple: just leave a comment with your name (or pseudonym), email (only I will see your email – so I can tell you you won!) and one thing that you would look forward most about reading this book.  Or the one thing you wish this book would address if you didn’t see it addressed up there.  If you don’t feel comfortable commenting I’ll accept an email entry as well :)

I’ll close the comments in a week, April 24th, aka Baby Moonhead’s “official” LMP due date, select a winner at random and send you this book!

You can either try to win this book for yourself or for a friend who you know would appreciate it, both are great ideas!

Thanks again for reading and a special thanks to Angelique and Carmen for letting me get a head-start on the blog tour to accommodate for our blessed extenuating circumstances over here!

Sarah’s Hope – An infertility retreat opportunity!

Who needs a retreat?

Who wants to go to Texas?

This is what Texas looks like in April!

I wanted to share this opportunity with anyone who’s interested in attending a weekend day retreat for those struggling to conceive or dealing with pregnancy loss.  This is seriously an answer to many prayers, so I hope someone finds this information useful or can send it to someone who would be interested!  Sent to me by a friend in Austin, Texas!

We are excited to announce the date of our first retreat for couples struggling to conceive or with pregnancy loss! You and your spouse are invited to join us on Saturday, April 28, 2012 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Schoenstatt Shrine in west Austin (225 Addie Roy Road, Austin, TX) at the Sarah’s Hope & Abraham’s Promise Retreat!

The retreat will feature discussion on topics related to Catholic fertility issues as well as the opportunity for reconciliation and a Healing Mass with Fr. Charlie Garza from Santa Cruz Parish in Buda. We are delighted and humbled that our Prayer Team will be praying for us throughout the day at Eucharistic Adoration. Let us know if you know of anyone who’s not officially on our Prayer Team who might want to take part in a holy hour for us on April 28th to pray for our intentions!

The day promises to be a beautiful one that will renew us on our journeys to parenthood, so please go ahead and e-mail us at SarahsHopeAustin@gmail.com or call (512) 736-7334 to register for the retreat. We’d like to get a headcount so we can plan accordingly. There is a $30 suggested donation to attend, and lunch will be provided.

If either you or your spouse are unable to attend, we’d still love to have either one of you, so please join us if either can make it.

Let us know if you have any questions! It is our sincere hope that you will prayerfully consider attending.

In Christ,
Cari, Erin and Jen

Please contact me or the email/phone numbers above for more information.

Here’s also more information about the monthly support group.

SarahsHopeFlyer

If you do end up going, it would be nice to hear how the weekend went so that we can incorporate some things into our group out here in California.  Thank you!

My instincts were right after all!!

A retraction to the retraction!

This is probably old news by now, but I’m feeling like a little vindication after writing this post.

A little summary here:

Apparently I was dead wrong when I wrote this post.  I never formerly apologized for being dead wrong, but I am now.  I’m sorry!!  It turns out Beyoncé just really knows how to dodge media questions.  Well played Beyoncé, well played.  At first I thought, well with an out of the world pregnancy announcement like that – and as excited as Jay-Z looked – maybe they did have troubles?  But I’m pretty sure that was just the work of a diva entertainer putting on an over the top announcement that no sub/infertile would have the gall to pull off.  What do you think?

I had found a quote by Jay-z, and of course I can’t find it now, but it was something along the lines of, “you think you know how you life will go and then you realize its not up to you.”  Which was attributed to Beyonce being a meany and keeping him from having kids but, from the lines in his new song, apparently they did have some fertility issues (from his song, at least one miscarriage – don’t know if that’s quite sub-fertility, but still!).  I was right!  (Pat myself on the back for calling that one way back when).

Here’s the song, in case you’re looking for the proof.

For the record, I read the lyrics in an article and that’s how I found out :)  I am the gossip queen though!

2012: The year of our baby

First it was Advent.  Then it was Christmas.  And then New Year’s.

All going by without so much as a quiet (written) reflection.  Sigh.

Many things seem like a blur lately and its hard to find time to pick up our house let alone do anything else.  We did just get back home from a multi-stop trip visiting family across the states.  I figured it was time to seize the day and make it happen because who knows when we’d be able to again.  Perhaps I underestimated how tiring of a trip it would be,  especially factoring in the two days of remote working due to a conveniently placed project deadline.

One thing for sure is that its become more of a reality that this baby is indeed making its way here, and sooner rather than later.  That was probably the biggest realization of the new year.  2012.  This is year of our baby.  Wow.  I can gather how it seems contrived that its taking so long for it to sink in, but with half of my time spent at work and the rest spent mostly sleeping or eating, its been hard to find time to do anything else and the shock still lingers.  I guess somewhere in there though, I can see how just as its hard for someone to understand what its like to go through sub/infertility, its hard to fathom how you’ll react on the other side of it as well.  I remember commenting on probably several blogs that I never understood why women who get pregnant don’t just skip off happily into the sunset.  I really didn’t get it.  The best way to put to my former self, is that it feels like everything is right with the world because you finally have everything you had longed for, but to still KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that its really not, that there are still people really suffering a great isolating, sorrow.  And to have those people be your close friends you walked shoulder to shoulder with or didn’t even know existed, it doesn’t matter.  That’s the way the world has always been, I realize, but going through the transition just takes it to a whole new level of reality on a personal level.  I guess I was just naive before, or thought the world was limited to physical poverty, not the spiritual/emotional kind that exists even in the land of plenty.  But even then physical poverty can be somewhat alleviated by money/time donations.  What is there to do for the other sorrows?  Prayer, listening ears and hearts, and more prayer.

But I won’t beat a dead horse.

I really am making efforts to make this pregnancy a reality.  Well, I’ve been reading birth/parenting books since the start of the second trimester and we have even watched two birth videos already (yes WE, my husband is convinced that baby is just gonna slide right out…which makes me wonder if we’re even watching the same videos).  And yes, I even made a facebook update that covertly mentioned the baby.  Radical, I know.  We may even register for a few big baby things now that I know a shower may be in the works in a few weeks, you know, in case any rich relatives want to come out of the woodwork and help us out.

And perhaps most relevant, I created a baby/momma progress page, accessible from over there on the sidebar.  So those of you that want to, and when you want to, can see some photographic evidence of what’s growing on over here.  And I can share these photos I’ve been clinging to, desperate to see some sort of proof that there is something growing and that change is evident.  At this point, I think it is (that and the kicking is telling me so).

As I’ve always struggled with confidence and humility, this girl who still thinks I fooled a department into giving me a PhD, somehow tricked a company into giving me a job (they probably think that too now that they know I’m pregnant), and could probably give a very decent excuse for why anything good has ever happened to me, I know beyond any doubt that I really did nothing to deserve this pregnancy.  And I will not stop saying it, because it feels good to admit complete inadequacy.

I could not have earned this if I tried.  Lord, thank you for teaching me that.

Expounding on those thoughts

I think this is what I get for trying to post something quickly.  I appreciate your comments on yesterday’s post and through them I realized how incomplete the thought was I wrote about.  I realized it was when I wrote it, but hoped maybe it could stand on its own still just to get me pressing “publish” again.  But I guess this way works too, as it speeds up my follow-up post :)

I can’t find the right word to describe my feelings yesterday, but I settled on guilt.  Really, I doubt that’s the right word and I know its far more complicated, so I’ll try to delve into it here.  Please preemptively forgive my rambling.  And if you do read, please try to stick through to the end, I promise I don’t gush the whole time.

All I knew in those first few weeks was I was using words like surreal, unbelievable, and shocked to describe what it was like to find out about this pregnancy.  While I still look down and feel a tiny kick and wonder, how did this amazing thing happen?, I felt like I had been the poorest person in the world and just won the largest lottery pool ever, with no strings attached.  As stupid as that sounds, that’s literally no exaggeration.  Sure, I was worried about miscarriage,  but it was like all I could do was stand there with my hands shaking in front of my face and my eyes bugged out, just shocked for a good, oh, until just a few weeks ago when I realized this baby is sticking around so we should probably start planning things.  But this huge burden that has been dragging me down for these years?  Completely lifted.  My life would change forever by this abstract baby growing in my belly (abstract in the sense that it was still 9 months away and unknown to the outside world).

It already changed everything.  Literally, everything.

This was not like I got a new job, this was a new life, a new purpose, a new everything.  Our financial situation hasn’t been an issue, but my mood?  Instantaneously better.  My husband is shocked at who I am now and how, despite my fears that HCG make me crazy, I really think it was just not conceiving with HCG.  As in, not conceiving was making me crazy.  He says I’m more calm than ever.  Our disagreements have dramatically reduced and its like we’re joyful newlyweds again, all the time.

I wish I could lie to those of you still waiting and say, Oh, its not really that great.  Its overrated and you’re just being impatient.  It won’t really fix everything.  But I’d be lying through my teeth*.  Even despite these moments of worry, this is better than I ever thought it could be.  I know, this is probably not what you want to hear, but it just hammered home how not conceiving is such suffering precisely because it is such an absence of an innate good.  While not every pregnancy is an ideal situation, every child is still a miracle.  And that is was every woman and couple struggling to conceieve knows with every fiber of her being and that’s precisely why it hurts so much to get passed over.  I don’t need to tell you this.

What I am surprised about is how much just that thought makes me crumble when I think about those still waiting. How something so seemingly simple and unearned can literally change my whole outlook on life.  How big of an impact it had on all aspects of my life…but that I did nothing to deserve and was  never in the position to choose this.  There have literally been nights when my husband has come home to find me bawling on the couch just thinking about women that can never have children, never have this joy I feel just at the potential and the life growing inside my womb.  Not in a pity way but in a profound, this would be horrible to miss out on way.  An everyone who desires this should have this way.   Now that I’ve felt this joy, that pain feels so, so much deeper.  What’s more is I feel that all pregnant women know this in their hearts but its so powerful and sad that they literally cannot think about it without loosing it.  I’ve had pregnant women tell me that before “Oh, I just can’t even think about sad things or I’ll start crying.”  Maybe its the ability to feel the world’s pain more precisely, since you start to care for someone else so deeply, but it is so real. [And it makes all those women who don’t sympathize with women who don’t conceieve seem like such a foreign thing…it makes me conclude they are the people who just don’t think deeply about things.]  And I remember how I was there, I was just there, just moments before this.  The emotions so perfectly juxtaposed made it an even more emotional time.  Suffering alongside for so long and it was like I just got plucked out of the abyss for absolutely no earthly reason to experience such a glorious thing.  But that others weren’t.  The fact that others may never get this literally breaks my heart. And I know from being there that there is so little I can do to help them, that although I can try to help them carry a little bit of their cross, it ultimately rests on their shoulders.  It’s heartbreaking.

We talk of an island but in my mind its more like an arcade game in Toy Story, where the claw chooses the little toys out of the game machine.  One little guy at random.  “The claw has choosen.  Farewell my friends, I go onto a better place.”

I think those tears look like guilt.  Those tears in Mass when I hear that song and those tears that my husband has unfortunately not escaped, despite this miracle pregnancy.  Maybe they seem like guilt, in the “Why me and not them?” way or “Why did I behave so poorly”.  But I think its different than that.  Maybe more like, how did I possibly make it through that?  How could it really be that this was the only thing that could have had this result, that could have brought this incredible joy that was so pointedly missing?**  I realize how profound this life event is, this pregnancy.  That it was the answer to many prayers, only a few of which were my own.  And I know now with a real sense of urgency how important those prayers are that come from others and how I feel so indebted to remember that always and pay it forward.  I’m almost positive it was those that lifted me up and helped me go on and dare I say, followed this baby into fruition.

I was concerned to write this for fear of only adding to your pain. But please know I have committed to praying by name for every couple trying to conceive that I know, in person and through the internet ever since this last week in August.  Prayers for peace and comfort and God’s presence and most of all, a child to love and raise in faith.  If you’ve left a comment or even if you haven’t and I just read your blog, I pray for you.

 

*(except for financial situations…no matter how longed for babies will not fix that…)
**While we did not adopt and I can’t be certain, I imagine the feelings after adoption are very, very similar although still different.  They are like two possible solutions that have the ability to wipe away all the pain of longing for a child, but I’ll leave that to someone who has been there.
***If you’d ever like to email me your real name, sometimes I feel funny asking God to pray for “FMTP” or “misfit”…just saying.   I’m sure He knows you anyway :)

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.

That familiar loneliness

Man, it was shaping up to be a really good day too.

This whole last week, ever since our ultrasound, I’d been meaning to email some friends in Texas to let them know that we’d finally conceived.  They were one of three friends from back home that actually followed up and wanted to know how things went in Omaha.  I had been wanting to tell them we are pregnant, but after all the progesterone worries I wanted to make sure that everything was going alright.  Well, I finally emailed them back and used words like “busting at the seams to tell you” and “we can’t believe it” etc., etc.

I get a response this afternoon from them.  Basically along the lines of, Oh great, we’re very happy for you!  Now seems like a great time to tell you that we’re 20 weeks along and we’re having a boy.

(Keep in mind I just hit 10 weeks, like, yesterday.)

Heart, meet the soul of my shoe.

I was shocked and I tell you, I would have started crying right there in the office had I not been pregnant myself.  That familiar loneliness that follows you everywhere came rushing back.  Not that I feel particularly popular or anything now (I actually still feel like I’m carrying around a giant secret of my husband and I) but the people I have told have shared stories and bonded with me with a sense of camaraderie that an in-/sub-fertile woman can only get in the blogs.  This is why this place is so important.  I swear, even in real life sometimes other women who are having trouble conceiving just sugar-coat it all and don’t tell you how they’re really doing.  I’ve even had people offer to add me to prayer chains for expectant mothers and heard so many times at mass “We pray for those women expecting.”  What about the ones that can’t have children, people? Do you even think about them??? 

Back to the email, I went from shocked to really, really upset.  I just imagined a very, very likely, alternate universe more like the past 25 months in which I did not conceive and did not become pregnant.  Reading that email (which of course, I wouldn’t have gotten because I would have not sent my own announcing my pregnancy) and finding out that my dear friends, who I’ve actually written about here before and were extremely supportive and understanding and more than I could have asked for, were 20 weeks pregnant and keeping it from me.  Seriously, I’ve had nightmares about this stuff.

It probably sounds like I’m asking for too much.  Like because I’m having trouble conceiving I want the world to bend around me and cater to my every demand.  No, actually, as much as I would have loved a personal email announcing the pregnancy (considering these are close friends that have helped me through the hard times), I would totally settle  for being told just like everyone else on Facebook.  Not being treated like some emotionally unstable, must protect her from herself, crazy woman (because clearly, I am far from that! I hope you’re laughing).

I feel like I did when I told a close friend that my sister was pregnant again.  “So, do you want to kill her or what?”  I burst out crying.  To me that was worse than any other response, worse than the sadness over my own inability to conceive, that my friend would think that I would feel that way about my new niece/nephew.  That these complicated feelings were so misunderstood by people not in it, and whether it was something I said or did previously or the way that people think sub-/infertile women think we handle pregnancy announcements that caused her response.  (Sorry Em, don’t know if you read this but I don’t think I told you that story.)

Being so misunderstood creates such a loneliness that only compounds the pain.  And it hurts that even close friends (in both circumstances) couldn’t understand.  This blog world really truly is a great area where people can share those dark moments without being judged or misunderstood (at least by other women/couples in the same position – no doubt not everyone understands fully).

To quote Hebrews “The pain we feel over a pregnancy announcement, as you know all too well, doesn’t really have anything to do with the fact that the pregnant person is pregnant…it has everything to do with the fact that the infertile/subfertile is NOT. Please don’t feel guilty.”

So, to sum it all up: Please, please you pregnant people out there, please tell that friend who’s having trouble conceiving that you’re pregnant when you’re ready to tell the rest of the world  (preferably individually via email).  I know its hard to do, but really, it has to happen.

 

Especially when you’ve already asked that couple to be the godparents of your next child.  I mean, come on.

 

(In full disclosure, I have already already shared these similar sentiments with my friends and they have apologized and admitted not knowing how to tell us.  So I’m not trying to trash them on this blog, I just wish it didn’t happen this way and am maybe hoping others don’t make the same mistake unintentionally.)

Not quite as good as a hug

As happy as I am for a blogger that announces their pregnancy, somewhere in my head (or blog reader) I (sometimes) eventually stop being as loyal a reader as I once was, mostly because their blog doesn’t offer that sense of support that I crave(d).

This isn’t a dis-invite (de-vite? unvite?  here I am making up words…) to stop reading my blog, I just wanted to provide a couple other blogs (outside of the Catholic bloggers) I had stumbled upon recently that I felt tremendous support from and maybe they will do the same for some others who need it.

 

Held.  So, so good.  A Christian network of women currently or who used to suffer from sub/infertility writing about their experiences (and the best part, they don’t tell you!  You just get to read their wisdom).  Very faith based, but with a touch of ART mentioned on occasion.  Such wisdom and you’re bound to cry, so you’ve been warned.  Some of us could probably write over there as well…

Life as two.  I found Thelma’s blog from the Held site because her pieces were so insightful.  When I followed it to her blog I loved it even more and consumed almost all her posts related to infertility.  Her bio, “I do not write this blog from ‘the other side’ of infertility. We were a family of two the day we were married, and it appears that the Lord intended for our family to remain that way. To my knowledge, I have never been pregnant.  We have seen the Lord quietly close all the doors to parenthood (ARTs, fostering, adoption) as we traveled this road and we stand here today as we did on the day we wed: a family of two…..I wish I could tell you how your story ended.  I can’t promise you a child at the end of your road.  I can, however, be witness to the faithfulness of God in the midst of the storm.  He is near, faithful and strong enough to bear you up through all of this.  Lean on Him, even when it feels easier to be angry with Him.”

If that didn’t make you cry, you have no soul.  I found her blog the week before we found out we were pregnant.  What a gold mine.

And on a lighter note…

Scrambled Eggs.  Found this after the NFPWorks blog mentioned it.  Mostly funny, well, as funny as you can get approach to dealing with sub/infertility.  I love the movie Dumbo when I was a kid!  And now I see the connection…

 

I still don’t know what to do about the Catholic Infertility Support group in California I wanted to start.  I felt that I was in such a position to do some good here (despite no one emailing me and saying ‘yes, sign me up!’) and then…well, I’m pretty sure no one wants a pregnant woman running the group.  I feel bad though because I know that although no one emailed me or started one already, there has to be a need out there and they’re just by themselves.  I’ve still thought about organizing it and being the moderator or something, but I guess we’ll just see how things play out from here.

Another day, another perspective

I bought flowers for myself for the first time after the other day.

Can you see the pink water?  I think regular sunflowers would have been a little more cheery (these look a little bloody/Halloween-ish…) but at least I get bonus pink water to look at as well.

And I’ve cried more this week than I have in the last 8 months probably.  Good, hard cries that just needed to come out.  I’ve just been trying to ‘be ok’ with everything and I just really needed a honest moment with God.  And my husband.  Thankfully, both were in a listening mode.

Today I’m taking a solo beach day as my ‘last day of freedom’ before work starts on Monday (because we have other things to do this weekend, including a ‘blind date’ with some NFP teachers I found!).  Did I mention I got a job?  Well, I got a job.  Three months ago the idea of getting a job gave me such anxiety, like I was choosing to be a childless couple by getting a job.  Like I was proving I was an unfit mother and I was sealing my fate if I chose to work instead of diving 100% into making a baby and doing all I could, 24/7.  But who am I kidding, its not my choice and it never has been.  I’m just trying to play the hand I was given.  Sometimes you have to protect what sanity you have and I think know this will help me do so.

As time has gone on, I have been able to just focus on the positive of working.  Like, this will give us a chance to pay off student  loans faster and save up for adoption quicker.  It will give me something productive to do instead of sitting around, reading blogs and getting sad (As much as it helps me, sometimes I can get sucked in too much and out-stay my welcome).  And I’m using what I went to school for so long in at an amazing opportunity and company that has a position that seemed to be tailor made just for me.  Do I really not take it because of what might happen but still hasn’t happened for the last two years?  I feel like I’m choosing to press ‘play’.  Not the ‘play’ I imagined but still, a story is unfolding anyway and its ours.

I met a woman through this volunteer thing I’m doing that was also looking for work.  She had asked if I really needed a job and I was honest with her.  We didn’t need the job in the financial sense and I had been considering a myriad of other opportunities including doing NFP stuff more full time or going back to school (shh…).  That was probably a bratty thing to be honest about because it turns out she’d been out of work for 16 months and had two kids.  ‘Do you have any kids?’ No.  She still offered to help me since she knows an engineering head hunter.  She emailed this past week to get my resume and I had to tell her thanks, but I found a job.  I told her there had been many things we’ve been dealing with lately so this looks like a turn for the positive and that I hope she found work too.  She wrote me back with a really short email that said she was happy for me.  That was it.  I knew it was forced and she probably was thinking in her head, That girl didn’t even want a job and here I’ve been looking for over a year and I can’t find one.  That perspective is all too familiar to me.  How do these people get pregnant so easily when they don’t even want more kids?  So I realize I have something good here.  Its a good thing to have employment and its something a lot of people want/need.  I am grateful.  This is a good thing for us.  (Incidentally, apparently its also a good thing to have an engineering background, as those jobs seem to have less people qualified to take them).

I had more to say but I don’t feel coherent.  One thing I worry about is that I’ve been feeling so, so exhausted lately and really dizzy and lighted as well more frequently this week.  I don’t feel like myself.  I’ve been on my diet for 3 months now, so I really don’t think its a nutritional thing, but maybe related to the parlodel or T3 I’ve been taking this month?  Maybe I just keep standing up too fast.

Either way, beach day today and work on Monday.  I’m not letting comparison steal my joy!  (Thanks Faith!)