Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I Choose Us

Have you ever seen the movie, The Family Man? It begins at an airport with a dramatic good-bye scene between a boyfriend and girlfriend. He was planning to move overseas for a year to intern at a company. Then, he would return and they will be together. That is the plan. She desperately wants him to stay. In the scene, she asks him to forget their plan. In her plea she says, “I choose us”.

This quote is the theme throughout the movie. Both Ryan and I really enjoy the movie, and watch it on occasion. Every once in a while we will joke with each other and someone will say dramatically, “I choose us”.

Over the last 6 years, I have been dedicated to beginning a family. Many of my decisions were directly related to this goal. I purchased a ‘family friendly’ vehicle (and when that one wore out, I purchased another). I chose a career that I enjoy, but also has an awesome opportunity to work part-time and from home. We bought a house.

During this time, I would freak out a bit inside when we would spend money on recreational things. I couldn’t fully enjoy it, as I felt any unnecessary purchase was pushing my dream of parenthood further and further away.

But now, I am starting to see things a bit differently. We received a tax refund this year, and anticipate another next year. Together, these refunds could pay for 3 fertility treatments, or put us 1/3 of the way towards having enough money for adoption. It’s possible this money could be what I need to begin my family.

But then I look at Ryan and all he has done for me, and for us. We will be married 10 years next year and, in all that time, we have never taken a ‘real’ vacation. We haven’t flown somewhere new or gone on an adventure. Over the last 10 years we have had ups and downs and everything in between. We’ve worked hard and accomplished much. Where’s the reward? What about us?

I have spent so much time and energy trying to ‘start’ a family, I nearly forgot about the family I already had. Yes, Ryan and I are a family and (someday) when the kids are grown and gone, it will just be us again. We were a family first. Having a baby doesn’t make a family, it just adds to it.

I have decided that we should use that money to take a fun and romantic vacation, just Ryan and I. By the time we go (next year), we will have gotten ourselves in financial order. Once we return, it is back to the task at hand: beginning our forever family. I plan to jump head first into the baby world and I have faith in the process. Should pregnancy happen while we wait, then that is wonderful. If not, we will always have the memories of this vacation to look back on.

I don’t know what the future holds. Perhaps sometimes you need to forget the plan. There is a lot I am unsure of. What I do know is we will have our family someday.

But, in the meantime, I choose us.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dreams and Signs

You would think that since I have been living, thinking, breathing baby over the past 6 years, I would have had many dreams about pregnancy and motherhood. Surprisingly, I haven't.

I remember the only time I have dreamed about children. It was 2004 and we had been trying to conceive for about 6 months. I had a really vivid dream where I was a mother to a newborn baby boy. It felt so real, that I shot up in bed and looked around for him when I woke up. I remember thinking how strange it was that I dreamed of a boy, as I have always thought my first baby would be a girl.

Since that time, I haven't dreamed about anything parenthood. In the last two years, I haven't dreamed much at all. I'm not sure why, but over the last few months, I have begun dreaming again; many, many dreams.

Last night, I dreamt again about a little boy. This time, he was about a year old. I was laying on the floor and he crawled on top of me. He grabbed my shirt at the shoulders with his pudgy little hands and hugged me, resting his head on my upper chest.

I remember what I felt at that moment: a pure sense of joy. The kind of joy I haven't felt in a long time. Pure happiness.

I wasn't sad when I woke up, just wistful. But I dismissed the dream quickly, got ready for the day and headed to church.

In church this morning, the speakers spoke about signs. One thing that was said today was that signs are not to give you faith, but to reward the faithful. You can't demand a sign from God to prove Himself to you, but He can choose to reach out and touch you, if He sees fit. As they talked, my thoughts wandered to my dream.

I am not saying my dream was a sign. What I do think is that instead of dismissing it, I should take it as a tender mercy from God. It was a glimpse of what may be in store for me someday. When you've spent the last 6 years climbing the mountain of infertility, it's sometimes nice to see what might be waiting for you on the other side.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

In Pursuit of Happiness

In January 2009, Ryan snapped this picture of me in a hotel room in Costa Mesa. He was in a two-week training course for work and I had come down to visit him. I like this picture because I think it's a fun close-up. I have used it for various 'profile pics' and the like.

But there is an interesting aspect about this picture that only I think about when I see it. These eyes contained a lot of pain. This picture was taken days before I finally sought help from my doctor. During the trip to see Ryan, I didn't really want to leave the hotel room. Here we were together in beautiful SoCal, all expenses paid, and I felt most comfortable in bed in a tiny, dark hotel room. I spent an entire night of the trip crying next to him while he slept. And I mean an entire night. Although I was pleasant towards him, I was miserable inside.

Months have passed since that time.

Recently, a dear friend and up-and-coming photographer, Isa Sabey offered to take some pictures of us. We hadn't had someone do that for us in years. Here is one of the pictures:

This shot is one of those 'candid' ones Isa snapped when we were laughing at something or other (probably at how awkward we felt having our picture taken).

When I look at this picture, I see a woman who is happy. It has been said that the 'eyes are the window to the soul'. Well, to me, I can see a sparkle in these eyes that has been missing for a long time.

People say a result of seeking help for depression is that you feel like yourself again. Over these five years of dealing with infertility, I had forgotten who I was. I feel like the Michelle from years past. I actually like myself again.

In high school, I was told that I 'always have a smile'. My drama teacher would laugh at me because, even in the most dramatic scene, my eyes were always twinkling. She said, no matter what my face was doing, it was impossible for me not to look happy.

I wouldn't say I'm at that point yet, but I am getting there. I find myself excited about life.

Two days ago, I bought myself a designer purse. The significance of that? Well, for years I have told everyone how much I hated shopping. I don't remember the last time I bought myself something nice. I would go clothes shopping, but refuse to try anything on. Looking back, I realize I didn't really like myself. Not only that, but anytime I (or Ryan for that matter) would purchase something, I would feel that it was pushing my dream of motherhood that much further away. I allowed myself no joy in treating myself unless it was directly related to my goal. The only exception was food. Food was now my comfort.

How things have changed! I find joy in so many things now, including the occasional purchase of something nice just for me. Many people talk about 'retail therapy', but it turns out I only like to treat myself when I feel good.

I could go on and on with the changes happening around here. I could talk about the many times I have turned to Ryan in amazement and said, "I just feel so happy". I can say that I have gone from crying several times per day, to twice in 2 months, and both of those were spiritually related.

The point is that now I feel I can see infertility for what it is, a hard and difficult trial that I pray everyday will have a resolution soon. But, regardless, infertility doesn't define me anymore.

I am a member of the LDS church. I love to cook and bake new things. I like to write. I am learning to be a financial planner and have the best co-workers in the world. Autumn is my favorite season. I work with the teenage girls at church and love it. My favorite smells are the mountains, chopped cilantro, and freshly baked cookies. I like to go camping and visit big cities. I love my kitties and talk to them like they are people. I like the color green, but I don't look good wearing it. I am a wife, daughter, sister, aunt and friend, who longs to also add "mother" to that resume someday.

I still feel sadness when I think of our empty house. I still have days where I don't want to talk about babies or pregnancy or adoption. I still hear the ticking clock in the background and hope I can start my family before it's "too late" (whatever that means).

But I also feel happy. Every day is a pursuit of happiness now. And most days I am winning.