Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Julie and Julia

Quick warning: If you haven't seen the movie, you might not want to read this post. I don't give too much away, but I don't want to be a spoiler.


Before seeing this movie, I had no idea that Julia Child never had children, much less experienced infertility.

Towards the beginning of the movie, Julia and her husband are walking the streets of France. A woman walks by pushing a baby carriage. Those of us who have experienced infertility, or who knows someone who has, will recognize the longing look Julia gives the carriage as it passes by.

That exchange happened in a fraction of a second. But in that second, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Julia never had children. Julia couldn't have children.

I quickly looked at Ryan, shocked by the revelation. Just like a man (and I say that lovingly), he hadn't noticed the brief interaction between a barren woman and her lost dream. But I had.

This changed the entire outlook of the movie for me. As I watched Julia turn to cooking and food, and even writing as outlets, I recognized myself in her eyes. Trying to figure out your place in the world, after you've lost the role you've always wanted.

There is one scene in which Julia receives a letter from her newly married sister. Her newly married, and now pregnant, sister. Reading about her sister's pregnancy, Julia falls apart. Her husband tries to catch her, pressing her head to his chest as she cries. I looked at Ryan, and for the first time in what feels like forever, I felt like he could truly see inside my heart. Finally, he knew how I have felt over and over and over again.

I truly feel that this movie was an accurate demonstration of infertility, at least through my eyes. The determination of one woman to live through the newness of each day, and the willingness to experience a life that looks different than she ever thought it would. It was inspiring.

Oh, and speaking of inspiration, I really, really want to visit France someday too. :) Are you reading this, Ryan??? (hint, hint)

The Price We Pay

A passage read in church two weeks ago touched me greatly.

Those who aren't members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) may not know some of the amazing stories of pioneers who made their way across the country to the Salt Lake Valley. One of the most heartbreaking was the Martin Handcart Company.

Because of the unexpected delays and other unfortunate circumstances, over two hundred members of the Willie and Martin handcart companies died before they could reach the Salt Lake Valley. None of the other handcart companies coming to the valley before or after them suffered so many problems.

Some years after the Martin company made their journey to Salt Lake City, a teacher in a Church class commented how foolish it was for the Martin company to come across the plains when it did. The teacher criticized the Church leaders for allowing a company to make such a journey without more supplies and protection.

An old man sitting in the classroom listened for a few moments and then spoke out, asking that the criticism be stopped. He said, “Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife was in it. … We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? Not one of that company ever apostatized or left the Church, because everyone of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives, for we became acquainted with him in our extremities [difficulties].

“I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it. … I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.

“Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.”

During our trials and struggles, do we ever look back to see who is pushing us through? I know there have been many times the angels of God have pushed me onward. How selfish I've been not to acknowledge that.

This gentleman (who had been through hell and back) stated, "Everyone of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives, for we became acquainted with him in our extremities. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay".

Is it possible to consider my trials, including infertility, as a privilege? It takes such a strong person to think of hardships in this way. I'm afraid I am not that strong.

Although I have never experienced a fraction of the heartache felt by the Martin Handcart Company, I believe in the last six years I have come to know God more now than I ever have before.

And for that, I am grateful.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thank you

For those who have left supportive comments, sent me private emails, or called to encourage me over the last week or so, I just want to say thank you.

I have mentioned it several times before: I never started this blog to receive sympathy or comments. It is a place to laugh and cry about the world of infertility. Someday, I hope my children will read this and know how much they are loved.

All of the support and encouragement that has come my way as a result of this blog has been unanticipated, but gratefully received. I fear I will never repay you for all the times you have lifted me up over the years. Some of you are dear, dear friends, while others I will never meet face to face. Regardless, you have touched my life and I am forever indebted. Thank you!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thanks for Dropping By, Please State Your Name

I should consider myself fortunate that I went three years without hurt feelings, or even so much as a heated debate, on my blog. You know, when I first started this blog it was on a website that didn’t allow comments. The only reason I began writing was to avoid the face-to-face questions (what treatments are you doing, are you pregnant yet, etc) from friends or family. It was just to let these people keep up with my progress. Then, I had to stop treatments because they were just plain too expensive. And that’s when I really started pouring my heart out on here.

I moved my blog to another site, and allowed comments. Friends would leave encouraging words, and I took comfort in that. Then one day I discovered I wasn’t alone out there. Other people had blogs that talked about the same things mine did! It was so exciting. For some people, sending an email or leaving a comment was the first time they talked about their infertility to someone besides their spouse. They took comfort in my blog, and I theirs. So, when I moved my blog to blogspot, and noticed I could make people sign in to leave comments, I decided not to go that route. It was nice to have an open, supportive forum to share together.

I feel the anonymous comment left on September 9th (“Anonymous #1”) was not done to hurt me. On the other hand, I strongly feel that the person who made that comment does not know me personally. If she does, then she doesn’t know me well.

I try to bend over backwards to show love and compassion to mothers on a daily basis, sometimes to my own detriment. I firmly believe, if someone didn’t know I had infertility, they would not be able to tell by how I treat those around me. That is my goal at least. I make that decision every day. And then, on a day where I was at my lowest of lows, pouring my soul out, I am told to be kinder than necessary. That just broke my heart.

Looking back at my posts, a truly anonymous comment is rare. If the commenter felt okay with what she had to say, why didn’t she give her name? I was left to wonder: Who was she? Did I know her personally? Had I offended her in some way?

I say this with respect and love… Infertility is hard enough without having to answer those questions as well. Infertility is hard enough without having mystery people tell you to see things from the other side, and chastise your friends when they are trying to hold you up. I don’t know how many times I can say this: I understand motherhood is hard! I know that someday I will have trials greater than this one! So now that I’ve said that, please give me this little part of the internet oblivion to release my deepest thoughts, and gain comfort from those who know me or are also experiencing this infertility nightmare.

This blog is my solace. No one is perfect. I never thought I was.

For Anonymous #2: Those close friends in my life, the ones who have held my hand through every trial and wiped every tear, they knew how that comment would make me feel. They came to my defense; that was their intent. They were trying to make it a little easier on me. They are good people.

The remarks made on this blog in the last few days have caused me to question my comment set-up. As much as it saddens me, I am removing the anonymous option. There is now a sign-in required to leave a comment.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Reason Why

For several reasons, yesterday was a long and emotional day. Now, with the clarity of a good night’s sleep and some deep soul searching, I think I have found the primary reason the statements in my post below hurt so much (i.e., ‘Enjoy ______ now, because you won’t get to do it when you have kids.’).

It has nothing to do with the person saying it. It is something inside me that breaks when I hear those things. And while I do, 100%, agree with what I wrote that day, I think the true pain lies much deeper.

I am a busy gal, but with a husband who works nights and most weekends/holidays, there is a lot of time spent alone. There was a time when I would spend most of that time crying or simply sitting on the couch staring into space for hours. During that time, I found no joy in the things I used to love. I was depressed.

Now I feel better, and I have re-discovered those things I enjoy. I have filled up lonely holidays or Friday nights with cooking or baking or writing or scrapbooking or any of the other activities I forgot I loved. I feel like a person again.

So when someone reminds me that I only have time to do these things because I don’t have children, it’s like ripping a scab off an open wound. I would love to be taking my kids to the park on a holiday (or even nagging them to clean their room!) or making pizzas and watching a movie on a Friday night. But I don’t have those options. I am trying to make the best of what I have.

I do enjoy sleeping in on a Saturday, or reading a book on a Sunday afternoon. I am sorry if that makes moms feel jealous. But while they are jealous of those free hours I get, I yearn on an hourly basis for the lives they are living.

A person commented in the post below that things are difficult as a mom. She mentioned that you are now tied to someone else’s schedule, money is tighter, nerves are more raw. What she isn’t realizing is that I am already living that life in my own way.

Have you ever spent six years “scheduling” sex, and seen what that does to a marriage? Have you ever excused yourself from a business meeting at a specific time to go to the bathroom and give yourself a shot in the stomach? And then try to return as if nothing happened? Have you ever filled yourself full of hormones and experienced what that does to nerves? Undergone surgery only to find no answers? Let someone stick needles all over your body as you lay there choking tears back because you feel this is your last hope? Spent thousands of dollars trying to become a mom to no avail? Understood that it will cost $12,000 for a treatment that has a greater chance of not working, than working? Seen friends of yours wait years for a birth mother to choose them for adoption and wonder if that will be you too?

I have experienced all these things and more. I guarantee I have been tied to schedules, money’s been tight, and nerves have been raw. I am not saying my path is any more difficult than anyone else’s. In fact, I know my battle is a small one compared to others I have seen. Even so, just as the commenter said, everyone is fighting their own battle.

I don’t need to be reminded that my life is different than most married women my age. I don’t need to be reminded how my life would be different with children. I have spent hours on my knees begging to experience it for myself. I am trying to move on.

And that is the reason these statements hurt.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fired Up

Over the past decade or so, I have often heard some variation of the following:

‘Enjoy ______ now, because you won’t get to do it when you have kids.’
‘Once you have kids, you’ll never get to do ______ anymore.’
‘When you’re pregnant, you’ll be too absent-minded to ______.’
‘You only like doing ______ because you don’t have kids yet.’

I have been told I will no longer have dates with my husband. I will not be able to go to school or take a class because ‘pregnancy makes you dumb’. I won’t enjoy cooking or baking anymore. If you add these comments together, it appears the person I am, and have always been, will cease to exist once this blessed event occurs.

One of the benefits of waiting so long to have children is the opportunity I’ve had to see so many different people venture into motherhood. I have observed new mothers who become completely different people when their children are born. I’m not talking about priorities changing. That goes without saying. For example, I spend less time with certain friends because they are busy being moms. I fully understand that. But some mothers become a different person entirely.

Suddenly, they are incapable of discussing anything beyond child rearing. They moan and complain and sometimes don’t even seem to like their children. Nothing happening in your life is as awful, happy, or important as the latest events in their own life. There is a difference between making your children the center of your world (which makes sense), and expecting them to be the center of everyone else’s (which is a lot to ask).

I also find it ironic that many of the moms who tell me all of these things have plenty of time to watch TV, play around on the computer, or take long naps daily. I find it insulting when someone tells me I’ll have to give up digi-scraping when I have kids because I won’t have the time, but can also tell me the latest goings-on with a number of current TV shows. Contradiction, anyone?

Although I have never experienced motherhood, I am observant enough to know that things will change immensely. Time will be precious, and some things I do now will either be eliminated or have lower priority. I know that my number one mission will be to care for my children. I look forward to that!

But to jump from that to assuming all of the parts that make me who I am will disappear upon entering motherhood is crazy. I see many moms out there who have not lost themselves. In fact, motherhood has helped them discover more about who they are.

I have a couple of friends who have taken up photography, because taking pictures of their children opened up a creative outlet they hadn’t acknowledged in the past. Practically all of the cooking and baking blogs I follow are written by moms. I have attended college classes with many pregnant women who were anything but ‘dumb’. And, I am pretty sure I have seen couples who have children out on dates. Less often? Oh, yes. But never? Not necessarily.

Growing up, I knew a million things about my mom and what she enjoyed. I knew her favorite type of exercise was to work-out in the pool. That was ‘her’ time and I got that. I also knew she loved making people feel beautiful and was creative with hair and make-up. I knew she loved watching mysteries and crime drama on TV. And guess what? She loved all these things before me, she loved them while I was young, and she continues to love them today. That is who she is. I wonder what she would have thought if someone had told her she would no longer enjoy doing these things while she was a mom, and what that same person would have thought if (several years later) they saw a little girl snuggled up to her mom watching The Rockford Files on TV, or sitting on a booster seat in the salon chair while her mom practiced hairstyles on her. Loose myself in motherhood? My mom sure didn’t!

I love those future kidlets of mine, and I want to give them every part of who I am. I want them to know the interests, passions, and creative outlets that make me ME. Maybe I’ll be digi-scraping late at night while they sleep, but I’ll still be doing it. Maybe I’ll trade in my experimental recipes for kid-friendly ones, but I’ll still love to bake. I want them to know how important their father is to me and if it means they’re spending a night at the Grandparents’ every once in a while, well, I can think of worse things than that!

When it comes down to it, I think it is a choice. It may take effort, but I’m pretty sure you can hang on to a scrap of who you are during motherhood, without becoming a neglectful parent. Why can’t you include your children in what you love and watch those talents grow? Couldn’t it be argued that you could be a healthier, happier mom if you hung on to some of those things you enjoy?

Maybe I am just a na├»ve wanna-be, but that’s what I believe.

Take that, Dr. Phil!

Dr. Phil is known for saying: It takes 10 atta-boy’s to erase one negative comment.

Well, that may be true for kids, but in the world of infertility, you can erase 10 negative comments with a kind word from one supportive friend.

I have many supportive friends and, without you beside me over the last 6 years, I might have crawled under my bed and never come out.

So, thank you. :)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Passing Time

A couple of months ago, I come home to find a bright pink flyer on my porch. As I looked at it, I noticed it was from a local foster parenting agency.

Now I've talked about Foster Parenting in the past, and my frustration with people throwing it at me as an option. Deciding to foster is such a personal decision, and not one to be suggested, or entered into, lightly.

But as I read the flyer, I felt a glimmer of excitement. I talked to Ryan and he was actually (surprisingly) supportive about the idea. He had questions, and we both felt cautious, but I have hung onto the flyer since that day.

Recently, Ryan and I decided to take a 10-year-anniversary trip. Once we return, we're climbing 'back on the horse' so-to-speak, and attempting once again to start our family.

In the meantime, I am passing time. Finding this flyer has helped give me purpose. If we were to foster parent or adopt, we get the opportunity to have strangers decide if we would be good parents. Part of this process involves them coming into our home and assessing it's suitability for housing a child.

And this brings me to my latest project: Operation Organization. I would imagine most people have cabinets, drawers and closets that are a bit, how should I say, cluttered? Well, I do too. So, I am in the process of decluttering and clearing out our house.

This includes our "3rd Bedroom", which will someday be our child's room. I have heard some people talk about getting a room ready for a child, and the pain they feel when the room stays empty. For some reason, I am feeling the opposite emotion. Clearing out that room is giving me hope. I know I will be a mother someday, and I feel that preparing for this fact helps it feel more real. What I am feeling is nice, so I am going with it for now.

Taking a second look at foster parenting feels nice too. I don't know if and how far we will pursue that avenue, but having it as an option seems right for us.

Regardless, for now, I am forcing my eyes upon greener pastures. Or maybe white, sandy beaches. Living and loving my best friend, helping with those fun and crazy teenage girls at church, reconnecting with girlfriends, and anxiously awaiting boarding that plane for Hawaii: these are the things I keep in the front of my mind. Every now and then the sadness returns, but I put a band-aid on it and keep going. Because that's what you do when you're passing time.


Quick Note: Should we choose to pursue foster care, I will be open and appreciative to opinions and obserations. Until that time, please don't bombard me with negative comments. I realize it can be a tough and heartbreaking process. Let me live in the dream for a while longer. Reality will come soon enough! Thanks.