Sunday, September 19, 2010

What Makes Me Sad

There has been a major shift in my life, and I can't quite put my finger on when it happened, but it definitely was brewing for a while. I'd say at least 4 months or so.

You may remember reading either on my blog or on others' blogs when I comment, that I do not feel the same angst surrounding my infertility and inability to adopt or foster anymore. I don't suffer the same pain when I think about my current childlessness... and it's not because I have this incredible sense of hope that it will one day change. No, it's not that. I think it's even more powerful than that. I think I have reached the point of "acceptance" not only in accepting my cross, but in knowing that I can find joy and peace in it.

It's a really odd place to be, even though there is peace within it, the peace is solely surrounding the desire for children (which, if still there, is distant). It's certainly not that suddenly everything in my life is rosey. Many days, it's quite the opposite. Yes, I am very happy and thankful that I am beginning new ultrasound jobs this week and we are very close to purchasing our first home. These are amazing and exciting things!! But I still find that I am often depressed, and I wonder if the sadness is being caused by the particular catalyst of the moment, or if it is stemming from the underlying residual depression associated with my childlessness.

Now, I just said that I have found peace and joy in my cross. That is true. But the residual depression of which I'm now speaking has less to do with the obvious "pain" of infertility (aching to become a mother) and more to do with all the knowledge of missing out on the other perks associated with parenthood, being pregnant, and going through the adoption process.

Let me explain.

Over the past few years, I have made some amazing friends here online and on the blogs. Some very solid and strong bonds have been formed. I am, and always will be, so very thankful that God placed these women into my lives at the time I most needed their love and support. These women knew exactly what I was going through, and I knew exactly what they were going through.

Now, things are so very, very different. I find myself reading the blogs of my closest friends, and email updates on their lives, and not only do I have no way to relate to their new mommy/pregnant/adopting situations on which they are writing, but then I read through the comments and realize that every. single. one. of the responses are coming from women who CAN relate and ARE relating to them, better than I now can. I know this sounds like a very typical jealous reaction, but I assure you, it is not jealousy. I feel as if I've been left behind. Oh how I hate to be excluded from the "in"-crowd. I remember a time when the Infertile Group was the in-crowd!

Feeling excluded is primarily what makes me sad these days. I have nothing to share about my non-existent baby's first coo, first diaper change, or first steps. I have nothing to share about "the call" from the social worker or the fateful signing of papers. And worse yet, I have no words of wisdom or advice to give to my friends who are experiencing these things. There's only so many times you can type, "I'm praying for you!" in those darn comment boxes, and, to me at least, it's so obvious who the lone childless outcasts are when you read through the comments and amongst the endless, "I know just how you feel!"s and "When we were going through that exact thing, here's what we did"s is a random and useless, "I'm praying for you!"

And then there's the flip-side. The discomfort of those who have moved into the land of parenthood/pregnancy/adoption, who now find themselves with nothing to say to me. Maybe it's that they are too busy with baby things, or maybe it's (more likely) that they no longer know what to say, how to say it, and whether or not I want to hear it... but no matter what the reason, they tend to stay away from commenting on my blog, or emailing.

And there's really no way to rectify that situation. If I could, I would not choose that these people would be childless once again so that I could enjoy a sense of camraderie with them. And, I wouldn't wish for a child just so that I could be in the "cool" group! But the fact remains, there is definately a very clear line between the childless and those who have crossed over... and there's something unspeakably awkward about mingling between the two as if there is no difference at all.

So, that is what makes me sad.

But there's more.

When I think about my current situation - a woman who is still trying to become as healthy as possible, but is no longer going to the ends of the earth to try every single infertility treatment known to woman - it makes me realize that I've given up. For the first and only time in my life... I've given up on something I once had such strong passion for. I suppose I could look at it from another angle and say, I have not truly given up, but rather GIVEN IT OVER into the hands of God. But when I reflect upon my moments of sadness, my human rationale sees it as defeat.

It's a painful realization to know that everything I've gone through has not yielded ANY results. Just to name a few, I have endured:

A 7-hour surgery (1st of 3), leaving me with a 5-inch laparotomy scar
An excruciating cervical scraping procedure
A painful HSG
A tortuous endometrial biopsy without anesthesia
A botched midline catheter IV insertion, leaving me bloodied and bruised for weeks
Meeting with Branch Director about Home Study "problems"
Home Study rejection
Flying back and forth from NY to Chicago in one day... twice

And what pains me most about this is that others are able to justify all of it and more by looking at the end result. I have no end result. While one could argue that the peace I am now experiencing in my current childlessness IS the end result, I certainly wouldn't rejoice and say, "I would do every single painful moment over again just to be where I am now!" No. I probably would not spend $40,000+ on all of the worthless medical procedures just so that I could have peace now. I probably would go back to day one and devote all of my energy into prayer, instead.

I am thankful that I was entrusted with that amount of suffering, however. The SUFFERING had and still has a purpose. The suffering was never meant to be justified by an end-result (for me nor for anybody) here in this world. And as thankful as I am that God gave me my cross, I am ever-more grateful that He has given me much reprieve from it lately. The moments of sadness that I experience now are nothing compared to the years of unimaginable heartache and torture.

When I think about the future, I am able to embrace it even though I don't know what it holds. The uncertainty used to scare me, but now it excites me with wonder. It's very possible that my husband and I will pursue foster care when we are able (a year or two?) but we'll have to discuss that if and when the time comes. I never in a million years would think that these words would be coming out of my mouth (or my fingers, I suppose), but if I never do become a mother, that, too, will be O.K. Sure, I'll probably have to find myself a new set of friends so that I have SOMETHING to talk about besides infertility treatments or raising kids... but it could work.

Not until this very moment have I fully understood the implication of my own blog name. All of these years, I strove to live up to its title, and BECOME that title. But now I see that I am not defined by This Cross I Embrace. My cross was never meant to define me as a person, but rather to be picked up, carried, and embraced for the person it will help me to become.


E said...

This is a beautiful post and reflection. I am amazed how God has been answering my prayers for you and your DH.

Thoughout my life I have rejoiced in having many different types of freinds in all stages of life, types of interests, and similarities. I just love this aspect of my life.

I can only speak for myself but being pregnant after infertility and taking care of a newborn and has been very overwhelming. I am sorry that we haven't connected like we used to! I am just know feeling like myself pre-pregnancy and it has been over a year.

Also, I can relate to putting a ton of effort into something and not seeing any results from it. That is what happened to me in college (see my most recent blog post) and it is heartbreaking. This is something that I still carry around with me and do have to give it back to the Lord, daily. But by doing this, isn't that what life is all about, submitting ourselves to His Will?

Megan said...

TCIE, you are stronger and holier than I will ever be! You are an incredible inspiration to me, and I can't wait to see what God has in store for you!
I am praying for you, and just for the record, this little nugget of a comment, is more powerful than it seems. Just knowing that someone is praying for you is such a boost, and it is nice to think that if the one person that wrote that small comment is praying for me, then there are probably several others who are too but just didn't take the time to say it. :)

... said...

This is a beautiful post and for once, I can say, "I relate!" I do understand about having nothing to comment on and noticing others disappear without much to say to me anymore, and oh, the amount of time and money spent with no end result to say "it was all worth it."

This suffering is for a purpose and you are wonderful woman to have carried it and embraced it as much as you have. I'm always looking up to you.

Meg @ True, Good and Beautiful said...

You already know that the "it was all worth it" comment bugs me. It's worth it now, even without the end result. Even without the pregnancy, adoption, or the peace that you have been given. Suffering is not a means to a physical end. It just is.

And I've been thinking the same thing as you lately; I'm not sure people have much to say to me anymore. I do love the praying for you comments and appreciate them, but I think it has gotten difficult for much of this community to relate to one another, since so many of us seem to be in different places. And I too, often, don't know what to say to others, so I write, "praying for you" a lot as well. It's hard to feel left behind. While our stories are very different, I know I feel like that everyday.

Angela said...

Wow, I agree with others that this was a very beautiful reflective post.

A couple things really struck me: I understand what you mean about being in one world (fertile or infertile) and not knowing what to say to the other world. That is a strange feeling, and I think you just writing this post has helped me to realize that each side still needs to reach out to the other... which I am going to work harder at doing. B/c I fall into that too...thinking "does she really want to hear from me, another preggo?" And of course! We all need each other's support!

Also, I think that your last sentence is the most poignant, "My cross was never meant to define me as a person, but rather to be picked up, carried, and embraced for the person it will help me to become." And I wanted to add that one day you might be called to put it down...this is something I've been really thinking on in my own life...we may not be called to carry our cross our whole life. Or we may be called to pick it up again at some point if He relieves us of it for awhile.

Eloisa said...

Hola! I never comment since I do not have a blog and feel that I should not due to this, but you know me well from the Catholic yahoo group, your faithfull Mexican fan =).

I am always checking for your posts since the have guided and lifted me up in this IF struggle even being so far away and you have been a very important inspiration in becoming a Practitioner.

Many times we do not see the fruits of our words and prayers, but they are always there. I am one of such cases where they have meant more than you can imagine both in your blog, emails and yahoo group posts.

Will keep praying for you our adopted US blogger!

Percolating Petals said...

I still hope for you. A lot of times I don't know what to say; I feel a bit on the fringe too. I almost felt more comfortable going through IF than adjusting to pregnancy, if that makes any sense. Also, I think that IF causes a hurricane of emotions to happen all at the same time...

You can bet that quite of few of my prayers are, "Come ON, God, will you please help TCIE sooner rather than later!!?" I hope and pray that your heavy cross will be transformed into something glorious very soon.

Rebecca said...

I've often wondered if my comments of "I'm praying for you" seem cold or 'canned'. As someone who doesn't fit into either group of fertile or infertile it is hard for me to relate to the stories of everyone. I don't know what it is to want a baby more than anything and not be able to have one AND I don't know what it is to be up all night with a newborn. I do know that reading your stories has made me a more compassionate person and taught me to hold my tongue (a lesson I needed to learn).

When I do have no wisdom to offer, and I'm left to comment "I'm praying for you" I make a point to stop what I am doing and say a prayer, right then and there. But maybe, I should just say the prayer without the comment?

Kaitlin @ More Like Mary said...

Just as you said in the post, I don't know what to say. But I AM praying for you. And not in a "I dont know what to say so I'll write that I'm praying for you" kind of way, but in a "you come to my mind every single day and I offer up a prayer for your intentions" kind of way. I promise.

the misfit said...

This is a fabulous reflection. It's funny how we change, sometimes so quickly, and sometimes without any idea what's happening until we can look back. I think the worst thing - to see in myself or in others; it hurts so much and there's nothing useful I can say - is the terrible suffering of having no realistic hope for change, but being unable to stand the place we are right now. Right now, somewhat like you, I may not LIKE where I am, but I don't have the feeling that one more month without a child will kill me. I've battled my way to greater health and clarity on a point or two, and I feel as though from my little plateau I've got a look at some of the peaks still in front of me, and a breather before tackling them. I hope someday to have the wisdom and peace that you have.

Amy @ This Cross I Embrace said...

Just to clarify... I always love prayers!! I more meant that when I write "I'm praying for you" on someone's blog, it's because that's the ONLY way I can help to relate to THEIR situation. And then I feel like I parrot, because it ends up being the only comment I can make, too.
But I never take all of your prayers for granted - definately not! They have helped me to get where I am now, which is HUGE!

... said...

I agree and I totally understand. I love reading “I’m praying for you.” I think everyone goes through the *not knowing what to say* thing. I certainly do and sometimes that is the only thing I can say to someone. I wish I could add a bit of parenting wisdom or assurances that the nausea will abate or things like that, but my prayers and support are what I can add and I never feel like it is in vain and I hope others who offer that for me do not feel like it is unappreciated. I appreciate prayers and encouragement like nobody’s business :) If you think about some of the worst times in your life and think of the people who helped you through it, it most likely wasn’t that they said anything profound (or maybe that's just the group I hange around :)), but it was that they were there with you and in blogworld, that comment is how you show it.

T said...

This is such an honest post, one that I can and do relate with.
Although I believe that all we've been through was not in vain, I do find myself thinking about all the time and money we spent on doctors/tests/meds/supplements with a little regret.
But then I know that somehow, all will work out for the best and the money/time spent was not mine to hold on to. All these things are fleeting but what remains is the experience of learning to better trust His providence. I can faintly see myself looking back at these painful and difficult years with a deep sense of gratitude.
We need your prayers and we need to know about YOU because you are loved and cared for. And I (and I think others) appreciate any comments that people leave because it lets me (us)know that they are there.

JellyBelly said...

Oh TCIE, you have brought tears to my eyes.

It is a comfort that I have someone that is just barren as I am (I know that it's sick, but it is true). I also know that every month that AF comes I feel sad for you first. I kept myself from texting and apology to you on Saturday morning. Again, sick, I know.

I admire your tenacity and I know that I have not tried half of the options that you have (nor will I, I'm a coward).

I dream of a day when we both have children and we can all go to a Yankee game together then eat Mexican to celebrate their win. The left-behindedness that we're going through sucks. There's no point in sugarcoating it.

I'm praying for you. Please know that you're not alone.

Cecilia said...

I can relate to everything you've written here. Everything. Being left behind has always been the worst part for me. It's why I can't start a blog, it's why I'm in the IF closet (so to speak). I'm not strong enough to stand the loss of that support. And like you said, it's not that I don't want everyone to get their miracle....I just can't bear being alone.

But I too have kind of come into a quieter time. I realize that I have accepted not having kids. I just don't think of my future that way anymore, and it's strange but I can hardly remember what it was like before IF when my future looked so different to me. That in itself is sad but it's not the 'I want to claw myself apart from the inside out' torture that it was before. And I do find that I'm really grateful for this cross b/c it's forced me to rely on God so much more than I ever would have. So I completely understand that feeling of peace and a hope for the future even if it doesn't have children. It's nice. And I'm praying for you, of course :-)

Nicole said...

I agree with the everyone else that this is a beautiful post.

Life after IF is a weird thing. It's not that easy to adjust to and frankly I was always worried that the rug would be pulled out from under me. I felt awkward with the normal pregnant population and I also felt awkward with the IF group. I lurked and silently cheered everyone on because I felt like maybe what I had to say seemed "canned" or not sincere since I was in a different place. I wanted to think that wasn't the case but I just wasn't sure. It wasn't until the end of my pregnancy that I really felt comfortable commenting ect.

Now...I just rarely have time or energy to post. Being a new mom is really magical and completely overwhelming at the same time.

IF was the ugliest monster I have ever had to deal with in life and nothing in life came that easy for me to begin with. I can honestly say now looking back that it made me a stronger, better, more compassionate person. I got a chance to "know" some wonderful, supportive women that have forever touched my life.

I have always read your blog and I want you to know that while I don't post often I do pray for you always and I am sorry you feel left behind. I know that this won't define you as a person. You are a very strong, motivated, caring person. I know you will be a mommy and I pray that the day is coming soon.

[email protected] said...

You are amazing. I am speechless when you give us these gems to ponder. I have to tell you, that last line is a spiritual goldmine. God has not only been working in your life, He has been illuminating you.

Little JoAnn said...

This is the writing of a saint in action. My goodness...somebody needs to be at your side to make sure you publish this along with so many of your other writings.

You are a heroine in so many ways. A Doctor of the Cross.

There are so many lines in this reflection that are stunning and true and proof that He has you wrapped VERY tightly in His Embrace.

Even, though you probably think my final outcome would wipe away many of the thoughts you are now having, it did not entirely. And, I relate in a very incarnate way to what you are saying. I experienced the season of acceptance after 5 years of IF. After and before two seasons of total heartache. Still, GOD has a plan for you and you are so wise to say that you are NOT YOUR CROSS but that you have been called to PICK it up.

We are are now moving as well! We wait to see if our offer will be accepted on Friday. The main reason: we too have to go out and fish for entire new friends because IF laid waste to our past relationships, many of which were based on BEING infertile.

I can't wait to see how your future unfolds. And, I think it is safe for me to say, I expect it to be shockingly glorious.

Little JoAnn said...

I second what Leila said.

Your soul is thunderous and beyond brilliant in its radiance.

Again, I say, please consider publishing your work.

OOPS! And, congratulations on the HOUSE. Amazing Grace!

God has given you THE PLACE for what lies ahead.

Praying for Hope said...

You can still relate to your friends who have "crossed over." It's simply from a different perspective. You may not be able to say, "I've been there," but you can offer them something invaluable, something that's just as meaningful to someone going through IF as it is to someone who's going through pregnancy, adoption, etc.: and ear to listen and a hand for support. You don't need to be like everyone. Be yourself. You have plenty to offer to those around you.

dawn827 said...

I am one of those guilty of a generic comment or worst no comment at all. I always read your blog (I check almost every day lol) Although I hardly ever comment. Even while going thru IF hell myself I had a hard time finding the words to offer someone going through a hard time, even if it was something I went through myself.
So more so now I usually don't know what to say so I just say a quiet prayer for you (or whoever I'm thinking of) to myself and go on. I think people in general are uncomfortable with other peoples troubles, it's sad but its human nature.
I guess I'm trying to say is I think of you often and have cried and laughed with you even though I don't tell you and wish nothing but the best for you. I can't imagine what you are going though and I won't pretend to.
MG'S RULE! (Had to throw that out there)

The Comeaus said...

I want you to know right away, as someone else said, that whenever I tell anyone, "I'm praying for you," I DO stop right there and pray. And I'm sure you know that your prayers for others are never useless, never!

Although I've had one baby, I can still relate to you so well. Of course I would never pretend to understand all your pain; I truly don't know how you've coped this long, except by God's grace. At the same time, oh, do I feel left out as all my friends and family members have baby after baby. And you know what? Even though I have a child, they no longer have anything much to say to me. I DO know that kind of pain, I sure do!

Worse yet is when I read or hear moms of many children say things like having only one or two children is a "practically nonexistent family." Can you even believe that arrogance? Ahem--Jesus was an only child!! It hurts so much when people say things like that, or when they sneer at small families as if they know their situations. I, for one, do not choose to have only one baby; that is my cross right now, and the self-righteous attitude of large families hurts more than anything else, truly.

So, my point is, you would still feel left out even with a child, although for a different reason. On the other hand, with five babies you'd be looked down on for having "so many" kids, so what I'm trying to say is that we all feel left out with our crosses, some more than others. Yours is a particularly heavy cross, but just remember when you feel its weight that even those of us with a baby--or even several babies--feel left out for our own reasons, too. You're not alone there!

Does that help at all? Oh, do I feel left behind, forgotten, although it's nothing to what you must feel. All I ever wanted was a big, noisy family, and although I love my son to death, I see his loneliness and I feel the judgments of those who think we are doing this on purpose.

Also, I can also say there are *quite* a few things I've had to give up on after putting all my heart into them, one in particular. It was a horrible feeling, but God made it clear to me over time just why I had to give it up--truly, for something better. I'm not just saying that. Letting go is often the only way true blessings will come into our lives, and maybe you have reached that stage.

I'm always so touched, inspired and changed with every single post you write about these things. Also, you never know if God will take you totally by surprise with a child. I just read a story about a couple who waited 21 years for their baby, and when the woman was over 41, she discovered to her total surprise that she was pregnant. Don't ever give up your hope completely about this, as a friend recently said to me in my own suffering.

Sorry for the long comment! I only hope I haven't inadvertently made you even more sad.


A Martha trying to be Mary said...

¡Hola TCIE!

I have finally come out of the shadows!!! Before I had mentioned to you that I never felt comfortable commenting on your blog since I did not have one.

But after much reflection I decided to come out hiding and conquer my fear of expresing myself in English in such a public manner and now I have a blog.

Now from my blog I can tell you again how much I am praying for you and how much this post resonated with me. Every word and every feeling.

Awaiting a Child of God:) said...

I have just read everyone's response on here and I feel/agree with a lot of what many of them are saying. I am so impressed by your is admirable. Just think of just how impressed our Heavenly Father is with you. If I am in awe, imagine Him! You are in my thoughts. Hug around the neck:)

Anonymous said...

Very well said. God's will be done...

Love you -
J (big sis)