Thursday, November 8, 2012

So Confused

I have so many thoughts swimming around in my noggen, and yet haven't been able to post a single one of them. Mostly due to the fact that I can't make heads or tails of them.

I was originally planning a post entitled "Sandy," to discuss some of the aftermath of the hurricane (one of which being that our Monday Oct 29th "something" was cancelled and has not yet been revisited), but once I wrote the title of the draft, I just drew a complete blank. It was a good idea, in theory. Sandy, being the name of the hurricane that thwarted our plans, wreaked a heap of devastation on thousands upon thousands of people, oh, and demolished an 1873 Victorian playhouse in our backyard - as well as an accurate description of my thoughts, my current goal of emotional and physical "rebooting," in the midst of obstacles and barriers. "Sandy" was the title. But the content... was empty.

I must have sat at the computer for a full 3 minutes (which, trust me, is a long time to sit and stare at a computer screen) trying to form my thoughts before finally giving up. I had other, more productive things to do than force words out of my keyboard.

It made me angry. I used to enjoy blogging, and now, I just couldn't seem to make sense of anything. So instead of blogging, I took the pressure off of myself and my thoughts, and allowed them to argue amongst themselves for a while.

In the end, I am still confused. But now, I think I can at least understand why.

You see, I have gotten so used to being childless, that I have almost grown to rely upon it. It's difficult for me to envision life as a mother, not so much because it is painful, but because from a factual standpoint, I just don't see how it would ever come to be. And if it did... I'm terrified of the results.

Yes, you read that right. For 6 1/2 years I've done nothing but work tirelessly, paving any road I could to reach my dream, the only dream I've ever held so intensely... and now I'm terrified of the idea of it actually happening.

For starters, what would our family dynamic be like? I've come to rely upon the fact that I earn the steady, reliable income in our household, and if there were children to raise... who would raise them?? Would we need to change our entire outlook on parenting in order to make it work? Would I need to continue working full-time or more? Would DH continue working? Would the lives we've worked so hard to build for ourselves come toppling down?

Most days, I'm not even sure I want children anymore. There. I said it. And I'm going to do my best not to delete it by the time I hit "publish." As I'm trying to fall asleep at the end of a hectic day, or while relaxing on a Sunday afternoon, or while enjoying some wine and cheese at a party, I often think about how those moments would be destroyed if there were children in the picture. Not to mention all the other things in our house that would be destroyed. Expensive things. Irreplaceable things. Things I like. A lot.

Sounds awfully selfish, doesn't it? Yeah. To me, too.

Then... there's the moment. Admittedly these days, they are few and far between.
The moment when I remember the ache. When my heart jumps into my throat, and then falls like a stone into my stomach.
This particular moment came as I was struggling with the idea that maybe I was thankful, and dare I say even happy to not have children... and suddenly a picture text pops up on my phone. A picture of a dear blogger friend, holding the 2nd child of another blogger friend while her own 2nd child looks on in wonder.

And I lost it.

Hence, the confusion.

I think my mind is fighting my heart. And I think overall, my mind is winning. I don't know for sure if I really *don't* want children anymore, or at least right now... or if this is a very strategic defense mechanism put in place by my own subconscious mind. Maybe in an effort to a) protect me from going insane, b) avoid living in constant pain, and c) prepare for the most logical outcome to my life which would clearly be childless - my mind has developed patterns of thought that actually repel the desire for screaming, tantrum-throwing, bratty, dirty, messy kids.

But if so... is it working? And more importantly... do I want it to work??

I suppose life would be easier if I didn't want children. And those "moments" may eventually stop coming altogether.

When I look into my future... it is a void. And the scariest part is that doesn't scare me.


prayerfuljourney said...

I have the same thoughts you do at times too. My dh and I have been enjoying our childless lives as well. THat is okay! GOd paved this path for us. HE made us both teachers (eventhough right now I'm wondering if I want to stay in this field right now). If we had a baby...things would be tough. We'd both have to work, we'd have to find daycare and babysitters. We couldn't nap at any time we wanted too. I have things around the house that would have to be put away. For us, not having children is okay and in a way a blessing. I feel guilty sometimes too but I think that is normal. I'm with you....a baby would change a lot right now. We are comfortable.

Rebecca said...

I'm not sure it helps, and I know our situations while similar are also different, but I feel like you were in my head as I was reading this. I just had a total freak out in the car about "oh my gosh, what if we do have a baby?"

I worry about my job, how our family works right now, our "stuff", our dogs - everything. I had a "plan" and IF wasn't a part of it, now that it is and I've done my damnedest to live my life, actually getting what I've dreamed of is as scary as not getting it.

From one "terrified of it actually happening" girl to another, I have no answers, it's not easy, and I now know who I can offer all of this angst up for and have it perhaps be useful. I wish it wasn't you, for your sake, but somehow it fits - for both of us.

Kat said...

I can relate to this post a lot! I have been thinking those same thoughts. If we did have a child right now everything would change and I am just starting to get comfortable w/ being childless. The dynamic of my marriage would change as well and that scares me because I like it the way it is. I suppose it is a defense mechanism that protects me from the pain of IF but I also chalk it up to being at peace w/ where we are.

Anonymous said...

And doesn’t it feel weird. I mean your whole life all you ever wanted to be was a wife & a mother. Everyone keeps rooting for you, and praying for you… it feel like sometimes you want them to stop… because you want to. Stop all the madness; the blood work, the ultra sounds, all the meds, charting day after day. And you feel a wee bit guilty for wanting to give it all up and take your life back… from all the time, emotion, and physically consuming “job” of trying to become a mother. At least that’s what I’ve been feeling. My husband & I married 7/7/07 after dating for 7 years, we were both 27. We found out we were having our first child March 8, 2009. Our second was on January 18, 2010, and the third September 30, 2011. The furthest I ever made it was 8 weeks. We have been trying non-stop to get pregnant for over 4 years… so I too know the pain of infertility, along with the pain of losing my children. The thought of becoming pregnant again actually scares me to death, though I keep trying. I see a picture of someone’s tiny fingers, and tiny feet, and my heart screams at me that my brain has been lying to me! A few moments pass, and my brain takes back over. I don’t know if I could go through losing another child… but I keep trying, for my husband, those tiny fingers & feet, my parents, and the rest of the family that’s cheering us on… while on the inside I start to think about how much I’d really like to travel, and finally start to live my life… and maybe not worry so much about creating one.

I want to thank you for your blog, and though I know at times it has to be extremely hard to be able to pour it all out… I appreciate it. Your blog makes it comforting to know that I’m not alone in this journey… that someone else knows exactly what it feels like (as none of my friends/family do). Your post today just really hit home with precisely how I’ve been feeling lately, so I had to make my first comment, finally :) Sorry I’m not yet ready to be un-anonymous, but I want to thank you for sharing your journey. God Bless

Unknown said...

I really relate to feelings in this post, even though on the outside our lives are totally different. (I've got 5 kids under age 10).

I've often felt like what you are describing is a special cross unique to IF. My babies came so early in my marriage and in my career--I didn't have time to get things into a nice pattern before the challenges of raising a newborn hit.

So I would just really encourage you to express your feelings and keep talking to God about them. This does not make you a bad Mom--its makes you a "real" Mom. I promise you that if your Sister finds out she's newly pregnant she's going to have major fears of "wrecking" her life. It's not going to be on the scale of your feelings, or carrying the same guilt as feeling that while struggling with IF--but it's a universal Mom fear.

Sew said...

I'm never texting you again. I always make you cry.

Amy @ This Cross I Embrace said...

Lol! Usually it's crying from laughter ;) Still waiting for you to post the frog video...

Endless Strength said...

I think your thoughts are normal. yes even to this non-IF'er.

A few months back, I was writing about how I don't want anymore children and I felt confused and even selfish. There's this part of me that wants to see what life is like with no children under age 6. There's this part of me that wants to get my exercise time back. There's this part of me that wants it to be a CHOICE for my husband to work nights and not a NECESSITY.

But then...I slip back into the idea that it will all be okay if we do have another baby. Eventually, my body will shut down and no more babies will come and I will have all of my children over the age of 6. It might be the five I have now or it might be more. I don't know. but I get confused about my brain and what I want or don't want or what God wants and doesn't want from me.

I do hope it's okay to chime in. I don't mean to sound flip at all or anything like that. I really like reading your perspective and Rebecca's, too, because it helps me not to take the life I have for granted and to realize that my struggles are very real for me, just like your struggles are very real for you. we just have different struggles.

Anonymous said...

I know exactly how you feel. As much as I sometimes wish I had a baby, I've gotten used to my life the way it is and the idea of a change sends my mind into extreme contortions.

Anonymous said...

" I'm terrified of the idea of it actually happening." So are you saying that you are finally pregnant but scared about your future?

Amy @ This Cross I Embrace said...

Silvana - that would be sneaky of me, wouldn't it? Does sound like something I would do...

But, no.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but I got mislead by the "actually happening" part of the sentence. Anyway having a kid can be pretty scary, once a friend of mine told me that being a parent is the only job you can never quit..

airing the chapel said...

Thanks for writing this post. I am big believer in trusting what you write and not hitting 'delete' or not posting the post, which I've done more times than I'd like to admit.

I think by virtue of being childlessness after trying so hard (although you tried many years more than we did) we have very similar feelings. I never feel selfish by accepting, embracing, loving even, not have children. We tried to have kids but we never got pregnant so accepting reality can never be labeled "selfish" IMO. Some Catholics have even questioned whether they "harbor a contraceptive mentality" which is crazy to me in the extreme. I guess it's not enough to not use contraception, you can't even think about it. That is taking the Catholic faith too far.

I understand being confused and it hurts me to read you see the void in your future. Void? You're obviously a gifted woman, get out and do things you enjoy and couldn't do with kids. I told some of my company vendors at lunch yesterday that, "after my husband I decided we weren't going to have children (I change the story a bit depending on the audience), we were going to travel and do studly vacations." And you know what??? All the people with kids are jealous as all get out. Not that, that's my goal (OK, not really) but celebrate what you/I have!!!! You owe that to yourself and dare I say it, God. God wants you to be happy to live your life to the fullest.

Now, if associating with bloggers with kids causes pain, you might try spending more time with the bloggers (although some of us live on the West coast) that don't have kids. We are a fun bunch if I do say so myself. Please don't beat yourself up over how you feel. Life really is too short.

E said...

I felt the same when we were infertile. It was nice. It was good. Life was easy, except for the constant pain of the IF.

But, being a parent is really hard. I could go on and on, but I know the pain and suffering of both sides.

The truth is the Lord wants us to be thankful for what we have and where we are in life. That brings the most grace and peace.

Anonymous said...

I've suffered from infertility for 9 years. Last September I discovered I was pregnant. You wouldn't believe how much I cried - to others they were tears of joy; Only God and I know they were tears of exhaustion, laziness, fear of plan changing and - please don't laugh- jealous that my husband would love our child more than he loves me.
During the infertility years We are afraid of having hope and afraid of not having hope. Don't loose time trying to understand your feelings and don't demand much from yourself.
I pray for you everyday across the ocean.

Amazing Life said...

I think you are brave for putting it all out there! No state in life is easy, there are lessons at every stage. I would never have believed that being a parent would be this hard, not that I am not thankful, it is just that it is as hard as the days I would weep for babies ;) Maybe I am just a wimp! lol.

Little JoAnn said...

Defense mechanism and a darn good one it is. I had it for a long, long time...and guess what? I still often feel that I don't want children because I didn't have them for so long I got use to it.

There. I said it.

And, it probably doesn't help you to hear it one bit.

Katie said...

I love your blog. I have one child after 12 years of trying. And now he is 7 and I think that is it. So many years of no children leads me to the same conclusion as you. So totally normal. I know I don't want more children most days b/c, b/c, to be honest there has been more pain associated with motherhood than joy. There. I said it too. Maybe my defense mechanism is like the Berlin Wall--will it come down?

Anonymous said...

Dear TCIE:

It's okay to be happy where you are in life right now. It's okay to be happy childless. You are open to life, and that's what God wants. Lots of people strive for gratitude. It's okay to appreciate the life you have, the stability of an income, the objects you own.

Of course, it's scary to think what a huge disruption and huge responsibility and all the changes that goes into having a child. But no need to worry about that bridge until you cross it.

I think you should just drop that cross, so you can fully embrace gratitude and contentment. I've read your blog, and you've suffered so much.

If you do have children, then you'll experience the joy and frustrations of that journey.

I don't have children myself and sometimes I'm really bummed about it. But there are times when I really appreciate being childless like sleeping the entire night or spending an entire Saturday reading a really good book.

God gave me life, and I think He wants me to find joy in it. If I ever have children then I'll find joy in motherhood and will probably be crabby at the same time from not sleeping and not showering.

Hey, the apostle Paul was childless and he found contentment in jail. Okay, Paul was a guy, so he probably didn't have the maternal feelings we have.


Cecilia said...

I completely understand the way you're feeling I think it's normal (or else I'm not normal too). There's nothing wrong with admitting that there are legitimate positives to not having kids. And there's nothing wrong with liking the way your life is functioning now. For me, I think I fell into thinking that IF was a cross that would be lifted if I could just have children. As if carrying the cross was something I could do for a time and then finish, having paid my dues. But there's always a cross waiting to replace it. And that's not said in despair, but only to emphasize that unless we are to be miserable for all our earthly lives, there's nothing wrong with seeing the good points of a given cross as long as we remain open to whatever God has planned for the future. I've been thinking about you - very glad to see a new post :-)

Anonymous said...

I think from one IF'er to another (we do have twins (ten years in the making)it is easy to allow our mind, our human mind to take over and create mechanisms to protect, cover, dilute the pain and even mascarade as though we are no longer bothered by our angst. But believe me its easy to make IF your LIFE and LIVE for the IF rather than live life with IF. I had the same feelings you are sharing. I'd think, if only i could have our child then we can move on and live our lives. We were literally living our lives around our infertility. We were missing the point. So we began over, we renewed our vows to each other, to God and began living our lives, found a new path with the help of God and St. Gerard and the Blessed Mother and in time we began to live life with one aspect of our life being IF rather than our wholes lives being IF. With that our marriage strengthen, our faith strengthen and in time we were blessed with a pregnacy of not one child but two:twins. so what i am saying is it is time to stop negotiating, stop brow beating yourself, allow yourself to feel what you feel with no explanations due or reservations, guilt or shame and finally begin living, planning life such as it is and adding to it day by day, week by week, month by God given month and you will see change, love, strength and prayers answered, the real prayers that God knows in your heart.
Gods speed and love to you and your DH

JellyBelly said...

I do get this paradox -- and it makes me feel so guilty to admit it. We both have gotten so "good" at being IF that it's gotten comfortable.

I wish I had something more earth shattering to say, but I've been at a loss for words as of late.

You and Mr TCIE continue to be in my daily prayers!

Women for All Seasons said...

You know what, I have never experienced any kind of IF and I think I understand (at least the terrifyingness of having a real baby).

I don't think it matters how long you've wanted kids, whether it's been zero days and you find yourself unexpectedly pregnant, or 10,000 days of trying very very hard--having a baby is terrifying, and totally life changing.

Honestly I don't know I would have had the guts to do it if I wasn't Catholic and open to life.


the misfit said...

As I've recently mused (and not at all shockingly), I feel a lot of the same things. Sure, there are defense mechanisms working here. And, sure, there is still pain with the magnitude of the loss. Now, I don't know that your path and mine are likely to be the same in the long run. You and your DH are still very much interested in adoption a few years down the road, yes? I don't know that that's likely for us. (Though at last count we are in wills as the prospective guardians for FIFTEEN children, and if all of those parents die I am going to be PISSED. Plus I would rename some of those kids on day one. Naming rights are wasted on some people. Anyway.) But at present we're on more or less the same stretch of road. The blessing we haven't been given IS a blessing, and to recognize the magnitude of the loss is only sensible. But in my view, if this IS your life, and you appreciate things about it that you would be sad to lose, that's not a coping mechanism. That's sanity and gratitude. I'm concerned that people are tempted to categorize appreciation of a childless life as a combination of selfishness and laziness - maybe even a passive imbibing of the culture of death. "Oh, you're really attached to sleeping in on Saturdays? Me too, and I have ten children! These are just the vices we need to mortify to be the mothers we're supposed to be." Ridiculous. There are genuine and SERIOUS blessings associated with a childless life for which it would be wrong NOT to be grateful. More than that, if this is how God is shaping our lives, we ought to appreciate the good points, and recognize the essential things about it - the opportunity to work so we can pay our bills, the relatively more free time that we may need to pursue healing in our marriages, the freedom to pursue relationships that build other people up - people who might not receive the love and support and time they need from friends if all their friends had children. (We've all had the experience of realizing that we cleared hours of our time to make a friend the first priority for our attention, and we're STILL her tenth priority - she's barely even paying attention.) That may be a committed practice of motherhood, but it's a deeply impoverished love and friendship for everyone but those kids. And there are plenty of members of the body of Christ who need to be loved, noticed, and heard - not ignored or used as a captive audience for baby pictures. There's more to childlessness than not raising children. God wouldn't have allowed us to live in this mode if it did not offer a way for us to become the best versions of ourselves, give Him glory, and attain holiness.

Hebrews 11:1 said...

I'll add my two cents, although it matches what the others have said, and they said it better than I will!!

There are blessings and crosses to all callings in life, and I don't think you should feel the least bit bad about enjoying the blessings in your life!! There is nothing wrong with enjoying the life God has given you--in fact, I think He wants that for us! Enjoying the blessings of a childless life doesn't mean you think kids aren't a blessing, and it doesn't mean you are glad that people suffer from infertility. That was something I always had difficulty with too. I felt like if I appreciated the blessings that came along with infertility, it would mean that I was somehow glad that some people suffer from infertility. I'm still learning to deal with those conflicted feelings, but I'm just beginning to grasp that that is not in fact true at all.

And I remember being afraid I would actually get pregnant too. I think that is probably a common feeling. I think Misfit is dead-on with this statement--"There's more to childlessness than not raising children. God wouldn't have allowed us to live in this mode if it did not offer a way for us to become the best versions of ourselves, give Him glory, and attain holiness." I could not agree more. The best vocation is the one God calls us to, and regardless of what that vocation entails, there is nothing nobler than living the life God has planned for you. So I see nothing wrong with delighting in the life you are living! :)

DM + AM said...

I can so relate and am starting to relate more and more with so many of your posts. Thank you for the honesty and courage. It is only now that I am just starting to find my own voice in this... You are a light in our life and have really given us hope for health after after my diagnosis... You are a beautiful person! We love you and Mr. TCIE!

Anonymous said...

Amen TCIE!
I echo Cecilia and the misfit's comments wholeheartedly.
Very grateful for all of your honesty and willingness not to push "delete" button on any of your posts or comments. So many raw feelings and emotions that go into this experience and its refreshing to read of honesty. As someone who is trying (often unsuccessfully!) to make peace with 6 years of IF, dare I use the term child-free in place of child-less?!

All in His Perfect Timing said...

I've thought similar thoughts - I don't know how I would adapt to a baby ... I don't really want to have children ... so much of your post I can identify with. I can identify with the self-preservation of your thoughts & feelings.

LifeHopes said...

I think there is a certain freedom in embracing the state of life we are in. Some states are easier than others, but regardless, there are perks to be enjoyed all around!

I do not know God's plans for my fertility. Really I don't. And for the first time, I really don't care. Not to sound callous, but just that I am not into trying to control it anymore. Its just so EXHAUSTING.

I also don't view fertility the way I used to, like some kind of idol to be worshipped. ( not in any way saying you do this, but I confess, it was an idol of mine for a LONG time.)
It is a gift, but so is marriage, and life, and health, etc...

Sure, I'd love 10 more kids. As long as they are easy ones, ha ha. But I just cannot control these things and that is okay. Therefore, I will drink on the beach during naptime while we vacation:) I will plan more fun vacations while my pregnant fertile friends cannot ... and I will try not to feel guilty about these things bc I am open to life but just aint that fertile. It is what it is.

I can't help it that I can enjoy good drink and fine food while a sitter looks after my kids on date night because I don't nurse my babies anymore ... I do ache when everyone I know keeps birthing babies but what can I do? Not a damn thing.

So I say enjoy your state in life. Thanks be to God in plenty and in want.

And if I or a kid of mine was involved in that text, PLEASE forgive me. I NEVER EVER want to cause you an ounce more pain than you are already enduring!!!!

I love you and am praying for you still. And still enjoy reading your blog posts. Please don't stop blogging!

Ania said...

Hope the post Sandy recovery is going ok.

I love this post TCIE and I've especially love reading the comments too. I like what someone said about not being miserable your whole life. Even though there are crosses, it suits us well to find gratitude. Glad you are enjoying the good things in your life.

I hesitate to say this, but I'm going to. I am not sure if this child will be our only one or not. The physical and emotional pains of IF and now pregnancy have taken their toll. In a lot of ways pregnancy has been more painful than IF. I've really been wrestling with whether I'd even want to pursue IF treatment in the future. Wow I feel like a terrible person for it, but I said it. I hope I haven't added to your sorrow by sharing this.

All I can say is, I can relate and I don't think there's anything wrong with finding contentment in what you have. In fact there's a great passage in Hebrews that speaks well to that exact topic.

Made For Another World said...

Second what misfit and hebrews said. And many others. At this point in my life, I'm always referring to the Serenity Prayer. In the wisdom to know the difference of changing something or not, lies gratitude for what is good about a situation. And in that gratitude, you start changing your desires. God does that. I think it might be how he helps us accept His will. Just guessing. You are in my daily prayers...

Becky said...

First time reader here...

I have five children, and i have to confess, I often wonder, "how many more years will I have to have more kids??" And I feel very guilty for thinking this, especially because I remember those like you, who are infertile and would like children.

I think it's normal and human. And yes, speaking for myself, selfish. I try to hide my feelings from God each time I'm with my husband, hoping secretly that I'm not pregnant, because we already have a large family, and we are running out of room, we don't have much money, I don't know if I can handle another, ect. But God gives us children in the seasons of my life and usually when I least expect it. I told my friend today that the parents don't just shape the children, the children also shape the parents. It's easy to want things to stay the same and comfortable, so I get that. And children usually mess up whatever comfortable and routine thing you have in your life.

I guess what I'm trying to say is not to be too afraid to see this in yourself--these fears. Look at them, address them, and bring them to God, because He already knows about it. And remember, we all have these moments of selfishness (if that's what you want to call it.) It certainly doesn't go away when you become a mother! My selfishness and self-will still rears its ugly head!

Okay, I'm stepping off my podium now. Thank you for your honesty and candor. And all I would say for parting advice is, daily, hourly, and every time you worry, give it all to God--childless or not, let Him decide and you can be assured what happens is what is best for you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this.....My dh and I have been TTC for 3 years, and I often have these same feelings. It's incredibly consoling to me to know that these feelings are normal and that others are having them too. Praying constantly, we find ourselves content right now, and indifferent to conception.

Alive in HOPE! said...

Still haven't made it to NYC yet, but I know that when we do, I really do want to meet you in person... Sometimes when you write, I read my own heart in your words.

I am SO glad to hear that you came through Hurricane Sandy okay. I'd been wondering, but have been a bit absent from the blogosphere lately (trying to figure out where God wants me to be).

Take care and, hopefully, I will see you real soon! :)