Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A New Identity

I'm sorry I haven't updated in a while.

Well, that's not even the whole truth.  I'm sorry.  But I'm also not sorry.

And that dichotomy pretty much sums up how I've been feeling these past few weeks.

I'm full of joy.  And I'm full of sorrow.

I'm grateful.  And I'm guilty.

I'm humbled.  And I'm proud.

I'm amazingly calm.  And I'm anxious.

I'm starving.  And I'm nauseous.

I'm fatigued.  And I can't sleep.

I'm horny.  And I'm gassy.

My emotions and my physical symptoms aren't the only things that appear completely at odds with themselves.  I also can't wrap my mind around HOW to blog, anymore.  WHAT to blog.  WHO is blogging...

That's the real issue.  I feel that I have lost my identity.  I have always been TCIE.  The veteran infertile.  A.S., the FertilityCare Practitioner and RDMS coming to a Skype near you every two weeks and a transvaginal ultrasound probe near you (very near you) over holiday weekends and the like.

Don't get me wrong.  I don't lament my shedding of that identity.  Because I've gained a new one, one I've been preparing for for 8 years (or, if I'm being honest, much longer than that, in my mind's eye).

Now, I am a mother.

I'm a veteran infertile.  And I'm a mother.

But, you see, that's not the truth.  It's not the truth, at all.

I'm NO LONGER infertile.  I'm simply, and miraculously, a mother.

And that's an identity I'm not yet familiar with.

I don't know HOW to be TCIE, the Mother.  (I'm a professional at being TCIE the Infertile FertilityCare Coordinator and Sonographer.)

I just got promoted to the job of a lifetime, and it will take me some time to stop performing all of the job duties of my last job - that job I held for 8 years, and climbed to the top of that career ladder.

But the weird part is, I still feel a sense of obligation to my prior job, and all of the people I served through it.  And that's where my heart breaks in two.

When I announced my pregnancy to family and co-workers alike, every single one of them commented about how great it would be for my patients, clients, and blog readers to hear this news.  And every single time, I balked.  "Uhhhhh... well.... it's incredibly hard to explain.... yes, they'll be happy.  Yes, it may be a source of hope for them.  But, it won't be met without pain and sorrow."
The words I was choosing were not really being understood, however.  I just couldn't seem to find the right words to convey what, perhaps, only other infertile women would understand.

But then, I received this email response from Rebecca at The Road Home.  Her email had exactly the words I was searching for, exactly the emotions I was trying so hard to convey to the "non" infertiles in my life.  I read it to my mother.  And through her tears and nods, she responded that she understood.  She really understood.  And she would pray for Rebecca (and The Man), and for all couples still carrying this cross of infertility.
With Rebecca's permission, I will share that email response to my personal email announcement to her, here:

This might be the most honest email I've ever sent - so please feel free to ignore it.

I've wondered if I should tell you that twice last week I felt compelled to pray for you and resisted the urge to tell you I was having "good feelings" - for fear of sending you on an unnecessary roller coaster. (As having been on the receiving end recently of "good feelings" and "dreams about pregnancy" messages I realized those aren't especially helpful to receive.)

I almost emailed or texted you yesterday to vent and didn't - and only because I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me not to.

I have wondered if you realize you will SO be the story that people tell about "this one lady I know..." ;) (really, smile and giggle at it while rolling your eyes)

I will be honest and admit that I finally shed tears this evening when I read your post - tears purely for myself and not for you, and I share this ONLY because I KNOW you know what I mean. These tears that now we are different, that I am SO SO SO happy we are different, but that we are different. That the island of infertility is a little less fun because you are off it, and that I am so glad you are gone, but that I already miss you.

I miss you so much it hurts.

And I feel awful for that, because I miss you, but as much as I miss you, I am infinitely more glad you are gone from this island.

And at the same time as all of this, I see beauty.

Beauty that I know I will hit send, because I know you "get it".

Beauty that I confidently call you friend.

Beauty at what has transpired in your life and marriage in the last 12 months.

I am praying for you - that you are soon throwing up and feeling quite awful as that sweet baby takes over your life. I am praying that you are holding a sweet child in 9 months and all that follows because we both know that the sadness of infertility isn't just about a BFP, but about a life unlived. I am praying you experience every. single. second. possible. of the life that will be lived.

I am giving thanks for the healing in your marriage. And for Rob's health. All of it.

And, finally, if I may, I am asking for prayers. I began a 54-day Novena yesterday asking for God to make His will known in our lives as it relates to pursuing parenthood. There is more behind what led to that, but all that is for another day. For now, I am placing my desires at His feet and begging Him to make His plan known to me, no matter what. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared, but I am fighting it and trying to trust.

I don't know what else I want to say, just that I hope you relish and enjoy every moment of this new journey you are on. We both know it is not one that can be earned, but when it comes after such a long wait, it should be rejoiced in fully and without apology.

Life is gift. Nothing more. Nothing less.

And for that we can say, Deo gratias!

Love and prayers my dear dear friend!

I get it.  I assure you... I get it.
As do so, so many women who may be reading your words this very moment.

At times, I just cannot contain the joy I feel in my heart, feeling my baby within me, knowing there is life in a once barren womb.  But that same heart that is full of joy also breaks with compassion for my sisters in Christ who are pained by my blessing.  NOT out of jealousy.  NOT out of envy.  But out of yearning for a blessing, themselves, and not having any answers why some crosses are visibly lifted while others are not.

I get it.  I so get it.

For my dear sisters in Christ, those who are friends IRL, friends here on the blog, friends from other online sources, and even those who read and have never commented, I want you to know that I get it.  You need not explain ANYthing that you do or do not do as it relates to me or this blog in the future.  You are mothers.  Every single one of you.  Your maternal hearts are what need protecting, now, and to seek others who are where you are- feel how you feel- without judgement, without drama.

To that end, I would like to share here a group on Facebook that is specifically designed to serve your needs for support, advice, commiseration and celebration, no matter what stage of infertility you are in (even those with prior infertility).  It is a way to bridge the gap and grasp the common thread together, through our shared Catholic faith.  It is a secret group, meaning it is not searchable nor will any of your posts be "public" on your Facebook account.

To be added to the group, please email Rebecca, the group's founder, at:

[email protected]

To conclude, I promise to keep writing and updating in the future, as I go back to that post I wrote just before finding out I was pregnant - the post called "Acceptance" - and realize, hey, maybe I should take my own advice, eh?  My current identity is that of a pregnant mother to an unborn child.  That is my Present.  The most important thing to Accept.  While I acknowledge and accept my past infertility, and my still unknown future, I accept that I am currently with child (and will always be a mother), and embrace that blessing.

This Blessing, I (will work constantly to) Embrace, in the same way I worked to embrace my cross of the past.

God bless you all.


Unknown said...

Thank you for this post. Praying for this new identity to be one that you revel in for quite some time. Hoping some day to get off the island myself, knowing it can't be earned (like Rebecca said) and I already find myself pondering how difficult and conflicting that time in life must be after a prolonged period of infertility.

Praying for everyone dreaming of a child, including myself.

Chella said...

Amy, great post. Thanks for it. I am looking forward to hearing about you as a mother who is pregnant, a mother with a newborn, and like Rebecca said, every experience after that.

Anonymous said...

I echo Rebecca and Conceiving Hope. I think if we're going with the island analogy, I'm the bartender. I'll always be there, I live there, and I'll see people come and go. But one of the greatest blessings of being the year-round resident bartender is getting to meet all the beautiful souls who come and go. Some stay for a while, some stay for a lifetime, some just a few seasons. But I'll always be grateful for the time spent on the island with you.

Thankful said...

Rebecca's email was amazing and bridging the gap is tough; thank you for doing it so eloquently. I wish I could say that it gets easier and maybe it has - or maybe it just became different. The pain and longing along with our sisters (and brothers) in IF is just as real and sharp. The guilt is there - especially when I make a parenting misstep. :) And the joy and grace wrap it all up with love.

Kaitlin @ More Like Mary said...

Beautiful post. I find myself very much still identifying with those with IF, even though I'm a far cry from it with a third child in my womb. The pain hasn't left, only changed. And I still ache and cry at the posts I read in the Facebook group.

Amy @ This Cross I Embrace said...

Connieann, can't wait to read your blog post on your thoughts on identity.

With your analogy of the bartender, all I could think of was The Piano Man - and maybe I was Billy Joel ;) I may have just left that crazy bar full of suffering, longing, hoping, and sadness for a position in the snooty country club with virgin margaritas... but I will never forget that the essence of that bar was PURE FUN, and even joy in the midst of great sadness... with REAL friends, and REAL alcohol ;)

Amazing Life said...

Beautiful post, so much of what I would imagine so many of us who have 'crossed' over to motherhood would say was their emotional experience during a miraculous pregnancy.
I have a very busy 3 year old and STILL I am in awe that God blessed me with the gift of a child and the opportunity to be a Momma to him. No day goes by that I am not thankful and there are LOTS of days that I am just wondering how God brought life to my once so damaged body! Rejoicing with you and always praying for those still waiting, trusting and being so brave!

Casey said...

Beautiful post. Thank you (and Rebecca) for sharing that heartfelt email. I echo her sentiments about bring glad you're finally off the island, while it also being OK to be sad I'm still on it.
One part of the email really struck me:
" we both know that the sadness of infertility isn't just about a BFP, but about a life unlived."
I've really been feeling that recently about both missing out on the life of motherhood and missing out really living the life I do have inspite of infertility.
Anyway, thanks again, and I look forward to any new posts you write as you journey this new stage of life and learn how to be this expanding (ha!) new version of yourself.

WheelbarrowRider said...

This is a perfect email from R and a perfect post from you. I echo AL and Kaitlin's sentiments. Also, being a mom with IF (yes, that is so possible as I still can't have children at will) comes with it's own identity, including guilt as a new best friend (at not doing it right, appreciating it more, being better at it, etc). I look forward to you continuing to blog from you current perspective, as you always have. And while some may no longer read for a post or a season, perhaps a new group of readers will benefit from your insight in this new phase. I know I have always followed, and will always continue, regardless of what perspective you come from because when I come here, I seek Amy's thoughts and whatever that means. God continues to work through you and tell the story that needs to be told.

Cousin V said...

Stopping by to offer my congratulations on your pregnancy. :)

Stephanie @ Blessed to Be said...

Another great post! Thanks for your honest and heartfelt reflections, Amy!

[email protected] said...

I love Rebecca and I love you. You both are some of my favorite people in the world. God has gifted you both to the rest of us. I am grateful to Him for that.

E said...

this great place of in between is a difficult place to be in. I remember it well and sometimes still feel that way, now two (2!) kids into motherhood. Relish the time of opposites and the same all at once. Just thank Jesus for the pain and for the joy.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Amy! Post just published. Kind of cried while reading it to my husband. Love you and Congratulations.

Ania said...

A large part of why I think I've stopped blogging is because in addition to the time lack, I also didn't want to hurt the women who supported me in my lowest moments. "Crossing over" is weird and it's hard to know where to fit in. IF leaves its indelible mark, but so does motherhood. The guilt that comes along for the ride is difficult, especially when you don't enjoy every moment. I wasn't really prepared for that, but I've done my best to try and continue to be gentle with myself. One thing I've learned for sure is to have compassion...for both sides of the fence. Keep writing dear Amy and know that whatever you face from here on out, there will be someone who "gets it".

Lea said...

What a beautiful email your friend wrote. I have been blessed with two miracles and, yet, I never forget the place I was before they came into my life, thus never forgetting the countless women who yearn for children. They are always very close to my heart. I know the feeling of happiness, yet sadness upon hearing of a pregnancy and, sadly, sometimes that is still my reaction as it was embedded in my whole being for too many years.

Katie said...

Yes, the identity thing! I know that I was so lucky/blessed (because apparently people prefer different terms)to spend such a short time--two years--on the island. But at the same time I feel like I was just starting to identify as infertile, and now I'm trying to figure out my identity as a mother, but I still went through IF to get here... and sometimes I still feel more comfortable reading in the IF facebook group than the moms group, but then I feel guilty in the IF group. I don't know. Like Ania said, its weird.

Praying for Hope said...

It's an interesting line to balance. Between world's. Still identifying as IF but "on the other side." I haven't mastered it well - I like to talk about my daughter because she is my life now - so I rarely blog or comment anymore for fear that I will hurt or inadvertently offend no matter how sensitive I try to be. Maybe you will have better luck finding the balance. I can see you're going to do you utmost best.

Mike Brummond said...

You have a beautiful heart and soul. So blessed by your realness, and that you have been there for me and so many in our IF journeys.

Rebecca said...

I love you.

Anonymous said...

god bless you on your new journey! i am beyond happy for you, and i even have my husband saying, "i can't believe she's finally pregnant!" (though he follows it up with, "they always get pregnant!" - and then I slap him). Anyway, welcome to this new identity, the identity of a sub-fertile woman ;) I love your intentions here and I hope they play out. Its a lot harder as your reality changes. I read one infertility blogger, maybe you?, a long time ago that said something along the lines of God forbid her blog become a daily chronicle of how hard it is to deal with a baby if she were ever to have a baby...and those words have echoed in my head ever since. Anyway, your identity is new and yet really old, as you said, you've been working towards this for so long. Let no one begrudge you for finally living it out in a real way, yet may God keep your heart soft to those who still hurt! Praying for this baby still!