Monday, October 27, 2014

Nothing to Offer

Yes, it's been a while.

And don't get me started on the irony (or perhaps, appropriateness) of a title that has been written and sitting here awaiting a body for about 4 weeks, now.

But that is the gist.  I just feel that lately, I have nothing to offer to this particular blogging community.

Oh, I get the whole hope thing, and how important it is, and that perhaps, for some, my story offers that intangible gold nugget - but at least for me, while I was in the trenches, what I needed most was to know that things would be ok no matter if children were a part of the equation or not.  And while I hope that my archives can still offer that to those women currently struggling with childlessness and infertility, I just don't feel like my pregnancy ramblings, ultrasound photos, and discussion of nurseries and cribs and names are serving much purpose, here.

I do want to continue writing.  But mostly, I want to be true to myself.  And my self feels that right now, in this moment, today, I have nothing to offer.  That may sound like a bad thing, but actually, for me right now, it's good.  And perhaps for the childless/infertility blogging community, it's likewise good.  Because I am embracing a new role in life.  I quite literally feel like from the moment I became a mother, my body and mind morphed from Infertile to Mother.  My body just immediately perked up and said, "Pregnancy?  Oh, yeah, we got this.  We know what to do, now."  And my mind went, "Infertility?  Childless?  Whaaaa?  What's that?  We closed that chapter, already, onto the next one."

And, I'll let you in on a little secret.  A secret I've never personally heard anyone who has crossed over admit, but a secret I ALWAYS wondered if I'd discover one day, and if so, if I'd have the gall to share it with you.

I am TCIE, after all.  So, duh, of course I'm going to share it with you.

Once you cross over?  Both an instantaneous AND a slower long-term "childless amnesia" set in.

Now, I can't assume this is the case for everybody, but I highly, highly suspect it is the case, and that it's just difficult to admit, for a variety of guilt-inducing reasons.

But I am here to tell you, while my heart still aches for, my mind still becomes occupied with, and perhaps more than ever my soul still prays for all of my friends, blog readers, and strangers who are struggling with childlessness... becoming a physical mother has changed me, and my memory of just how bad it was, and still is for so many.  It was so easy for me to "dismiss" the miracles I saw around me, secretly disproving that anything miraculous actually took place, and that other people, what seemed like ALL other people, at the time, were simply lucky whereas I was not.  And then, it was just as easy for me to jump on the Miracle Bandwagon when this amazing (tangible) blessing took place in my own life.  How quickly I forgot.  How quickly I still forget, while simultaneously being super aware.  It's a very weird place to be.

For example, I planned to no longer work at my office, and concentrate more on working from home, after December - because I assumed that would be when I'd be "noticeably" pregnant.

(Pregnant belly picture warning... and giant pitbull butt warning):

And then came 12 weeks gestation.  POP she goes.  No more hiding it, and only bringing up the subject with my patients and clients when they were in a good place emotionally.  Basically they are all now greeted by my baby, who is apparently growing perpendicularly to my body.

And suddenly, ever aware of my own blessing, and ever aware of the pain it was causing others, I felt stuck, again.  I was torn between hiding it, being as sensitive as possible, announcing it verbally to patients, and NOT wanting to hide it, wanting to rejoice in my big-headed little munchkin, rolling all around in my uterus, giving me a reason to buy a new maternity wardrobe I never thought I'd be buying, and new maternity boots (yes, those are maternity boots, they are a necessary purchase for pregnant feet, that is my story, and I'm sticking to it).

I err on the side of sensitivity, always, but when a woman walks in for her first ultrasound, having never met me before, and her eyes make an almost undetectable glance downwards to my belly and her face suddenly looks like my heart used to feel only a few short months ago... I'm immediately taken back, but, again, secret-divulging:  it's not the same.  While I recognize, and sympathize, I can no longer empathize, and a large part of my pain for her is my own guilt and sorrow that I cannot offer her anything.  I cannot offer her a promise that she, too, will experience this one day.  I cannot offer her solace in that moment, when she's probably face-palm texting every one of her IF friends' on her cell phone, as for years to come, they will talk about "that time you went in for your ultrasound series for infertility and THE TECH WAS PREGNANT."  I cannot offer her anything but my sympathy.  And that stinks.

But, it's also beautiful.  It's beautiful because where I once stood as a source of comfort for those whose struggles I understood intimately WHILE going through it, myself, now is the time for my role to be filled as I move on to assume and embrace the new one.

I doubt, (especially now that I've spilled the secret), that my posts from here on out will be of any value to those currently dealing with infertility or childlessness, but I do hope that it can help those who may be where I am, now.  Mother, after infertility (and inadoption).  Trying to balance a joy I can hardly contain with a guilt and sorrow that is only a fraction of the sorrow I was once consumed by daily.  Moving forward without regret, without fear, without reservation.

Because at the end of the day, I am no longer the same TCIE, and I never, ever will be again.  I will not presume to take on an identity that no longer defines me, and I will not pretend that I currently fully empathize with those whose identities are defined in spite of themselves.  Even if someday I find myself trying, for 16 years, to adopt or conceive a second child, it will not be the same.  And I love you all too much to pretend for your sake that it will.  In fact, I think in admitting this, I'm really proclaiming just how awesome and brave you all are.  The toughest part of the cross, for me, was the unknown - and a close second was the being left behind.  Often, those same women who left me behind the first time went on to leave me behind a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th time.  Obviously, that was my cross and not theirs.  Obviously, it was a way for me to try to learn humility, to not make comparisons, to trust in God's divine will for ME, and not make it about others'... which was HARD.  But TCIE with a womb full of life?  She is a new woman, a new identity - no longer suffering at all the way so many of you amazing women are.

I do hope that newcomers, and even old timer readers of my blog will go back and visit the archives of TCIE(the search tool should pick up major keywords) when you are most in need of "someone who gets it."  Because, I did.  It was ugly at times (ok, a lot of times), it was beautiful at times, it was angry, depressed, pleading, insane, jealous, happy, silly, hopeful, inspiring, and all of those at once, at times.  Past tense emphasized.

Of course life isn't perfectly void of problems now that I'm with child.  In fact, there may be more problems all happening at once this year than any year before it.  But, things have been put in a perspective that I thank my infertility for every. single. day, now.  We are blessed.  We always were blessed.  But now, we also have been blessed as physical parents to an entirely separate new human being and soul.  And, unlike in our infertility/childlessness, we will always feel that blessing in our lives.

I pray for motherhood for each and every one of you who yearns for it.  And if you can think of anything, anything at all, that I can offer you beyond prayers, please do ask.


Endless Strength said...

What a beautiful post. Obviously, I cannot imagine how you are feeling, but I wondered and now you have written this to try and help with understanding. I appreciate this so much because I have never experienced IF, but I do try to understand what little I can as I try to support friends who do.

Anne B. said...

You are so right about the amnesia. I've found myself looking back at what amounted to at least a year of depression thinking, "what was my deal" and I have to stop and remind myself that I am not the me of then, so I cannot fairly judge how the me of then handled that cross.

LifeHopes said...

I think it is good you are honest on this blog (as you always have been!). And that you are enjoying every single second of this miracle. You are different, yes, but it is the infertility that makes you the amazing mother you (already) are. You will never ever forget those years of yearning, waiting, hoping, praying, even when times are tough, you will have a deep "knowing" of the gift. I am not saying those without infertility do not have that also, it just seems to be a very tangible result of the gift of infertility.

Nothing to offer? I think you ARE the offering, right now. The receiving of this gift with joy, that is your offering. That is what He is inviting you to offer, that is all. It feels so different, I know.

I just cannot wipe the smile off my face every time you come to mind.

Stacy said...

Beautifully transparent post - love it. So so very happy for you.

barbie said...

Love that pic!!!!!!

E said...

Just beautiful! So much here and you are gift to us. You restore hope. You are joyful. You understand and empathize with suffering. Please don't hide from your job. All those years you were suffering and enduring and giving. Keep on doing that and remember what a gift you are.

the misfit said...

Well, since my role is being obnoxious, let me just go with that, too :).

I think it would be appropriate for you to take some steps to conceal your pregnancy (while that is physically possible) from IF patients who are seeing you for the first time, at least. (I'm not suggesting, for a second, that you're wearing one of those t-shirts with a huge arrow or anything gross like that.) But would a tailored jacket or a scarf not be a reasonable option? I find they're pretty effective at concealing the "food baby," and I hear tell they work with a real one also (at least, for a time).

Of course, I agree that you have something to offer the community that you're now demographically part of. And I can understand how "amnesia" might well set in. I even find myself stupidly forgetting things that were once very poignant, not because I now have a baby (in utero or otherwise), but because, no longer TTC, I'm not living that day-to-day reality any more, and the sensitivity has dulled quite a bit. However - not being able to empathize is different from making someone else's cross heavier, even passively or neglectfully. (This has always been my greatest critique of the crossed-over crowd: if you feel different now, fine, but that doesn't excuse speaking or acting callously. If you can remember that you couldn't stand XYZ behavior - even if you have to read your own archives to remember - then charity demands you refrain from doing it to other people. And I don't mean you specifically, I mean all the former infertiles. I also have a particular offender in mind, as you may imagine.) If any of us can avoid that, in any area of life, I think it's our duty to avoid it.

(And apologies if you know this, or meant this, or even said it and I failed to understand it.)