Category Archives: babylust

hope is a terrible thing

I heard this piece yesterday on NPR and the following lines hit me in a very deep way:

“Living in hope is a really terrible thing.  People speak about hope most of the time as a very positive thing, and I understand why…But if you stop and think about the state of living in hope,  it’s a very dispossessing thing, it’s a very difficult thing to live with. When you’ve been living in hope for a long time as I have, suddenly you realize that certainty is far more desirable than hope.”

Of course, I thought about my people in the ALI community.  And I thought about myself back when the ex and I were actively trying for a baby, back when that felt so possible I could think of little else, when my arms felt so empty, partly because it felt possible, yet just out of reach.

Hope gives us reason to get up in the morning, but it is also that Terrible Gray, that not-black-not-white space that won’t allow you to let go of the dream.  You’re left in the hospital waiting room indefinitely, never knowing, just hoping.

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in the woods

Today my younger sister gave birth to her fourth daughter.  Yes, you read that right, girl number four.  (I posted about this last summer when I first learned of her pregnancy.)

I had complicated feelings about it back then, and though I’m excited and happy, there’s still a twinge of something there.

My sister and her husband have, if not more money than G-d, then they’re at least in the ballpark.  Partly because of this, I was at a loss about a gift for this new arrival.  In addition, as this one is the fourth girl, they have everything they need, and really don’t want very much more “stuff.”  I decided to do a cross stitch project (this is the crafty project I had mentioned before) to welcome my new niece, as the value isn’t really in the price-tag, and it’s not something they have already.  Now, as I decided to start on it rather late in the game (sometime last month, ahem), it’s not finished yet, and I’ve been spending every spare moment working on it.  This is what I’ve got so far:(The baby’s name and birth date are to go in the big blank spot above the bear.  Here’s what it should look like, more or less.)  In the middle of working on this I learned of Wiseguy’s loss.  The thought has kept returning to me throughout this project—what if the baby dies?  What do I do with all this stitching if something goes wrong?

Some would call this morbid.  The thought wouldn’t even occur to others.  Thanks to my own fertility struggles and to getting to know so many in the ALI world, I no longer take it for granted that pregnancies happen easily, that they all progress without incident, and that all babies who are born survive.

This does two things to me.  I stand in wonder sometimes that people get pregnant and have babies and nothing goes wrong.  I also stand in judgment, a bit, of those who still live in the world where nothing ever goes wrong, and the thought never occurs to them (at least it seems to me) that anything ever could.  I’m not especially proud of that last one, and I don’t feel it all the time, but it’s definitely there.

The main thing that all that knowledge leaves me with is a sense that we’re never quite out of the woods.  And, of course, we’re not.  Miscarriages happen, and babies die, and children die, and adults die and all of us get hurt and sick, some much worse than others.  It is a dangerous and unjust world we live in, but it is also a world of beauty and hope and love.

I am not proud of the part of me that gets haughty and self-righteous in the face of others’ blessings.  At the same time, I don’t want to live in that world where I am in ignorant bliss of others’ pain and loss.  What I want is to take this feeling of fragility and lead it in the direction of appreciation and thankfulness rather than anger and judgment.

wondering

(ICLW intro is down below—welcome to my rambling place.)

Something interesting about last week (other than Mr. X getting married and my sister’s worsening mental health, that is)—pregnancies.  No, not me, as if you even had to ask.

  • Sunday I saw my younger sister (not the one with worsening mental health), and she announced to me and my parents that she is now 5 weeks pregnant with her fourth.  She told us that she was waiting to tell her daughters (ages 6, 4, and 1½), but apparently “waiting” meant “I’m telling them tonight,” because everyone knew by that evening.
  • Monday, I learned that my oldest friend (and one of my dearest) had a miscarriage.  She has two living children, no other miscarriages.  She was 12 weeks.
  • Tuesday, I learned on F-book that an acquaintance from grad school is pregnant with her third.  Her first was conceived via IVF, second was a shock to them and their doctors (and conceived while they were working toward an adoption), third was another shock to them, and conceived while they were parenting their two biological children and three foster-possibly -to-adopt kids.

I’ve been trying to write about this for a week, and have just come to the conclusion that I don’t have any great conclusions.

I just wonder…I wonder how my feelings about each of these situations would be different had I never experienced infertility.

Would I still feel like a failure when considering my sister’s fourth pregnancy in the face of my…nothing?  Would I be so judgmental about her telling her young children about her pregnancy so early?

Had I not spent so much time in the ALI blogosphere would I have said something really stupid to my friend when I found out about her miscarriage?

What meanings would I attach to my acquaintance’s pregnancy?  (Likely something along the lines of “see—just adopt and you’ll get pregnant!”)  I never went through IVF, we just got to the planning stages of that one, but I’m probably more familiar with it than the average person—what would I have thought about IVF had things gone differently for me?

I don’t have many any answers tonight…I’m just wondering.

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P.S. If you can, stop by and give Jo some love.  For her, I’m just feeling incredibly sad.

pretending

I just said goodbye to my niece, the oldest.  She’s twelve and the two of us have a pretty special relationship.  When she was little, she was just as close with her other aunt, my sister, but she now has kids of her own and a lot less time to play the doting aunt.

So the niece, who can be a bit of a Whirlwind (ADHD will do that), spent the night last night and we had a great time.

I realized, at some point, that when we’re together alone, I imagine what my life would be like if things were different, if she were my kid, not my niece.  And I ache a bit for that imaginary life, both for me and for her, as her needs fall through the cracks quite a bit in the real world.

At the same time, I know that raising a child is not the same as borrowing one for the weekend, and that with all my notions of how I could parent her better, I also know that there’s no way to know that—it is possible I could mess up way more than has been done so far in her life.

But Miss Famous and I sure loved having her around.

dream deferred

(ICLW stuff is in the previous post, or here.  Welcome!)

This is take three of this blog post.

I got back a couple of hours ago from a stressful afternoon at my parents’ house, and apparently am unable to be very eloquent about it.  (Everyone is fine, just chaotic and stressed, and there’s some extended family stuff, and plenty of babylust triggers for me.)  I trashed a couple of posts that I just stopped writing after a few paragraphs due to hating every word I wrote.

What I was trying to say is something about being a mom…right now there are few things that feel farther away, and few things that I want more.

At the same time, I greatly appreciate the freedom I have to just be a mess, to take this time to let myself heal from the awful divorce and even more awful marriage.  I appreciate the privilege of being able to focus on myself and no one else, to not have to take care of someone else when I don’t have the emotional energy to do so, and  to work on healing my stuff that got me into that marriage to begin with.  If I had a child now, well, that wouldn’t happen, or it would happen very poorly, and the result would be not the kind of parenting I hope to be able to do someday.

But that someday feels awfully far away sometimes.

to be honest…

I’ve kind of gotten sucked into watching a certain high-octane, high adrenaline show.  I watch it via streaming on Net.flix, which means that there’s ALWAYS another episode ready to watch.  This is not necessarily a good thing for my productivity, and it probably explains, at least in part, why posting has been so darn light.

And it’s a way for me to not be in my head, or maybe, be in my head and not in my body, to not be present.  Though, goodness knows I know no shortage of ways to avoid being present.  This is just one I can point to and name.

And, yes, Kristin, there is eye candy.

In other news, apparently Mother’s day was affecting me more than I thought.  I think I was just feeling an undercurrent of discontent about the whole day that mostly stayed below the surface.  Last night in group, however, I let out a rant about how I felt about the “holiday.”  (To be fair, we were in a conversation about how the day was for people, and I was not the only one displeased with Mother’s day in general.  Ahem.)  This piece by Anne Lamott (which Lavender Luz turned me on to) articulates my feelings about the topic much better than I ever could:

But Mother’s Day celebrates a huge lie about the value of women: that mothers are superior beings, that they have done more with their lives and chosen a more difficult path…I hate the way the holiday makes all non-mothers, and the daughters of dead mothers, and the mothers of dead or severely damaged children, feel the deepest kind of grief and failure.

Oddly enough, despite all that, I actually had a decent day on Sunday with my family.  I think it was more the constant reminders (F-book, commercials, etc. ad nauseum) coming from other places that connected with that place inside me that feels like a failure for not being a mother, and just served to highlight that feeling.

Of course, my conscious self doesn’t believe that I’m a failure.  It’s that pesky place inside that is so hard to reach, and yet so persistent that believes this (among other also problematic things).  Pulling these thoughts and feelings into consciousness is no work for cowards, however.

Which may be why I’ve been watching so much Prison Break.

rewriting my dictionary

Last week I posted about the deep-reaching nature of my healing process.  In that post I explained how perhaps the most difficult task for me is self-acceptance.

At the root of this struggle are some very rigid ideas about what it means to be successful, to be happy, to be good.

I first realized what my ideas about success and my beliefs about what a “good” life looks like were back when I was married to Mr. X and we were in the midst of dealing with infertility.  Suddenly, I realized that not only had I always thought I would be a mother, and not only that I had always thought that I should be a mother, but also that I must be a mother in order to have a meaning in my life.  It’s pretty heavy stuff to face the idea that you may never realize the path you thought was necessary for a meaningful life.

I don’t know how much I was actually able to challenge this belief of mine before the Great Escape and subsequent months of agony leading up to my divorce.  I do know that I realized somewhere in those months that I also had very harsh ideas about what it means to be divorced, and even what it means to be single past a certain age.  Ouch.  There is nothing more painful than being the object of your own rejection.

I don’t want to believe that I think a good life requires a (happy) marriage with children.  I don’t want to believe that being childless and divorced makes me somewhat pathetic.  I am becoming more and more aware all the time of the system of beliefs that under-girds much of my pain and want so badly to start over, to rewrite my dictionary of ideas, to release all that no longer serves me.*

I have a very difficult system set up for myself.  It’s a no-win way of living, and I’m tired of it.  It’s taken going through this last year (or thirty) of loss and angst to become cognizant of how much of my pain radiates from within, from my own worldview, and not from my circumstances.

More and more I am hopeful that I can change that worldview, that I can rewrite my internal dictionary, that I can learn a new way of being in the world.  It’s hard, but not as hard as not changing would be.

*Thanks to Lavender Luz for this phrasing.