Searching for "Bigger than babies"
I’m so happy to be here.
I’m going to start by saying that, even though the next thing I say will undoubtedly make someone believe that I’m contradicting it.
And that is, that for the past 24 weeks, I’ve had multiple battles of emotion where I found myself thinking:
“I’m supposed to be happier than this. Aren’t I?”
I know that it sounds like the most ungrateful and irresponsible thing I could possibly say, when finally reaching the position that I’ve been trying to reach for so many years. And I really struggled with writing it down at all, but I felt that it was important to stop hiding behind the pressure of being pregnant after infertility and be honest.
For the past few months, I have fought extremely hard with anxiety and fear. Pregnancy already comes with its own hormonal and emotional changes. I’ve read a lot of articles and we’ve all seen the commercials and movie scenes that show pregnant women crying over commercials and even happy songs. I was okay with that, and somewhat expected it, because I know it comes with the territory. Being pregnant after infertility, however, I believe comes with an added level of stress and trauma that weighs heavily on the heart and affects not only how I view myself as a pregnant woman, but how I feel about everything. These weren’t just pregnancy hormones, this was finding myself so scared and anxious all the time, that it started to feel paralyzing.
For the beginning of this new journey, I was in survival mode. Every day was another day of questions and worry, brought on because through all the years that I’ve been in the world of infertility, I’ve seen the elated highs of announcements, and also the devastating news when something has gone wrong.
I found myself wanting to be excited, but internally, painfully sad. Because I wanted this so very badly, and felt like “I’m no better than any of the amazing people who’ve gotten to this point and then had to say goodbye to their little one far too soon”, what makes me different? Feeling as though I didn’t deserve to be on the other side, I’d be praying for the best, while always emotionally preparing myself for the worst.
Before appointments, I would talk myself through what to do if there was no heartbeat this week. I’d plan out what to say to my office, or how I’ll tell the select few who already knew. I wanted to prepare myself to be strong, at what would be the most devastating moment of my life.
And I was doing so, because in a way, I’d lived through it before.
When we were planning to adopt, I’d never felt so close to being a parent. There was an actual, human baby that was being given to us. Even then, we were careful to only tell a select few, just as we have now. We were cautiously optimistic. To get all the way to the hospital, and to holding her, and to hearing this birth mother say out of her own mouth, “Oh, she’ll be just fine with you all”, I made the mistake of letting my guard down. Of getting excited. Of getting attached.
So when two days later it was all snatched away, I believe a part of me just wilted. Such an abrupt ending to such a slow and steady hope. I couldn’t go to work, and I couldn’t leave my room. I couldn’t be the same ignorant person I’d been before having it happen, and I couldn’t figure out who the informed person was going ot be on the other side of it.
And I NEVER want to be there again. Because I almost didn’t come out.
So while I knew full well the risks involved in IVF, and although I decided to do it anyway, I’ve been cautious and tentative every step of the way. My own doctor said I had a pleasant smile, but that it was clear that underneath it she could tell I was petrified and sad.
At times where I should have been bouncing off the walls with excitement and joy, I’d look at the ultrasound monitor and usually say out loud, “Thank God, there’s something still there!” And the nurses and the doctors always look at me like, “Of course, silly!” And then I just start the countdown to the next appointment, when I’ll probably be just as terrified.
My patient and caring husband has been dragged along in my issues as I kept us from announcing until a whopping 20 weeks, though I’d designed an announcement somewhere around week 8. I just couldn’t get the thought out of my head that if we were to once again get people’s hopes up, including our own, and then have to turn around and let everyone down again, I didn’t think I could handle it.
While listening to a podcast that I love, “The Friend Zone” I heard this statement:”Most of us are spending so much time fearing the loss of something, that we can’t even enjoy it.”
“Most of us are spending so much time fearing the loss of something, that we can’t even enjoy it.”
WOW. What a word. That’s exactly it.
I have felt extremely isolated in my anxiety out of guilt and shame. Guilt for feeling as though I should NEVER find myself anything but elated when so many of my friends are still fighting to get to this side. Ashamed that I was “allowing” the anxiety and worry to rob me of the experience I’d waited for, or that my emotional state would be harmful to this little life, which then made me feel even worse. Also, I worried that to tell these feelings would be offensive or hurtful to those who have followed me, or prayed for us, or who are at times seemingly more happy for us than I’ve been able to be for myself.
But, being in my head all of the time is the true culprit here. I can’t just put my head down and barrel through this like I once believed. I have to speak, because that’s my therapy. I decided to share these feelings because I’ve prided this blog, and really all of BBE on being honest. On saying those things that others may be thinking but may not feel they have the right or even the platform to say. This is no different.
Pregnancy depression and anxiety is a REAL thing. It actually affects about 6% of all pregnant women and is sometimes more common in women who have experienced infertility. After the emotional highs and lows of infertility, we’re so used to safeguarding ourselves from the worst, that we can sometimes have a hard time adjusting. Feelings of isolation and not fitting into the “naturally” pregnant world, or belonging in our infertility circles anymore can become overwhelming.
If you’re like me, and fighting off sadness, I want you to know you’re not alone. Your feelings are valid, no matter how off-putting they may be. They don’t take away from how amazing of a parent you’re going to be, or how wonderful of a parent you already are. Wherever you are on this journey, I’m rooting for you, and I’m praying for all of us!
I am so very grateful to God that I’m here now. That I’ve seen the heartbeat and heard it with my own ears. That something we’ve waited for so long, is finally within our own reach, just a few months away! Sometimes I’m so excited I could literally run down the street like a crazy person, because June can’t get here fast enough.
The feelings I’ve talked about here today, don’t take away from that. They don’t make me second guess my choice to take the crazy IVF ride, or to even be a parent at all. They remind me that I’m human, and that this whole thing is so much bigger than babies. That our emotional and psychological well-being is intimately tied to our ability to grow our families in the way that we choose.
And here’s a small treat, and the Christmas Gift my husband and I bought for ourselves the day after Christmas. We went to a commercial ultrasound facility for a gender check, AND they added the heartbeat to a stuffed animal for us. THANK YOU for sticking with us.
And as always, you can always talk to ME.
Last night I took off my smile, laid it on the nightstand and wept.
It wasn’t one of those heaving chest numbers, or the famed “ugly cry”, but rather a long, hot, steam-filled weep, where my eyes literally overflowed, and my nose erupted, and my heart jumped a little harder in my chest.
I wept for Endiah Martin.
I wept for Lenore Draper.
I wept for my city.
I wept for my family.
I wept for my dreams.
I wept because I can’t fathom a life for my children in this place where life is so undervalued presently.
I wept for how much these youth have to endure just to get through life right now.
I wept for all the children who will be overcomers of their childhoods and not beneficiaries of it.
I wept for all the parent-minded people, who may never be parents.
I wept for the idea that time is beating me over the head.
I wept for the idea of money being a barrier to my life goals.
I wept for peace of mind that I long for.
I wept for clarity of spirit.
I wept for courage that I feel distant from.
I wept from exhaustion.
Most of all, I wept because I had no idea what else to do.
I often tell people that infertility is bigger than babies.
I wish they would believe me.
Infertility affects who you believe yourself to be. It chips away at confidence, and perseverance, and fight. It is an emotional autoimmunity, forcing one to battle with their own very being. It amplifies every hurdle, and every pain, and every sweetness, and in its wake, you have to force yourself to continue to be YOU, when it has altered everything you thought YOU were. Everything that I believed about myself has been called into question as I walk through this.
But I’ve said all this before. So why am I sharing it right now?
Quite simply, because someone needs to hear it.
Someone needs to know that crying themselves to sleep last night wasn’t weakness, or immaturity, but a release. That these irrational feelings that come at us so quickly and desperately, are not for us to shove way down into ourselves, but to allow.
You have the RIGHT, to be heartbroken. You have the RIGHT, to be afraid. You have the RIGHT, to question everything and accept nothing about this. You have the right to feel.
So many times we attempt to push down the fact that we are overwhelmed and distraught, as though ignoring it means that it isn’t happening. This is damaging. You can ignore your brakes screeching for so long, but eventually they will go out. You have to take care of yourself.
You matter, and your heartbreak is not in vain. When you add infertility on top of every other thing that is going on around us, it is a lot to digest. You owe it to yourself to be honest about where you are, and take the time to address it.
I wish you all the support and love in the world, and then some.
Featured image courtesy of Master isolated images/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I called a counseling center this week.
As many times as I’ve told myself to call, or to look into it, or to move forward with it, this time I wouldn’t let myself back out. I need someone to talk to. Someone who isn’t my friend, or my mom, or my spouse. They’ve heard all my gripes before, and they can apply a temporary salve, but they can’t help me “do my work”, as Iyanla would say. They can’t help me unfold and unwrap all the things I’ve bound inside of myself.
The last time I got the courage up to call a therapist, was about a year ago. I had browsed and studied GoodTherapy.org for about a month before finally deciding on someone with a pleasant enough face, and a close enough location. When I finally got her on the phone, she said that she’d recently moved to Atlanta, and that she had a therapist she trusted back here, who I could call.
I decided that was a sign that I didn’t need a therapist. I mean obviously, if I’d done all that research, and the lady wasn’t even here anymore…
So I went back to business as usual.
And just what is business as usual for me?
Well, I work a lot.
I don’t think you understand.
From the minute I open my eyes in the morning, I immediately find a project to complete. I start in on whatever I can get done before leaving for work, and then once I’m there, I boot up whatever I was working on the day before, plus a few extra things I’ve just thought up, and then I’m mentally booked until around 3pm, when we start getting kids in the library, and wouldn’t you know it, that’s when it’s time for programs and meetings.
By the time I make it home, I try to continue whatever items I didn’t finish at work. If there’s nothing left to really do, I throw myself into a video game, Netflix binge, or Pinterest session(yes, session. My pinning is the stuff of legend. LOL).
I usually do these things until I’m too tired to stay awake. Most nights, I get about four hours of actual sleep because I have a hard time closing my eyes and shutting my brain off at the end of the day. After practically wringing it out like a rag all day, my mind rattles with everything from world peace, to job and sorority tasks, to what kind of schools I want my future children to attend.
And it does not stop or pause.
And when I wake up from that four hours, I start it all over again.
Because if I stop, for one second, I will completely fall apart.
The million tasks I do every day, are my coping mechanism. They distract me from the things that frighten me, and frustrate me, and utterly devastate me. I use them to invent things for myself to hope for, because I’ve lost all ability to do so without them. If I don’t have an event planned for next Saturday at 2pm, I’m not confident that there will be a Saturday.
Half of my day, every day, is looking at other people and wondering how they are so calm. I wonder how they are able to get up and go to work, or meetings, and smile, and have ideas, and just not seem to worry as much as I know that I do. My fears and anxiety levels get so high, that I can barely complete simple tasks.
February of 2013 was hard for me. I was severely depressed. Frustrated with not only my body, but this world in general. Then there was a short glimmer of hope as we planned to adopt, but then that went very sour, very quickly. And while having that little girl in my home for the following six months was special, and healing in many ways, it was also a horribly devastating experience. One that I suppressed into myself.
I am a person who suppresses my own grief. This is a symptom of depression.
I did not allow myself to grieve. I did not have time or interest in it. I just went back to work. With all my disappointment, and all my fear, and a double portion of my anxieties tucked into my tote bag.
I was, and still am, disappointed that for all my positive thinking, things still failed. I am constantly fearful that things may never work. I worry that I’ll continue to plan and hope and have the door closed on me year after year. I am always anxious that I will run out of time.
A year later, February is grueling in my heart. I’m uncomfortable, and sad, and just all around off of my game right now. Most days, I’m literally petrified. I’m tired of it. And more importantly, I’m tired of living in the dark about it.
Infertility is a quiet force within the African American community, and so is depression and mental wellness. Culturally, we are conditioned to internalize, suppress, and work through our feelings on our own. We are taught to keep “inside business, inside”, and to never let others know what we’re going through. Those things we know require outside help, are usually directed to our spiritual leaders, and not to medical healers.
I had a hard time writing this post.
Because I hate to be soooo depressing. Ugh. I HATE IT.
I really don’t like talking about the sadness, and the fear, and the emotional voids that have come into my life. I especially hate that I feel as though I’ve allowed them to. I am angry at myself for not being strong enough to not feel this way, and that too, is something those of us who suppress, do.
Instead of reaching out for help, I tell myself:
“You should pray more.”
“You’re being weak.”
“You just need to write it out or talk it out.”
“If you have time to sit here and mope, you aren’t working enough.”
And once I’ve done such a great job of thinking myself out of moving forward,…the feelings pass for a short while. Then, like I know they will, they always come right back.
Infertility, is bigger than babies. I tell people this all the time, and I doubt they really hear me. It is SO much bigger than bellies and bumps.
Infertility is trauma. Every part of this journey has its own scars and sounds, and memories that for many of us will never ever go away. They haunt us, and hurt us, and cause us to drastically change from whoever we were or at the very least thought we were.
Infertility hurts so far beyond the baby. It’s about my marriage, my friendships and my ability to picture a future. It’s about my body, and whether everything I’ve been told about personal power is true. Source
Because we want to be parents, and because we want to be the type of parents we always dreamed we’d be, we suppress the parts of us that are sad, or angry, or frightened. We wrap those feelings up, and we pack them away, so that we can plant a smile on our faces and keep going. But you cannot build a strong new house on a bad foundation.
I’m trying to walk into 2014 with more hope and faith than I had last year. I want nothing in my way. So I am going to do my best to rebuild my foundation.
Are you suffering from depression? Are you suppressing the emotional toll that infertility has taken on your life? You do not have to fight alone. You do not have to be alone. Here are a few resources that will help make sure you aren’t.
Coping With Infertility and Depression
GoodTherapy.Org Fertility Resource List
Resolve: Mental Health Resources
Infertility and Depression 101
#DayOfLight Info and Resources
- The #DayOfLight Campaign is the brainchild of blogger Brandi of MamaKnowsItAll
- Visit my good friend Natasha’s blog for the post that inspired me to participate here.
Would you like to participate?
- If you are a blogger, write a blog post sharing your personal experience of depression and/or share resources to help others. Add the #DayOfLight hashtag in your post title. (If you don’t have a blog, but want to speak about infertility and depression, please send your thoughts to The Egg and I will post them anonymously for you.)
- Watch the #DayOfLight Google Hangout on Wednesday, February 5th at 11 AM EST. Tweet and ask questions. (http://bit.ly/1ilifbP)
- Participate in the #DayOfLight twitter chat on Wednesday, February 5th at 9 PM EST (follow@PushingLovely, @NotoriousSpinks, and @BrandiJeter for more information)
- Turn your social media avatars black and white on Wednesday, February 5th so we can visually represent all of those affected by depression.
- Share inspiring tweets, posts, and photos on social media to encourage those who are suffering with depression to let them know that they are not alone. Use the hashtag #DayOfLight.
Disclaimer: My dearest pregnant, and post-pregnant readers and friends, I love you. I love your children. I would like to take this moment pre-rant to say that I know pregnant people have their own issues. That your having a difficult pregnancy should not be slighted by my or anyone else’s infertility. I understand completely that your blues ain’t like mine. Things that WE infertiles do, probably piss you off a bit as well….and I sincerely hope you have a blog where you can rant to high heaven about it…because I DO, and I plan to do so. If you’re in the touchy, easily-offended stages of your life, I hope that you take this time to close your browser and scram. This won’t be for you. If you are, however, the kind of chick that can handle good-humored rants and raves, then by all means stay, maybe you’ll see something that annoys you too.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’ve been sitting on this one for a few weeks now. Well, that’s a lie. I’ve been sitting on this one for a few years.
I’ve rested quietly on my frustrations, primarily for the sake of not causing a rift between myself and the preggos that are driving me insane. Annoyances aside, I love them, and I know they sometimes can’t help how “drive-a-nail-into-my-eye” bothersome they become. But then I reminded myself that one of the ways this blog reaches so many is by my saying the things you(readers) WANT to say. LOL So it would be downright cruel for me to not rant on you all’s behalf! I opened the floor for Eggshells to send me their most annoying things about pregnant people, and I gotta say….I love you guys. You’re HILARIOUS, and all of your mentions are included in this post!
To be fair, I don’t know that pregnant women understand the work that goes into trying to be genuinely happy for them sometimes. On the surface, sure, who wouldn’t be happy for their best girlfriend or sister bringing a new life into this world!? We stifle all our initial sadness and focus in on the beauty of it all. Instead of being disappointed about ourselves, for once, we do our best to put on a happy face and think about the bigger picture. Then they go and %$& it up by being jerks about the whole thing.
1.IF I CAN INJECT A NEEDLE INTO MY OWN A$$, YOU CAN LIFT THAT PEN!
The last thing a woman who spends her evenings ramming sharps into the side of her gluteus maximus wants to hear come out of a pregnant woman’s mouth is how she just can’t function now that she’s 72 hours pregnant. The woman who’s had her second hysterosalpingogram is NOT at ALL interested in your back pain, when you’re all of six weeks along. She’s really thinking, “Go flog yourself, whiny heffa! If I can take gushing liquid into my fallopians, you can handle back spasms.” Now this is not to say that once she gets pregnant herself that she won’t feel you on some level, but trust me when I tell you that she could give a hell less when her whole body feels like a pin cushion and you’re floating glowingly into your FIRST trimester. She is taking one for the team every single day, dealing with just as many hormonal bounces as you, and with nothing to show for it. I’d advise you to shut it before she throws a box of Gonal-F at your head.
2. YOU ARE NOT A CELEBRITY, SECRET SQUIRREL!
Celebrities hold off on sharing bits of their relationships and pregnancies because they already share so much of themselves with the world. They deserve to keep a little of it to themselves for as long as they can. They wait until they can’t wait any longer to reveal parts of their lives to us. I get that. YOU, however, are Loquitta from 75th street…NOT Beyonce. You share yourself willingly on every social media site known to man. So when you get knocked up and post phantom ultrasound pictures in your profile, of course people will want to know what you’re having and if IT has a name! Why the hell are you brow-beating us with your secrecy? To YOU, it may not seem like a big deal. Perhaps there’s a warped sense of modesty in your “No, we’re not pregnant. NO, the secret baby in here does not have a name, PLEASE stop asking us!” However to US, it just feels like you’re holding a gift box out in our faces and saying “Nah Naahny Nah Nah, It’s my Secret Box of Goodies and you better not ask about it“. At the point where you start withholding information for kicks and giggles, you lose us. We no longer want to know a damn thing about YOU, your pregnancy, or your squirmy secret spawn. Keep ALL your crap to yourself if you wanna act like that. Don’t facebook an ultrasound, don’t mention your morning sickness, don’t post a weekly bump shot, and don’t use passive-aggressive wit to let us know how angry you are with the next person who asks you a stupid question like, oh I don’t know, “do you know what you’re having and does it have a name”?
3. I’M ASKING FOR COMMON RESPECT, NOT SEGREGATION
So the cat is out of the family bag about my infertility. For whatever reason, the whole gang knows that my procreation plans are shaky. A bit of care with what you say to and around me is appreciated. Hiding entire new pregnancies from me, not so much. I understand that in your head, the thought of having to use tact and decorum when informing me of your new baby was hard, I mean who could ask for crazy things like those? So instead you decided to completely distance yourself from me until the shower invitations were out? What the smelly hell? You think my having to go to Babies R Us and decipher your registry is going to be easier because I didn’t know about it until your third trimester? FAIL. The simplest thing in the world would have have been to just tell me. Tiptoeing around me is a cop-out. It doesn’t make me feel any less frustrated to come to family gatherings and find that everyone knew about your news but me. The largest hurdle in my life is feeling normal, so thanks for finding yet another way to make me feel less than.
4. JUST BECAUSE YOU USED TO BE ON THIS TEAM, DOESN’T GIVE YOU THE RIGHT TO SAY WHATEVER FOOLISHNESS BUBBLES TO YOUR LIPS
You know, if anything, I would hope that the persons most understanding of what not to say to infertile folk would be those who have graduated from our club. I mean, truth be told, you never fully do graduate. If you’ve survived a miscarriage once, I’m sure you go into all pregnancies with that extra bit of concern. If you worked hard to get knocked up this first time, I’m sure you have your worries about a “next” time. Yet some of our “graduates” find some of the worst ways to offend! I’m not sure if its because you believe that you’ve been where we are, or if pregnancy brain has gotten the better of you, but saying crap like, “Well, I’ve gotten pregnant, now it’s your turn” or “Well I bet now that you’ve adopted, you’re sure to get pregnant now just like I did”, makes me want to assassinate you. Did I miss the memo? Did the old stork die and you took over his post? Is that what the holdup was this whole time? Your womb is the fountain of life now? Kick rocks, jerk.
5. OH, WE CAN BE BITCHES NOW? I DIDN’T KNOW! LET ME GO GET MY COSTUME!
Considering the fact that I’ve received some of the most heart-wrenching news in my life during these few YEARS of infertility, I’m sure I would have just loved knowing that it gave me the right to be a bitter a$$hole. I mean, you’ve only been pregnant for about six days and you’ve already picked up more than your fair share of bishitude. Had I known that reproduction was warrant for talking to people any kind of way, I wouldn’t have worked so hard to hold it together. I mean here I was letting silly comments roll off my back and all the while I could have been telling people off just like you! Who knew!? I’m sorry but the grapefruit in your belly is no excuse for you treating everyone around you like they’re incompetent and annoying.
6. WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, ASK.
If you are a pregnant reader of the Egg, this is my greatest advice. Ask us if we’re okay with being involved in situations where we will be the ONLY never-been-pregnant person in the room. ASK us if we’re comfortable with your making suggestions about what we should do to get where you are. ASK us how OUR IVF cycle is going, or how we feel sometimes. Just that small bit of concern, can change half of these rants into water under the bridge.
At the end of the day, it is hard to be happy sometimes. As much as we want to be okay, it is truly difficult. Many of the things that annoy us, overlap with the things we don’t mind so much. Basically, the entire thing is confusing, even to us. This post is not meant to “change” anyone, or to demand anything. For all we know, those of us who contributed to this post could all get pregnant eventually and be JUST as aggravating for someone else. But today, is not that day. And today, we just had to get it out.
Got anymore preggo pet peeves? Rant away in the comments!
Infertility Today…and Every Day
The most important thing for infertility right now, is putting a face on it. Which ipso-facto, makes advocacy the most important thing for infertility right now. However, as I’m sure you will learn as you step out of the gate, importance does nothing to diminish difficulty.
I’ve struggled with churning out a couple of blog posts this week. Primarily because I’m fighting from two sides of this coin. The advocate in me wishes to press thrrough it all and keep fighting for others to “get it”. I want for people to keep having those “Oh…I didn’t…I didn’t know,” moments because they change the world. Those moments create the change we need in this community.
But the hardest thing about advocacy is knowing that underneath all of your fighting and pushing for others…you still have your own heart to contend with. It still yearns for you to pay attention to it, and create change internally. Your own desires can get increasingly jealous of the attention you are giving to the rest of the world. I fight with that.
So what do I do?
I try to remind myself that the bigger issue is more important than my personal battle, and on the days where it just isn’t, I take a break.
I am in a constant fight with who I am, and who this condition has tried to make me.
I believe myself to be capable of anything, yet this one thing has proven to be something I can’t do.
I am powerful and bold, and smart.
This thing, however, this STUPID thing has tried to make me feel less than so.
I am beautiful…I’m sure of it.
Yet this thing makes me feel unattractive and unnecessary.
And I can’t seem to shake that sometimes.
Infertility has robbed me of my ability to plan my life. It has taken away my right to decide when and how I’d like to start my family. It has stolen years from me, and caused me to lose track of my goals and the order in which I wanted them completed. It has taken away my right to feel “normal”. My modesty, dignity, privacy…all stolen. And no matter how much I rationalize it and remind myself that I’m being proactive rather than speculated…it still feels like I’ve been robbed.
Who do you call when your dignity is stolen? Where do you report missing You-ness?
There are so many parts of this fight that have nothing to do with babies at all. This is why I find it astounding that there aren’t more people ready to rally around the fact that infertility is an emotional and psychological issue as well as a physical one. There are so many thoughts and ideas that seem to care less about my everyday life. In many ways, infertility in the body leads to a feeling of impotence in other areas. There are some days where giving birth to a complete sentence is more draining than I remembered. Days where I can barely keep my thoughts in order, let alone cycles. And those days lead to doubt.
I doubt that I’m intelligent enough to understand these terms and medical phrases that are a part of life now.
I doubt that I have the willpower to embark on food and fitness choices that will help.
I doubt that any of this is doing more than opening myself up to more wounds and opportunities for words to attack me.
I doubt I have the ability to be anyone’s friend, not to mention, wife or mother.
Remaining steadfast when all you want to do is crawl inside yourself and wilt, is the underbelly to this entire beast. These plagues of inadequacies and trips into our own minds are to be expected. These feelings are common, I’m learning. But I promise not to give in to them,…if you won’t.
So, my husband and I have tiptoed through “the talk”. The adoption/fostering/childless by choice talk that most reproductively challenged families eventually gauge during their journey. I didn’t want to have the talk. Seriously. I have always wanted to give a home to a child in foster care or in need of adoption, since I was very young, like 3rd grade young. Growing up, on my grandmother’s block there was a family at the end of the street who ALWAYS had foster children(and still do). I was about eight when I started befriending the girls down the block. They were sweet but sad girls who seemed to revel in the attention and basic notice that adults gave them when visiting my house. On my few visits down to their home, I could see why. They were yelled at, hit by older foster-siblings, and just talked to badly. I told myself, right then, that one day, if I had a home, I would get kids who needed someone to take care of them. Never had a second thought about it. And still don’t.
There is that small pang that I wish I had “my own” first. Saying it out loud, it sounds ridiculous. But I can’t help the way that I feel. I would love to see my husband’s eyes or my smile on someone sent just for us. Something in me is sad that an adopted child wouldn’t have parts of my personality or features.
But then there’s another pang that hits. Maybe this isn’t about me.
Who am I to put my feelings and perhaps selfish desires over what some child may need? Who am I to decide that I can put limits on God’s plans? The thoughts brought to mind the story of my aunt and cousin.
My first cousin passed away two years ago this June from renal failure. For years, she battled trouble with her kidneys. Despite this, she chose to have two baby boys. Finding a kidney donor was a hard thing to do for a while, but a few years ago, she got a kidney transplant. It was a success for a couple of years, but then it began to fail, and she was only working with one. The summer before she passed away, they told her that it wasn’t doing too great and checked her into the hospice. They told my aunt that she could go at anytime. My family members traveled back and forth from Chicago to Minnesota to see her and her boys. How she survived so long was totally God’s will and choice.
I was saddened because she was my cousin, the first to give me a Barbie doll, the first to play with me when I visited my father’s side of the family ALL THE TIME. She was my blood, my big cousin. But what hurt most, was finding out that while my little fight with ttc was tearing me up, my cousin and her mother, my aunt , knew more about ttc than I ever will.
You see, my aunt tried numerous times to have a baby and miscarried every time. She would get so depressed and sad that she would have nightmares. She finally gave up trying and adopted a daughter. Well, a couple years later, she got pregnant again, and she carried that baby to full term, my cousin.
And that cousin, to have struggled with her kidneys and still fought to give those babies life. She would at times get so upset about her life and her struggle that she would talk about killing herself to stop playing the waiting game, but for those boys she lived.
My little bout with ttc may be fixable, I don’t know, but these two strong women in my life gave everything for the love of a child, and they have inspired me immensely.
Had my aunt never gone the route of adoption, I wouldn’t know the awesome, supportive cousin she brought into our lives. And with my other cousin passing away, it has been that adopted daughter who has become our rock. And without any of this, we wouldn’t have those two amazing boys, now would we?
This thing could be so much bigger than me….
I’m going to have to pray more and see just who this battle is about. Or at least what position I’m to play in it.