Posts Tagged ‘NIAW’

Opening the Door On…the Secret Closets of Infertility

the secret closetsFor the record, I never really talk to people about my hall closet.  For all of my advocacy, and as much as I’m open about infertility and what it has meant in my life, I very rarely have told people about the things behind that door.

There’s a baby bathtub resting along the inner right wall, with washcloths and a temperature duckie that sit lonely inside of its hollow belly.  Blankets with nothing to wrap themselves around lie still and unbothered on the lower bottom shelf.  A picture book gift from a friend is kept in it’s original mailer rather than being added it to my bookshelf and sits in a closet organizer where there are also infant clothes with tags hanging from their sleeves and a first Easter dress that was worn once and still smells of baby lotion.  Sitting silent on the top shelf, collecting dust and grime as the days go by, are toys that have never been opened.

Sitting at my dining room table, just underneath a chair is a bumbo chair from a friend that I never touch. It’s blended in so well at this point that I often forget it’s there.  Kind of like the carseat that sat in the corner for months until we finally got the courage to toss it out. Or the bag of newborn caps that is in the trunk of the car.

Ever so often, I will come across a barrette or headband that slipped through the cracks and just so happened to turn up on an especially hard day.  There are also times where I run into that old box of baby bottles that I can’t bring myself to throw away, or a plastic case that used to hold baby wipes that I’ve had to re-appropriate.

The thing about my closet, and my hall, and my bottom drawer, is that they aren’t unique. There are thousands of other closets and drawers and trunks with hidden pockets of delayed hope.  So many other people have walked past one onesie too many in a store and decided, “No, I’m gonna buy this in good faith.”  Others still have walked down the road towards adoption, and prepared their homes and closets only to be left with the remnants of a dream that fell through their fingertips.

For over 200 days, my husband and I were foster parents to a child who was originally supposed to be our adopted daughter.  We cared for her and loved her and encased our life around her in the hopes that fate would see our dedication and reward us.

Those MOMENTS.
They were mine, but not mine.
It was like holding our breath every.single.day.

I remember one night at my husband’s job, where I watched a couple pull up in their Mercedes truck. They came to the desk and gave him their keys making small talk about how  “The Bulls Game is over, so we’re gonna go pick up the baby”. And my husband and I laughed at the fact that they were giving him that much information.

30 minutes later, they come back down, he carrying the baby carrier, and she carrying the bag while chatting on the phone. And they took their baby, and got into their Mercedes, and drove away to their life. Which may not be perfect.  But had so much that I wanted in just that scene.

I wanted so badly to leave work, and pick up my husband, and pick up MY child, and go on with MY life.  That’s what I WANT.

Instead, I’d drive to my husband, and we’d worry, and we’d plan, and we’d ponder…then we’d go and pick up someone else’s baby, and drive to our apartment, and we’d eat junk, and we’d worry more.

And I’d get so TIRED of it.  Of those moments that didn’t really belong to me.
Of that little girl. Of singing to her, and taking my time with her, and loving her.
For it to not be mine.  For me to have to turn her over to someone who didn’t care enough about her to not give her drugs before her first breath.
Seemed like some bullshit to me. And I tried consistently to have grace under pressure.
But it’s still some fucking bullshit.

People so often ask those with infertility why they won’t “just adopt”.  They assume that all we want is a baby.  And that since there are “sooo many” babies just waiting around for someone to save them, it’s a win-win for us both.  And they don’t mean any harm for the most part.  They see what could be a means to an end, I guess.

And in that means to an end, they don’t see what happens when it doesn’t work.  When you’re holding your breath in the hospital and trying not to get too excited.  They don’t see you standing in the hallway of the birthmother’s room, hoping that her visitors aren’t telling her to change her mind.  They have no idea how tumultuous it is in your heart when you’re trying to show love to a newborn, and show their birthparents that they haven’t made a bad decision, while not overstepping any invisible boundaries.  Or how confusing it is to answer the hospital staff about just who it is you are.

When people tell you to adopt, they don’t know about the feelings of inadequacy when that child is crying, and you aren’t sure if it’s because they know you aren’t their “real” mom.  Or how many times you’re left speechless when trying to figure out how to answer medical questions, or fill out paperwork.

They have no idea how fast and intense your very being can plummet when a birthparent tells you that they have decided to parent.  Or the fury and sadness that intermingle when they don’t even say it to you directly, but avoid you or simply block you from the hospital room, when just hours, days, months ago they were calling you their new best friend and thanking you for being there.  There is no way to understand until you’ve been there that not only is it very easy to love a child whom you did not give birth to, but that when the prospect of being that child’s parent is snatched away, it feels as though your own has died.

And like others who have loved and lost, we mourn.  And like so many others who mourn, we hoard those small reminders.  Clothes and blankets, and toys, and dreams.  Sitting on our shelves, stuffed into our closets, and unforgotten in our hearts.

You are not alone.

My closet is full too.

 

Did I Ask You All That? Opening the Door On: Infertility and Advice

Opening The Door On - Infertility and Advice

We’ve all heard our fair share of what goes for “advice” these days.  Everything from “Are you sure you’re infertile?  Did a doctor tell you that, or are you listening to too many people on the tv?” to “Maybe you’re doing it wrong”, we’ve heard them all.  Today’s #NIAW post is a tongue-in-cheek look behind the door of one of the most dreaded by-products of infertility; Advice.


Girl look, I appreciate your support.  You seem really committed to helping me “get over this whole infertility thing” as quickly as you can make me, and I appreciate your go-get-em attitude about it all.  But here’s the thing, I didn’t really ask you for all that you’re trying to give me.  I can appreciate the fact that the earth goddess and the moonlight came together for the bark that you put into your tea that led to  your ovaries singing songs and welcoming the dawn that led to you conceiving your fifteen-year-old.  I think that’s awesome, and I’m really happy for you and little Shaman.  However, all the moonlight and tree bark in the world may not open my Fallopian tubes or clear out my endometriosis, so girl bye.

Friend, I’m sooo very sorry about your head cold.  I mean, it sounds like it sucks, and I can only imagine how hard it is to remember to take your antibiotics every day.  Man, I remember what that’s like, from the millions of colds I’ve had throughout my life. Because you’re so stressed out, I won’t bother bogging you down with my woe of being on a PCOS induced menstrual cyle from hell, or how I’ve hit day 20 of this one in particular.  I mean, you don’t have time to hear all of that, you’re going to need a day off pretty soon if that cold keeps getting you down.  But don’t you worry, you go ahead and take that day when you need it!  I’ll be here.  At work.  Bleeding.

Miss Claudine, I really want to thank you for your thoughts on adoption.  The idea that you believe something is “wrong” with kids who need to be adopted, was a little odd for me to hear from you.  You know, seeing as how that son of yours was actually birthed by your older sister’s youngest daughter.  But what do I know? Maybe you’re right and I guess as you say, “black folk don’t do that”.  However, considering I’m going through a painful decision process about whether or not adoption is the only option for my family, I really truly don’t need your judgment clouding mine, but thanks for sharing!

Speaking of adoption, Militant Buddy, I’d like for you to cool your heels when heading over to my Facebook inbox demanding that I not be selfish and that I take in one of the thousands of children in need of homes that I’m apparently ignoring.  I appreciate your passion, and I ask you, when are you visiting an agency, and how have you raised your $30,000 in fees?  I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for that.  I mean, you seem really touched by the idea of adoption, and I think anyone with this much fervor for it, must be pretty much on their way to doing it themselves right?  Or are you only suggesting it to me because it seems to you that I have to?  I’d also hope that before you open your home to one of the “thousands” of kids, that you’d take a bit to consider how you plan on telling your new kid that you felt like their only hope and that they were so unwanted that you just had to swoop in and save them.  Because they’re not kids, right?  They’re consolation prizes and charitable acts.  Right?  Right.

Sister Odell, it was great talking to you after church today.  I want to express to you just how helpful it was for me to hear you say that maybe my faith isn’t strong enough or that I’m not praying right,  or that I’m “in God’s way”.  I’d really like to hold on to that when next I see someone who has killed their children, or beaten them within an inch of their lives on the news.  It will remind me that those women, who are on their way to jail, obviously have much more faith than me, and that the Lord hears them and not me.  I’ve been teetering in my faith for a few years now because of this, and I’m glad to know that I’m not wrong, and that God really has forsaken me.  Thanks for the help in deciding not to return to church.  You really helped me out.

Aunt LuLu, I have always loved your sense of humor.  Your sex jokes can still make my dad blush, and you guys grew up together.  I can understand why someone as sexually liberated as yourself would think that us changing up what we’ve done in our bedroom over the last 16 years of marriage should be able to get us pregnant, but I’m sorry to say it won’t. Acrobatic tricks and “massage” oils won’t really do much for sperm count issues, and to be honest, your favorite flavored lubricant can actually kill them.  But I gotta give it to you though, out of all the other people I’ve talked to about this, I appreciate your sense of humor and openness the most.  It helps me to remember to laugh.

Best Friend, I’ve enjoyed sharing this part of my life with you.  We’ve been through so much together, that it would really be hard for me to not include you in what are some of the darkest times I’ve had to endure.  I want to thank you for always listening to me, and letting me vent about how hard it is for me to climb into those stirrups yet again only to be back at square one a few weeks later.  I guess our openness and candor is what makes you feel so comfortable complaining about your aching feet and back to me, or how tired of being pregnant you are.  You know, with this being your fourth baby, when I always thought we’d have had our first together and been pregnant besties who gave birth to besties, I guess it’s hard for you to have to let go of that dream, and so you feel the need to include me on every, single, detail of your pregnancy.  Rest assured, however, that I really don’t need to know.  I don’t actually need to hear your staunch views and jokes about how you wish you could get your husband “fixed” since every time he breathes on you, you get pregnant, and I really don’t give a care to be offered one of your kids every time they’re getting on your nerves around the house.  Do you have any idea how much my husband WISHES he could breathe on me?  Any thought about how I’d love for a toddler to make a mess of my living room?  It’s cool, and we’re cool, and I love you to the moon, but I need you to think when speaking to me these days.  I’m more fragile than I let on.

Mom, I want to thank you for simply asking me what you can do.  Yours is the best and most welcome thing that’s been said to me throughout this entire ordeal.  I am so sorry I haven’t been able to achieve the dreams you have for me, even if it’s been just the basic one of me being happy.  I’m grateful that when I need your advice, you know that I’ll ask for it, and that when you give it, you always take care to consider how I’ll feel after our talk.  I wish you could teach these other people. LOL

 

 

Opening The Door On…Infertility & Depression

Opening The Door On - Infertility and DepressionThe following is an anonymous submission for The Egg’s 2015 National Infertility Awareness Week Blog Project, #BehindClosedDoors.  This brave and powerful entry is one that will resonate with many, and one that I had to share.  THANK YOU to the Eggshell who sent it in, because she could be saving someone’s life with it.

If you are experiencing dark thoughts and need someone to talk to, please seek help. GoodTherapy.org offers a great search tool that will allow you to find help near you that specializes in the cares and concerns of those afflicted by infertility.   Remember “You Are Not Alone”.

Regina


A month or so ago I actually tried to take my own life.  I wasn’t strong enough to explain it here or anywhere else.  I did write it out though, and I’m posting it now.  My journey will never give anyone hope because…well I’m not pregnant and I never will be.  But maybe my journey will save someone else from letting themselves lapse into a despair that seems insurmountable.  Anyway, I don’t remember the exact date or time, but below is what I wrote about it.

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What If…Infertility Were Acknowledged.

What IF - Infertility Were Acknowledged

In my career of working with children over the past fourteen years or so, I’ve sat through many training courses that have stressed the importance of sensitivity to the home lives of children. We make care to have events that embrace “Family” or “Caregivers” rather than parents or mom’s and dad’s because we don’t want to make any child who doesn’t have a traditional home life, to feel out of place or embarrassed. We are careful to encourage the appreciation of all family types, and to acknowledge things like different family names, and the emergence of separate family structures.

What if we did that in all aspects? What if MY family structure was acknowledged and respected in that same manner of care? I wonder how that would look in this hyper-correct world we’ve tried to create for so many others.


There would be a special card section for Mother’s and Father’s Day that included those who are hoping to be parents one day, or who have lost children.

The childless couples in movie plots and books wouldn’t be used as the emotional scapegoats of the story arch.

The mere IDEA of asking someone when they planned to have kids would never cross anyone’s mind, because there would be in us an ingrained understanding that this was neither our business, nor appropriate conversation for the church aisle/family reunion/grocery store parking lot/class reunion/etc.

Teens in health classes would learn about things like Poly-cystic Ovary Syndrome, and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, and would be taught to preserve their reproductive health so that they can have the lives they want as ADULTS, rather than being scared straight about pregnancy.

Maybe children would be more greatly appreciated in our society in general.

Perhaps adoption wouldn’t be considered so much of a consolation prize, and people would take into account ALL forms of reproductive health options as viable paths to parenthood.

People would be thoughtful and considerate of what and how they ask questions of adoptive parents. They’d refrain from asking whether your kids knew their “real parents”, or if you were ever afraid that they’d pop up and take “their” kids back.

If infertility were acknowledged, more than five states would have received an A on Resolve’s Fertility Scorecard, with each of them doing their best to treat and serve patients of this disease with compassion and equality.

If infertility were acknowledged, maybe it wouldn’t hit each of us so hard when we receive our diagnoses. We would always know that it is a possibility, but not a period on our sentences, and we would use that knowledge to make plans and stick with them rather than cower at the sheer magnitude of it. We would discuss a plan with our doctors, and move forward with the peace that comes from knowing that we are not alone, because it would never have to hit any of us as the first time we’d heard about it.

If infertility were acknowledged, honestly and truly acknowledged, perhaps we’d be miles ahead of where we are, in its treatment, prevention, and care.

By acknowledging infertility for what it is: a disease that affects 7.4 million people, and speaking out about it in your own way, you can help it become a topic that is not covered in taboos and myths.

By resolving to know more about infertility, you and I can help to make sure that no on we come in contact with, will ever feel like this diagnosis is the end of their dreams, because we can speak to them assuredly.

By resolving to take control of our reproductive health, we can do our part to change the infertility conversation.

So let’s do that.
Together, we can move beyond “What IF’s”, to making a better what is.

Thank you for joining me this week for my National Infertility Awareness Week journey through the land of “What IF”.  For more information on Infertility and Infertility Resources, check out Resolve: The National Infertility Association.  Be sure and check out all the posts from this year’s NIAW blogger’s unite project.  Lastly, to read the other entries in my “What IF” series, click here:

A Week of What IF’s.
What IF…I Said What I Was Thinking.
What IF…I Were A Mom.
What IF…This Wasn’t So Hard.
What IF…I Could Just Stop Caring About This.
What IF…Infertility Were Acknowledged.

Featured image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What If…I Could JUST Stop Caring About This.

What IF - I Could Stop Caring About This

In a moment of devastation recently, I found myself saying out loud that I wished I just didn’t care about this.

I wish I was content to live a life without children in my home that didn’t get “returned to sender” at the close of the weekend or workday. I reckon that would be a peaceful way of life for my husband and I.

But try as I might, I can’t turn this off.

And I’m not sure why.
Could it be the primal instincts of all animals that drives us to procreate? Or perhaps my know-it-all-ness getting the better of me and my assuming that I could do this well if only given the chance? Or in that same vein, maybe it’s my logical mind that is angry that something that SHOULD have worked, has not.

I would very much like to not feel like every baby that doesn’t give that comfortable and knowing reach when I reach out to them isn’t personally casting their vote on my not being suitable.
I would also like to not feel so personally attacked by influxes of mom-driven marketing.
I don’t WANT to feel sad.
I don’t WANT to be insecure.
I don’t WANT to over-think every.little.thing.
But I do.

Last night, around 3am, I was texting with my husband, who was at work, and rattling off things that were driving me crazy.
Finally, he went, “Hey, you shouldn’t be thinking about that right now. There’s nothing that will come of it.”
And it incensed me.
Like, I could FEEL myself become enraged.
Not at him personally, but at the THOUGHT that there was an alternative to thinking about this. As though I’d CHOSEN to be up at 3am pondering the complexities of parental purgatory. Who would do this to THEMSELVES?

I told him as much.

He told me to go ahead and drive myself crazy, but to think about whether he felt like going on the trip before yammering on at him about it.

Sigh.
What do people think about in their lives when they aren’t consumed with this worry and anxiety?
How does one go through life without this constant nag in the background of every decision?
I wonder what it’s like to not CARE about this.

 

Featured image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What IF…This Wasn’t So Hard

What IF - This Weren't So Hard

I was talking to a friend yesterday about the ridiculous changes the both of us have had to endure over the past year or so regarding our infertility. We droned on and on about most of it, but then in a brief moment of clarity, one of us finally went, “This is HARD!”, and the other of us replied with, “RIGHT?!”

It really, truly is hard.

There are no “right” answers.
Life doesn’t stop and give you the opportunity to catch up to yourself.
You can’t call in “infertile and devastated” to work.
It just keeps moving.

What IF infertility wasn’t so hard, though? What IF I didn’t have to fight for every single inch? What IF this had come easy for me like it has for so many others? Who would I be, and what would infertility mean to me?

If this weren’t so hard:
I probably wouldn’t know as much about my body as I do now.
I can admit to being rather flighty about it when I was younger and thought that all bodies were created equal. I track everything about myself now to the point where there is a separate section in my google calendar just for monitoring. I’m my own obsession now.

I would be one of the ones who didn’t get it.
As a teen, I can remember asking my mother why some family members didn’t have children, and my FIRST thought was always that they must not have wanted any. Because if you wanted kids, you had them, right? So to be an adult, with a job and a house, and still no children of your own, you must have decided that kids just weren’t for you, and that you didn’t want to be bothered. The millisecond that this thing gets real for you, all that ignorance falls away like leaves.

I wouldn’t be so aware of how much my community is lacking in reproductive health information.
You really never know what’s missing until you’re looking for it. In my years of haphazard pap smears and birth control pills thrown in my direction, I never even knew there was something else I should have been asking about. All I knew about fibroids was taught through the radio commercials that proclaimed loudly about how there was a “NEW procedure that would only require outpatient surgery and no hysterectomy!”. These commercials usually aired midday on V103, right after an Anita Baker song, and just before Luther Vandross.
I can remember no pamphlet or discussion with any doctor of mine which explained fibroids themselves OR hysterectomies.
I never knew to ask why my periods lasted so long, or what kind of effects my birth control pills could have on my future reproductive health. I did whatever my doctors told me was best. They said hypothyroid, and I stopped at hypothyroid.
Which brings me to my next revelation…

I wouldn’t know how to advocate for myself medically.
I never questioned a doctor in my life prior to fighting for my infertility choices.
I never willingly CHANGED doctors in my life prior to fighting for my infertility choices.
I never brought a pen and pad, or researched before an appointment, prior to fighting for my infertility choices.
I never mapped out my medical choices so extensively.
I never checked my doctor’s “report cards”.
I never got to know the nurses at my doctor’s offices, or even thought much about the office itself after my appointments.
But now?
I have conversations. I recognize that while that doctor is in the room with me, they are on MY dime and MY time, and neither of us is leaving until I’M satisfied.

I wouldn’t know how to advocate for and with YOU.
In learning to speak up for myself, or at least get some of this really difficultness off of my chest, I’ve been able to interact and support hundreds of others who found themselves in very similar positions. Together, we’ve cried, yelled, laughed, and pushed through to our own resolutions. Some have gone to become parents, others have decided enough was enough, but each of us have grown just a little more. I owe those friendships to this struggle. As hard as it has been.

I wouldn’t know my own strength.
I have learned a lot about myself in these past years, but some things I’ve always known. I know that when I’m hurting, I tend to shut down and deflect. I know that when I’m afraid, I roll into a ball and try to protect myself. I know that I scare pretty easily, overall, and that my pain threshold is meek.
BUT.
I have learned that when I’m afraid, I will go anyway, and do whatever is needed.
I have learned that when I’m hurting, I find peace in helping others, and in speaking out.
I have learned that trying to protect myself is secondary for me when others are in danger, or uninformed.
I have learned that while many things scare me, never having tried, is my most frightening thought.
I have learned that when it matters, my pain threshold is far higher than I ever would have imagined.
I have learned that I can be stronger than I ever thought possible, because it’s often all I have left.
I have learned that I DO NOT GIVE UP.

 

Featured image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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