"...Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."
Romans 8:24b-25

13 January 2013

Sleepless Nights

I often spend precious minutes and even hours browsing Facebook and Twitter at "ridiculous o'clock in the morning" because I am unable to sleep. Sleep is something I covet. I lay beside DH, listening to him breathe, thinking perhaps I will join him if enough time passes.  This morning I decided I may as well attempt to blog.

"Oh, no! (Insert eye roll) She's not going to complain about her infant keeping her up at night, is she?!?"

No. Actually, E is sound asleep and has been for quite some time.  Sure, she's the reason I woke up at 2:45 this morning, but I can actually do midnight feedings half asleep, even forget the next morning that I was ever up.

This morning I couldn't sleep because my brain wouldn't be quiet.  I've often said that I wish there was an "off" switch for my brain.  There are usually no less than three thoughts running through my head at any given moment, with a song running along in the background.  On really thought-filled days there may even be an ongoing counting session running alongside the song. That's during the day.

At night the thoughts seem to be less cluttered, but they're louder.  They may take turns, but they do so in rapid-fire mode.

I suppose that during the day there are so many things vying for my attention that the thoughts must just stack up on top of each other.  Then at night, when all I have to "do" is sleep, the thoughts are the only thing vying for my attention.  These are not very often the easy kind of thoughts like, "Remember to buy eggs tomorrow...you forgot to drop the package off at the post office."  Those thoughts are easy to tune out and are a quick mental check that can be dismissed as quickly as they come.

The thoughts that keep me awake at night and in the early morning hours are the ones that usually regard circumstances in my life that have no solution.  One thought about one circumstance may lead me to another thought about a separate circumstance, which leads me to another one and another and before I know it, I'm processing through all the big issues that I've conveniently left simmering on the back burner as I live in the moment of each new day.

As I lay in bed two hours ago doing my Kegels, trying to fall asleep after feeding E, a blog post began forming in my head (not this one...this one is off the cuff).  I realized that one of the things that's been nagging at the back of my mind during the day is that I need to blog again, and honestly, blogging regularly may help me sort through some of the thoughts.

My trouble is that blog posts no longer stay in my head long enough for me to get to the computer, or even the notes app on my phone, to jot down a line or two (perhaps due to my lack of sleep?).  I had a MUCH better blog post forming in my head on my way downstairs about this sleepless night, but by the time I got myself settled, the thoughts were vague and distant.

Ah, well...it's almost time to get up for church, so I'll try to catch a few winks before then.  Just acknowledging the fact that I have potential blog posts swirling in my head seems to have helped.  Or maybe it's the cathartic sound of the keyboard lulling me into a drowsy state.

I'm giving you all a head's up...it's past time for me to blog about the birth of E and the physical, mental, and emotional repercussions that has had on me.  I expect that there will be more than one blog post written on the subject.  And, hopefully I will be able to begin that with my next post.

In the mean time, rest well.  May all of your nights be filled with peaceful, restful sleep.


06 December 2012

It's Been a While...

Just short of 9 months, as a matter of fact.

At first I wasn't posting much during pregnancy because I didn't want to alienate those still walking the deep trenches of infertility, and I didn't know how to share what was going on in my world in a way that wouldn't do that.

Then, after EG was born, I was in the midst of what is called "the 4th trimester" in which there were very few moments of alone time when I wasn't sleeping to try to keep up.  But I longed to be online and sharing my heart with you all.

After that came the stage of: "Okay, I have energy, my baby is okay on her own for bits at a time, and LOOK at this MESS of a house and all the many things I must do to catch up!" I felt guilty even checking e-mail, much less sitting down to type out my rambling thoughts.

Eventually I transitioned into a place where I was okay with the function of the household but I was needing a break from being needed. If my sweet baby didn't need me, my husband did. And if it wasn't my husband, it was my cat.  And on the days when even my cat was content, some crisis would erupt in some other part of my life and more than anything I just wanted to be selfish and curl up in my bed and be alone for as long as anyone would let me.

Time passed and I came to terms with needing to give more of myself than I thought there was to give, but I also learned to step back from some things or people for a time and to be more vocal than I already was about what I needed and how others could meet those needs.

I can't say that I'm anywhere close to having "it all together" (or even anything together for that matter), but I can say that I'm finally approaching a place where I can look at the areas of my house that still need de-cluttering/organizing and not feel an extreme amount of pressure; I can look to my husband and say, "We don't have to do takeout again, I have things to cook, but I need you to watch EG while I cook," (or do laundry, or de-clutter...whatever the case may be); I can look at my sweet daughter playing on her blanket on the floor and feel the freedom to step into another room (like the bathroom, for example) and take the time to do what I need to do.

Which brings me to this moment.  I still don't know what to write or how to write it in a way that won't alienate many of you who hold a very real place in my heart.  But I realized that when I wasn't checking my e-mail and couldn't do more than just glance at Twitter, I already lost much of the bond that had formed with so many that I care about in this community.  When I would post, it would be pictures of EG, which I'm certain were not welcomed by all on Twitter.  I lost followers, and I lost touch.  With a complete lack of blog posts, my reason for not blogging was actually coming to fruition because when I became silent, I alienated not just some, but ALL.

I care deeply about this community and I know there are still those I've connected with who care deeply about me, DH, and EG (and yes, even our cat, G).  So, I've decided to blog again. Not just for myself. Not just for those I've already connected with.  But for those who may yet stumble upon this blog. My story didn't end when we finally conceived. Our journey through infertility still continues.  We are just traveling a part of the journey that isn't on the map for everyone.  Everyone's journey is different, even among those of us who have children.  I'd love for you to continue walking alongside me on this journey, and I hope to be a blessing to you along the way.

28 March 2012

38 Weeks

I cried today over the thought of delivering the baby.  
I wept bitter tears.
I sobbed for so long and so hard that I ended up with a rather large headache.

Am I scared? Am I dreading the delivery process and the pain? Are those the reasons I cried?  The answer is, No.

I cried today over the thought of delivering the baby because it seems like she only just began existing.  I feel that I haven't had nearly enough time with her...with DH and me both enjoying the pregnancy, together.

I hear that most pregnant women, by the time they reach their 38th week, are beyond ready to get the baby out of them.  So much so that they grumble and complain and do silly things to try to get labor started.

I, on the other hand, am wanting to extend the pregnancy as long as possible...not yet ready to sever this connection I have with the life that is growing inside of me.

I am looking forward to meeting her and to seeing what she looks like and discovering all the amazing things about her that I can when she's here...but (God willing), there will be plenty of time for that after she arrives.  However, once she is born, there will be no talking to my belly, no mystery of what's going on inside of me, no feeling little kicks, squirms, wiggles, and hiccups.

I told DH all of this as he supported me in my less than rational state of mind.  And then I said, "She's safe inside of me.  Once she's born, she's not safe."  And that's part of it.  Granted, a lot can go wrong on the inside just as it can on the outside, and her being in me doesn't keep her any safer than she would be outside of me.  But there's that sense that right now she's protected.  She's protected from my mood swings, from temperature changes, from hunger, from diaper rash, from the cat's curiosity...  

And in a way, I'm protected, too.  I don't yet have to be "super-mom."  Sure, right now I have to take care of my body, but I do that anyway.  Once she's born, I have to be available in ways I'm not accustomed to.  "But didn't you realize that when you embarked on this journey toward parenthood?  Didn't you consider the cost?" you may ask.  Of course I did!  None of the things we've been preparing for are surprises to us.  We have diapers and wipes and an entire array of baby things we will need to meet the needs of this little girl once she makes her appearance.  We recognized almost a decade ago the challenges that come with parenthood.  We counted the cost and are still more than willing to meet those challenges head on.

But today, as I complete the last day of my 38th week, as my hormones fluctuate in preparation for labor, I realized how fleeting these 38 weeks have been.  I look forward to seeing our daughter face to face.  To cuddling her, nuzzling her, caring for her, hearing her precious newborn cry...

But as much as I want to meet her and see her in my husband's arms, I'd be okay with her hanging out inside of me just a little bit longer.

Copyright 2012 Rebekah Lynn Photography

27 March 2012

What Is Normal, Anyway?

* This post was written roughly a week before it was posted, when I just completed 37 weeks.

It's as if I tried to live like everything's normal.
We have contenders for names, but haven't really chosen one or made great efforts toward choosing one.
I haven't yet packed a bag for the Birth Center.
We haven't focused on reading books to learn about parenting or even pregnancy and childbirth for that matter.
I didn't maintain my exercise routine like I imagined I would.
I haven't made many physical preparations for natural delivery as I originally expected and planned to do.
I haven't knit one single stitch for the baby.  Not one.  I always imagined that the minute I learned I was pregnant I would pick up my knitting needles and not put them down until I had completed a layette, a stuffed animal, booties, a hat, and a blanket for the baby.
Instead, I picked up the TV remote, slept a ton, or went out of the house as a distraction.

I have spent most of this pregnancy distracting myself from the abnormal...even while the abnormal is a type of normal for our family.

We decided to pursue IVF just before we moved into a house that was damaged by our previous tenants.  We scrambled to restore a sense of order to it while DH was away in California for a month of training and prior to him leaving for Iraq. 

He left for Iraq just after we learned the IVF was unsuccessful and we had lost and were grieving the loss of 14 of 15 embryos.  We count them in our hearts as 14 children we have yet to meet.

DH deployed and a few days later I started another round of hormones for the Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET).

A few weeks after the deployment began, we had the procedure to transfer our one frozen embryo into my uterus. DH was there via Skype.

DH and I learned we were pregnant "together" over the Internet...a new kind of "normal" for us.

I went through cravings, morning sickness, mood swings, and physical changes in my own house, by myself, without my support system/partner/best friend/husband.

I often forgot I was pregnant when I was at home because DH wasn't there to remind me by making sweet comments that expectant fathers make to their wives.  Even after I started showing and could feel the baby move, I would forget for large portions of the day that I was pregnant because it wasn't part of what was "normal" in my world.

Copyright 2012 Rebekah Lynn Photography
Only when the baby moved or when someone outside of the house commented on my appearance would I remember I was pregnant.  I didn't have a husband doting on me at home, putting his face to my belly and talking to the life growing inside of me.  Our baby didn't really hear her father's voice until well into the 8th month of pregnancy.

My battle buddy, the cat DH and I had learned to love in spite of all of it's awful habits and personality traits...the cat God had used to test our metal, to strengthen our resolve, and to prove our dedication, commitment, and loyalty...the cat that had provoked me to cuss on a regular basis but over which would rise up in me a fiercely loyal defensiveness if anyone spoke an ill word against it...the cat family members insisted we get rid of if we were to have children...the cat that we had FINALLY rehabilitated, FINALLY convinced it was safe and not in danger in the world, that could FINALLY be around children and behave almost as a normal cat...this cat we had poured our time, love, and money into for seven and a half years...died.

Normal was slipping even further away.

I became ill with what felt like, looked like, and yet wasn't the Flu.  There was no one there to bring me water when I needed a drink.  No one to bring me something to eat, much less prepare it.  I ran fever for six days, by myself, in my room, yet I still had the other cat to take care of.

I seldom get sick.  When I do, DH is usually there to care for me.  It's also usually normal for me to let my fever run its course and for me to sleep as long as I need to without worrying about eating.  With the baby on board, I HAD to eat and I NEEDED to keep the fever down.  But, because the baby was on board, a simple cold that wouldn't have phased me normally, knocked me on my rear and had me bedridden for days.  I praise God for my mom who was able to go out of her way to stop by my house twice during that time to bring me medicine and to do what she could to set up my room where I would have to get up as little as possible. 

For once, the baby was constantly on my mind as I feared I wasn't staying cool enough with my temperature spiking so frequently, and I feared I was starving the poor child as I was unable to prepare much to eat or even stomach much of anything.  

Normal was the farthest thing from my world at that time.

I recovered physically and then the holidays came.  Not only was DH not here for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year, but my hormones were changing as I settled into a new trimester, my body was expanding as the baby grew, and I foolishly planned to spend every free moment of the holidays with family...first with DH's, and then with my own.  I don't even do that when DH is here to help me keep perspective.  I have no idea why I thought it would be a good idea in his absence.  Normal was non-existent.

The holidays were an emotional disaster for me personally and there were several casualties of my internal war who were deeply affected.  While I've recognized, repented, and done what I could to set things right again following the aftermath, there is still healing that will have to occur before any real sense of normal can be reestablished with some who were involved.  On a positive note, my relationship with my mother is stronger than it's ever been before and I'm excited for her to be involved with us as the baby arrives.  But there were deep wounds elsewhere that will require more than time for healing.

At some point in the midst of all of this, DH's unit said they were coming home.  Then they weren't.  Then they were, then they weren't again.  Meanwhile, my support group at church had the other unit's wives in it, rejoicing when I was sad and sad when I wanted to rejoice, as their husbands' unit was the counter-tug in our tug-of-war of who gets to come home and who has to stay.  When one woman whose husband is enlisted brought up the accusation that I couldn't understand something because my husband is an officer, I had to quit going to the group.  I had enough in my life working against me negatively to subject myself to such accusations and lack of support in the very place I was seeking support.

DH's unit was finally chosen to stay and I was finally able to rest in knowing when he would return.  There were some good days, but I was tired a lot and found it difficult to eat.  I learned I wasn't getting enough protein, so I found a new resolve to get more creative and was able to remedy the situation.  It's difficult to have the motivation to prepare ample, healthy food for just myself, especially when I'm already lacking energy.  Had DH been home, cooking would have seemed more necessary, and would have been easier because he would have helped either pick up groceries or taken care of the dishes...most likely both.  As it was, it was easier for me to eat the bare minimum after my pot of stew for the week ran out when I didn't even have the energy to clean the now-empty pot.

Word came that DH was coming home early and that we would be in another town for a couple of months just as the baby was due.  Hello, Normal!

I scrambled to get things in order, attended a birth class (sans husband) meanwhile dealing with the aforementioned aftermath of the holidays.  During this time, I learned of some very difficult news involving two of our closest friends.  DH and I were floored and longed to be there for them in any way possible, yet we were extremely limited in our options.  Fasting (from media, not from food) and prayer became the new normal for me.

Meanwhile, as my heart was aching for these dear friends, my life was suddenly a whirl of baby showers and last minute repairs and preparations on the house.  I attempted to get the nursery as ready as possible and make the house feel as put-together as possible, even though there was still much to do to restore what the renters had ruined.

Finally, DH was due to arrive!  Yet even that had its drama, requiring me to reschedule plans with the hotel at least three times.  And while I had trepidations of what it might be like for my husband to see me for the first time in 8 months and for us to be "reunited" (ahem) for the first time since becoming pregnant, at the 8th month mark, I didn't allow those concerns to overshadow his homecoming.  I looked forward to finally regaining a sense of normal.

But, as any good military wife knows, so much changes over a deployment.  Obviously my body had changed.  But the REASON behind my body's changes was going to be the biggest adjustment.
I was excited to have him home and couldn't wait for him to talk to the baby and help me feel pregnant, help me feel like being pregnant was normal.  Neither of us had had any idea how strangely difficult it would be to overcome seven and a half years of thinking of ourselves as incapable of being pregnant.  While embracing the fact that we were pregnant was not at all difficult, embracing the pregnancy and all that it involves as something WE were privileged to experience was beyond surreal and far, far from normal.
Copyright 2012 Rebekah Lynn Photography
So, here we are...in an RV my parents so graciously allowed us to borrow so our cat could stay with us, in a town three hours from my nurse-midwife and the hospital I originally expected to deliver at, three weeks a way from the 40 week mark, completely unprepared for what is to come.  As my friends who were due the same time as I am either have already given birth (prematurely) or are experiencing symptoms of labor, I am keenly aware of how much preparation for DH and me there is still to be done.  We have contingency plans in case our ideal plan of delivery doesn't pan out, and the baby will have all she needs when she arrives...but this is not where or how I imagined I would be at the nearing of our first child's arrival.

For me, it seems, "normal" is the lack of normalcy.  And trying to cling to my idea of normal only muddies the water and delays preparation for what is to come.

I am thankful to be expecting this child.
I am thankful DH is here to talk to her, to lead, support, and encourage me, and to physically represent God's continued faithfulness and steadfastness in my life.
Neither of us really knows what we will do when the time to birth this baby comes, but that's pretty much standard operation for our lives.  The plans we have set in advance often fall by the wayside and we usually have to adjust at the last minute to the way things actually pan out.  We are planning to prepare better for the delivery, in what little time we have remaining...at the very least, I will finally pack a bag ;-)  
But I've been reminded over these last nine months that, while normal is in no way overrated, it is not something that is always beneficial to cling to.  Part of why I love the life of being in the military, why I love marriage, and why I longed to experience pregnancy is because of the adventure of it all.  
"Normal" tames adventure, and let me tell you, this year has been one wild ride!
Copyright 2012 Rebekah Lynn Photography

27 January 2012

What's In a Name?

Definition of "name" (according to Webster)
name: (n)1. a word...by which a person...is known, called, or spoken to or of.  2. a word or words expressing some quality considered characteristic or descriptive of a person..., often showing approval or disapproval.
naming: 1. to give a name or title to. 3. to identify by the right name.

Names have meaning.

I've always been a firm believer that it's important to use words appropriately to convey intent clearly.  I believe that names have a greater importance than general words.  If general words lay the foundation for what is being conveyed, then names are the structures built upon that foundation.  Perhaps that's why I'm such a lover of allegories.

When I was born, my parents did not have a name for me.  I was nameless for three days.  After observing me, they decided that I was very much a Julie, but they did not like the way "Julie Lynn" sounded together. So they named me Julia Lynn and called me Julie.  That decision, believe it or not, has shaped my personality more than they could have possibly imagined.

There is a significant part of me that LOVES being a girly-girl. I adore dressing up in fancy dresses for balls or to go to the opera, having my hair done and wearing makeup for those occasions.  I'm attracted to victorian style furniture, decor, and jewelry. And I have an uncanny ability of determining (without ever seeing a price tag) that the most expensive item in a store, is exactly the item that I need.  I welcome structure, enforce rules, and want everyone to like who I am.  That (in my opinion) is the "Julia" in me.
There's another part of me that HATES small talk, chit-chat, and shopping for clothes. I despise wearing shoes for the sake of fashion. I'm clueless as a whole when it comes to fashion and would rather wear jeans and a casual shirt than have to think about what cut and style of clothing looks best on me.  I have a significant lack of awareness of time, am easily distracted. The only jewelry I wear is my wedding band, engagement ring, and a simple pair of earrings. I'd rather stay home than have to organize or initiate an outing, but I'm happy to get together with friends as long as someone else is planning the affair.  I need others to extend grace to me on a regular basis and I let my temper get the best of me more often than is fitting for a lady.  This (in my opinion) is the "Julie" in me.

As a child, I had more of a tendency toward the "Julia" personality. But once I had to face real life, the "Julie" in me took precedence.  It wasn't until I was shopping for a wedding gown that I had to physically deal with my internal conflict.  I tried on gown after gown (the one in the magazine that was perfect was, of course, WAY out of our price range). One gown would shout "Julia!" whereas the next gown would scream "Julie!"  Over and over again I would find one or the other, until finally I put on a dress that encompassed all of me.

So, it's been important to me for quite a while if we were ever blessed with the opportunity to name a child that we choose the correct name.

Initially, when we started talking about names and considering different ones, we didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl. Finding a name for a boy was no struggle.  We agreed right away.  We simply could not agree on any names for a girl.  Names I loved, for both their meaning and sound, he hated.  Names he loved, I couldn't stand.  Meanwhile, I was sharing our top ten picks with friends and family.  It wasn't until after I'd already told several people names that we were considering that DH informed me he wanted to keep the name a secret until the baby arrived, especially since we were having trouble deciding.

I had a conversation with DH last night in which I (half-jokingly) said, "Why doesn't God still do that whole 'send an angel or appear to you in person to tell you what to name your kid' thing?  It'd be a LOT easier! Especially since names are so important to Him."

I also told him that there are very few names in the bible that the person didn't turn out to be exactly like the meaning of their name.  I told him that I could think of three reasons this might be the case. 1) It could be that names carry such weight and significance that when someone is given a name they are destined to become what that name signifies (this argument goes out the window with a name like Cameron given to someone who was born with a straight nose); 2) It could be that the names in the bible are all allegorical (my least favorite supposition) for the sake of impacting the listener/reader in the retelling of the life and event (the names have been changed to protect the innocent, kind of thing); or 3) It could be that biblical names took on their meaning because of the way the people bearing those names turned out.

Personally, I think options 2 & 3 are very far-fetched. Number 2 would take a whole blog post to debate, but number 3 disregards the fact that people were named at birth with a Hebrew word that sounded like, or actually was, a word with an already set meaning.  I am a subscriber to the first theory.  I believe that people tend to become what they are named.  Whether this is because their parents were compelled to name them something that matched their personality or because words truly do have power, I'm not 100% sure.  I'm actually inclined to believe it's a little bit of both. I also think that's why God made such a big deal with specific characters in telling their parents what their child was to be named, because He had huge plans for them.

At the same time, I also believe that our child currently has her personality.  That she is who she will become at the core of her being.  That God designed her with a specific character that we will have a hand in shaping and training, but that is already there within her.  I also believe that He already has a name chosen for her.  I just wish He would clue us in on what it is ;-)  Have you ever met someone that just didn't fit their name?  It's rare, but it happens.  And when it does, it's a little off-putting.  Truthfully, those are the people I can NEVER remember their names...ever.  I almost always want to call them by a name that isn't theirs.

Well, drama has arisen as a result of this whole process of naming our daughter.

My mother was one of the people I had mentioned our top ten list to before being informed by DH that he didn't want to tell people what we would name, or potentially name, our daughter.  While I doubt that she specifically remembers all the names that I rattled off, I have no doubt that some of those names stuck in her subconscious.

After I told her that we were not planning to share the names we were considering, she selectively "forgot" that we had said that and decided to try to get me to let her play a guessing game.  Why I didn't just walk away, I don't know, but I should have.  Sure enough, she guessed the dreaded NICK-NAME of the actual name at the top of our list.  

I have a thing against nick-names.  They're a nick of a name!  They're not the real deal, they're a shortening of it.  To me it's like saying part of that person isn't important.  If I've chosen a name, it's because of it's meaning.  The entire name has significance and I don't want to shorten it.  I realize that some people (like my husband) just can't help it because it's their way of creating a term of endearment...I will have to live with that.  And some people plan to use the nick-name from the beginning because it encompasses what they want conveyed through the name or what they see in the child.  But for me it's like when my husband said, "Hey!  We could name her Elizabeth and then call her Beth!" and my response was, "Why not just name her Beth?" His response was, "Because Elizabeth is a beautiful name." So I replied, "Then why not call her Elizabeth?"  Nick-names are just lost on me.

So, the drama.  My mom said the dreaded nick-name, the one I had told DH that he is the ONLY person I would allow to call our daughter that name because I couldn't stand it and I knew why he loved it and could appreciate that with him.  My mother said it with such a look of tenderness and longing...a look that conveyed "that is the most precious name I can think of and I hope I get to call her that one day," that I knew if we decided for certain to go with that name that there was NO WAY I could keep my mom from calling her by the shortened name that I hate.  I was angry that she guessed it, I was angry that I allowed her to continue her guessing game, and I was angry that she didn't respect that we didn't want to tell people the name in advance and that included her.

I was able to talk to her about it the next day after I had cooled off a bit and had time to process why I had become angry.  Since then, I've also realized that a lot of why I became angry (besides the hormones) is that I struggle very much with pride and stubbornness and with a strong will.  A sure way of derailing my thought and making me obsess over something is to assert that something that was originally "my" idea is in fact your idea.  Drives me absolutely insane. So the thought of my mother thinking that she essentially named our child, or significantly influenced us in the direction of naming our child, got under my skin faster than you can blink!  I immediately texted DH and told him we could NOT use that name, ever, and it took me almost an entire 24 hours to calm down enough to think rationally.

So this morning, I noticed a bunch of people had suddenly commented on a picture in my Facebook pregnancy album.  (I've taken great pains not to post those pictures in the main feed for the sake of my infertile friends, and I simply post a status update that I have added new pictures to the album if they're interested in viewing them.  Now with that "live feed" side-bar I may as well be posting them on the main feed because once someone comments on the picture it announces it to the world.) 

One of the comments this morning was from my mother-in-law, and wouldn't you know that she went and made a comment about a particular name that keeps coming to her mind.  The worst part is, it's the middle name that is at the top of the list, which I've recently been wavering on, I might add.  It irritated me that she felt compelled to comment, but it irritated me even more that it was in a public forum.  At least my mom did her guessing game privately.

Well, this afternoon, my mother-in-law called me and casually mentioned her comment on my photo and said, "I just couldn't help myself," and I held my tongue and kept from saying, "I wish you would have."  Instead, I said, "Well, we'll tell people her name when she's born," and she gushed on and on about how absolutely that was what we needed to do and it was a good idea and so on and so forth.  And she meant it!  And then she proceeded to say, "Well, have you considered [this name]? What about [this one]?  I've always liked [this name].  You could always use part of your own name.  Do any of your grandmothers have a good name you could use?"  I know she's just trying to be helpful, but it reminds me of when people would tell us, "Have you considered adoption?" as if it was something we'd never heard of before and their suggestion of it would be the "aha!" moment we needed to "fix" our infertility!  It FEELS like people think we're somehow clueless and incapable when it comes to picking out names. 

We're not clueless!  We're cautious!  A name is a big deal.  It's a decision that lasts a lifetime and affects another person for the rest of their life.  I told DH this morning that it's as big a decision as deciding to get married!  It's a big deal.

I wish I were more like my sisters and could just roll with the tide and swell of people submitting their un-asked-for two cents.  I wish I could, with ease and grace, respond with a cute little quip that would make the person know their intent was well-received, but still make them stop at the same time.  Unfortunately, the Julia in me is not shining through at this time and the temperamental Julie is getting the better of me.

One of these days, I hope to look back at all this silliness and laugh.  In the mean time, I'm having to learn not only to hold my tongue, but also to keep my face from displaying clearly every thought I'm thinking.  (And I could use a ton of prayer about my attitude.)

09 January 2012

Between Two Worlds

"Let's start at the very beginning.  A very good place to start..."

I began writing this blog about a year after the idea came to mind, when I finally felt like I had something worthwhile to share.

I began writing this blog because I honestly didn't know there were many (if any) blogs being written about infertility and the struggles, heartache, emotions, etc. that go along with it.

I began writing this blog because I felt it was important to have an open dialogue about something, in my experience, most people are uncomfortable talking about and want to push under a rug or wrap up in a nice, neat little package and leave it at the doorstep of Adoption.

I began writing this blog because I had finally begun to sort through the years of struggle we had endured; had finally had enough of the silence; had finally begun viewing our circumstances from a healthy perspective.

I began writing this blog because I knew there were others "out there" struggling, suffering, grieving in silence and I wanted them to know that they were not alone.  I wanted them to have a safe place to go to find someone else walking in the land of Infertility.

I took great pains creating a title to the blog.  Up to that point, the only blogs I had read were gluten-free blogs, a blog written by a Hooters girl, and personal friends' and family's blogs...all of which had pictures and most of which insisted if you didn't have pictures then no one would read your blog.  But I digress.

The blog name I chose was one I thought would grow with me as I grew and grow with our family as it grew.

You see, when I first decided to write the blog, I knew that I was finally content with our circumstances.  And it's been my experience in life that just when I get comfortable with how God has things, He changes them.  So, while I didn't know that our family was going to expand as quickly as it did, I knew that something was liable to change...even if that something was simply my contentment with circumstances.

I've been thinking for months that I need to get back to blogging.  But each time that thought entered my mind it was immediately followed by the question, "But what would I say?"  Then today, my Dear Husband made the comment to me, all the way from Kuwait, that it had been forever since I had posted on my blog.  I knew then that I couldn't put it off any longer.

My target audience has always been people struggling with infertility and the people that are close to them.  When I wanted nothing more than to be pregnant, I honestly didn't want to hear the ramblings of a pregnant person...whether they had experienced Infertility or not, unless of course their ramblings had nothing to do with their pregnancy.

But I couldn't very well start rambling about my daily life when the entire topic of my blog is about the journey through Infertility.

The irony is, my Dear Husband and I are actually STILL walking on the journey through Infertility.  This pregnancy hasn't miraculously cured us of the problems that have kept us from getting pregnant over the last 7 1/2 years.  We still get angry when we know people who readily terminate a pregnancy simply because it's inconvenient, and we still tell them "We'll adopt the baby if you'll take it to term."  We still get annoyed when we see and hear parents take their kids for granted and fail to recognize what a blessing they are.

Our perspective has been forever changed.  We will never view pregnancy, children, or parenthood from a "fertile" mindset.

One of my dear friends who has two beautiful daughters through IVF helped me see early on that Infertility doesn't disappear once a pregnancy is achieved.  Although there are those unique stories of women who never struggle to get pregnant after their first pregnancy, in many circumstances this is not the norm.  My aforementioned friend shared with me that she still catches herself wondering each month if maybe this month they will be pregnant.  At the time, I had it in my head that if I could just get pregnant then all the pain would disappear.  Her words brought home the reality that pregnancy isn't always the remedy for, or antidote to, Infertility.

So, here I sit, pregnant, with a precious little girl kicking inside of me even as I type these words, wondering what to do about this blog that has become a tremendous source of encouragement for me.

As I typed out the sentence, "Our perspective has been forever changed," just a moment ago, I was struck by the fact that with this pregnancy, our Infertile perspective has also been changed.

We are still on this journey.  But the emotions we face now and the struggles we are encountering are new and uncharted.  We don't fit in the Fertile world.  We never will, and I'm thankful for that because I appreciate the different perspective we've been granted through our struggle.  

But we also don't fit entirely in the Infertile world because (despite my husband being deployed for the duration), we are experiencing what is often the deepest longing of couples enduring Infertility...the presence and experience of life growing inside of my body, forever changing our world, forever changing our perspective.

I long to continue writing this blog.
I long to continue offering encouragement to those struggling with Infertility.
I long to continue to have growing friendships with those I have met online through this blog.
I long to be true to my readers.

But I am unsure as to how to proceed.  It doesn't seem right, whether the name lends itself to the expansion of our family or not, to begin writing about the experiences of pregnancy.

I would appreciate reading thoughts and comments from you, my readers, on ideas you may have as to how I can still be an encouragement in the midst of this transition.

21 October 2011

I Was "That Girl"

Recently, my cousin, who has been aware of her infertility far longer than I have been of my own, had a small family gathering to celebrate her dad's birthday since he and his wife were in town from out of state.  My cousin only lives 45 minutes away from me and I couldn't justify missing the gathering, especially since I do not often see my uncle.  I was also under the impression that my sister, who is pregnant with her 5th child, would be there with her family, and possibly some of my other siblings.

So, the day arrived, and although I was very tired and had a long weekend ahead of me, I made the drive, looking forward to seeing family I don't often see.  My parents were there, my mom's other brother and his wife were there, another cousin of mine was there with her kids, and then there was me.  It was a small gathering, but it was nice for visiting.

I'm not yet used to this whole "being pregnant" thing, and I'll be honest, I'm not as big a fan of the attention I get now because of the pregnancy as many people tend to be.  I'm not sure if it's because I don't really feel pregnant, if it's some latent feeling of being undeserving of such attention, or if it's because my husband isn't here with me to enjoy it and be a part of it.  All I know is it's a strange thing to be the center and focus of pregnancy talk after so many years of standing on the outskirts of conversations about pregnancy.

Usually what's on my mind when I'm at a family gathering is: 1) What food is there here that I can eat without making the hostess feel the need to prepare something special, and 2) How can I keep from reliving awkward memories from the past and/or making new ones for the future.  Since I hadn't eaten in several hours, my mind was mostly on the food.

As I was standing in the kitchen, the cousin who was hosting was setting things out in preparation to eat, and one of my aunts and my other cousin came over to me to talk about the pregnancy.  I didn't think much of it.  It was nice to actually have something to talk about besides my food restrictions and the fact that I don't work or have children.  So I shared my observations about pregnancy, and had a great conversation with my aunt and cousin.  I didn't even feel awkward talking about being pregnant.

And then I looked up and saw my cousin, the hostess, standing on the outskirts of the conversation, listening but not participating, and I was immediately in her shoes in my mind.

I tried to convince myself that the conversation probably didn't bother her since she and her husband had decided to adopt rather than attempting to pursue any medical intervention.  I tried to believe that she probably wasn't feeling pain because her 9 year old son was running through the house, playing with his cousins.  I even tried to convince myself that maybe she didn't even hear what was being said because she's hard of hearing and with all the background noise her hearing aids might have missed the conversation.

But this is the same cousin that had once told me that even after adoption, the longing is still there...the hope still comes with every cycle and the disappointment on calendar day one.

I was torn.  I didn't want to be rude and abruptly end the conversation, but I didn't want to be insensitive and continue it, either.  I tried, and eventually succeeded, to change the subject to that of dietary needs and restrictions, but the damage had been done.

I, an infertile pregnant woman, had stood in the kitchen of another infertile woman and had a long conversation in front of her with other people about the joys of my own pregnancy.  I was "That Girl."  The one that didn't recognize the need for sensitivity.  The one that didn't shut up, but rather gushed on and on about the experience of being pregnant.  I caused a fellow infertile woman to be keenly reminded of her infertility, IN HER OWN HOME!

I immediately wished I hadn't come and even wondered why I had.  What did I really think I had to offer my uncle by being there?  His brothers and sisters, daughter and grandson were there, and that's really all he needed on his birthday.  I had come simply out of a felt need to show my cousin that she was important to me.  Then I went and did the very opposite thing by completely forgetting about her and running off at the mouth.

I approached her tentatively and apologized to her.  She was very gracious and responded that that's just the way things are at family gatherings when someone's pregnant and she's grown to expect it.  That did not make me feel any better, and it didn't convince me that she wasn't wounded.  But the damage had been done and there was nothing I could do to take it back.  Had my other pregnant sister been there, it might have been a bit different scenario, but she wasn't there.  I was the only walking reminder of my cousin's infertility.

I wish I could say that that incident is my one and only cringeworthy moment.  But I can't. I can't even say that it was my first.

Two weeks prior to that family gathering, I was shopping at a local Natural Grocer's when an acquaintance I hadn't seen in years, who happens to work at that store, recognized me and asked how my husband and I have been.

I was groggy from having had very little sleep and wasn't prepared for a conversation.  I told her we were fine and that my DH was deployed but should be returning early.  When there was an awkward pause, I thought, "What else is new with us that she'd want to know about?" and then I realized most people share news about their pregnancies, so I did.

Technically, there's nothing wrong with sharing that news with people when I haven't seen them in years, but there was something that flitted across her face in a fraction of a second.  But I was tired and wasn't sure I had really seen it.  We parted ways, I finished shopping, paid for the groceries and left the store.  As I drove away, a number of observations flooded my mind and I wondered if those observations were enough confirmation that perhaps she too was infertile.

I was kicking myself by the time I made it home, and praying that I had not wounded her or made her day difficult.  I called her at the store to ask for her e-mail address, and then sent her a long rambling apology e-mail asking her to forgive me if I had caused her pain, not knowing for sure she was even infertile.

She replied several days later, assuring me that all was well and that I hadn't wounded her.

But the fact that I had so easily spouted out the news of my pregnancy without even thinking weighed heavily on my heart.  And then to have followed that incident with the one I described at my cousin's house...I truly never thought that I would be "That Girl."

I have loathed and despised others who have filled that role, wondering how it was possible for someone to be so completely unaware and insensitive, vowing that I would NEVER be that way, if I were ever blessed with a pregnancy.  And yet, here I am.

I pray that God will grant me the grace and discernment to avoid filling that role again.  I pray that He will prevent me from causing others pain as they walk through this journey of infertility.  I pray that I will always be mindful of the pain others may be experiencing that I know all too well.  And may God keep me from ever being "That Girl" again.