Don’t Shush Me!

I was once told by several family members that I shared too much about my struggles with Infertility both here on FB and on the blog I kept while working through the pain of not being able to have a biological child of my own.

What family didn’t know was the internal struggle I kept private for YEARS before and after the one round of IVF we could afford. To this day, I credit my ability to talk (or rather write) about my Infertility journey for the strength I needed to heal my soul.

There is one vivid memory I have of how dark things had gotten before I decided to openly share my story. Hubby & I were headed to Toronto to visit family; coincidentally, it was also the weekend of my birthday. I recall listening to Norah Jones while traveling CDN Hwy 402 on that late summer evening. It’s a beautiful drive at twilight, and the occassional summer thunderstorm on the horizon made the scenery that much more spectacular.

The thing was, as Norah sang about coming away with her into the night, all I could think about was how utterly alone I felt. I didn’t know of anyone else that had been struggling so hard to start a family of their own. And even if I did, it wasn’t as if they would offer any words of support or acknowledge the similar struggles they were / are going through.

In my Filipino culture, having a child to brag (or even complain) about is so ingrained into daily conversation. In fact, most conversations tend to start off with, “What are your kids doing these days?” (after some nice pleasantries, of course). When one doesn’t have children (and you’re young), there is always some joke to be made about giving your parents grandkids or — worse yet, asking if we need lessons.

And that’s it. It’s a joke. Or words of wisdom from well-meaning family / friends which is sorely lacking in empathy. And trust me, when we’ve told them that we’re “trying but it’s not happening right away,” the conversation tends to change quickly or stop all together.

Going back to the Toronto trip … It’s absolutely miserable feeling alone despite being surrounded by those that I knew loved me. In fact there’s a picture floating around there somewhere of me posing in front of my birthday cake. Visibly,  I appeared happy, but if you look at my eyes close enough you’d be able to see the sadness behind them. Every time I see that picture I remember how dark I felt at the time. How I just wanted to end all of the pain I was feeling. To this day, I can’t think of this picture without shedding a few tears. I somehow managed to pull myself through that weekend (with lots of love & support from Hubby, of course) … but I also lived in fear of when another one of these moments would hit.

I was in the midst of another dark time in my life when I decided to start blogging about my journey. The first few entries back then were vague and not very revealing; but then I started to have a little more confidence is telling my story. At first, I had kept the blog private; not telling anyone except a few people here and there. Eventually though, blogging helped me sort through those confusing and tumultuous emotions I was experiencing.

While there are a handful of times I regret going overboard in expressing my sentiment  over certain situations, I’m not (nor will I ever be) remorseful for writing down how I felt and posting it onto my blog. It was during these musings that I was finally able to communicate exactly how I was feeling. More importantly, I learned how to deal and work through the intensity of melancholy that’s in the center of Infertility. In fact I credit writing on my blog with helping me make the decision to let go of the concept that “Family” meant two adults raising human children.

The bonus of publishing my posts? I found friends that felt the same way that I did. That were going through the same issues and emotions that I was. To this day, I still am in touch with the core group of friends I’ve met while blogging.

I don’t fault family & friends for not being able to empathize with Hubby’s & my Infertility journey. I know Infertility is an uncomfortable subject for most people (especially my elder family and those newcomers living in North America).

What I did wish (and still do) is that when someone who is going through Infertility WANTS to talk about their journey, please listen to them. No words or advice is necessary; sometimes knowing that someone out there is willing to hear their story will make them feel less alone.

PS. Here are two videos that inspired this post. The original post is from Refinery 29’s FB page, but it was shared (and liked by me!) by another Infertility friend.

 

 

Marching to the Beat of My Own Drum

This picture was posted on the “Conservative Women’s ROCK” Facebook page.

This … THIS is what bugs me about all the news about the Inauguration and about the Women’s March yesterday.

I believe that everyone has the right to express their own opinions and, for the most part, I am open to all ideas and opinions when one brings up valid points. So what I have to say is my personal opinion and it’s something I wish to express and hopefully clarify.

This isn’t a war about who’s right or who’s wrong. It’s not about what one person did or said to another person. To me, it’s about the ability to have grace and humility before demanding respect.

It’s about being able to evolve into a society where opinions do matter. And –quite frankly, how one approaches expressing their opinion is of extreme importance.

If you express your opinions with “guns out, blazing,” you should expect that any rational human being will respond the same. If you express it thoughtfully, carefully and with consideration to other people’s lives and how it affects them, then yes … expect a good hearty debate with someone who is willing to approach it in the same manner.

Yesterday … whether you believe in what the Women’s March stood for, please be aware that it had NOTHING TO DO WITH WHO WON THE ELECTION OR WHO IS CURRENTLY POTUS. While it was certainly influenced why many people came together, the sole reason for the march can only best be described by their  mission statement:

“We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”

Grace + Humility + Empathy = Respect.

#LoveTrumpsHate

Bad Blogger

IMG_1479Well hello there strangers. I know … it’s been a while and I sincerely hope everyone is doing well in the Land of IF, cities in Between and points Beyond.

There is no excuse for not writing on this blog very much. The truth is, I haven’t had much to say in regards to living child-free (NOT by choice). And anything I’ve had to say about things has really been small snippets on my Facebook page about articles I’ve shared.

You see, unlike 15 years ago when I first started this infertility journey (well, actually, it’s been closer to 20 years, now that I think about it … yikes!), there is a lot more media surrounding IF. Seriously … where was all this support when I needed it?!

Social media aside, I’m just truly grateful that it was through the blogosphere that I met many wonderful people going through this infertility journey with me. Most of us have now resolved our infertility journeys; some managed to have biological children of their own either naturally or by way of IVF (one of them had TWINS!), some of them became adoptive parents, and some even became step-parents. And some of them … well, some sort of combination of all of the above!

As for me, I have pretty much resolved the fact that I will never have biological children of my own for these facts:

  • I am over 40 years old
  • I’m pretty sure I’m going into early menopause
  • Adoption for us is way beyond our financial means
  • I am way too exhausted to think of parenting at my age
  • Being over 40, I cannot fathom having to raise a child now and be close to (or even over) 60 by the time they graduate from high school

 

Unfortunately, these facts don’t stop some well-meaning family members from thinking I’m going to have some sort of miraculous conception. (We won’t even go into our recent trip to the Philippines.)

Monasterio de Santa Clara

Monasterio de Santa Clara (click on picture)

 

So what brings me out of my semi-retirement? A damn movie.

But first let me clarify something. While we may have reached the end of our IF journey, this doesn’t mean that some things can slap us in the face and make us fully aware that we are not the norm … that we are quite different than the rest of everyday society.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned to accept that Hubby & I are on a unique path of our own (just like every other person / couple / family is). I’ve gotten used to answering “No” to when new friends, acquaintances, or other professionals ask us if we have any children. And I’m certainly used to and am very comfortable in explaining why we don’t either. I can stand on my own (without crying, to boot!) when discussing infertility and the emotions that a person goes through while traveling on that journey. I can be rational about debating why adoption isn’t for us. I can even easily ask and converse with others about their children without feeling inferior.

But every once in a while, there’s something that happens that can have me contemplating why we chose this Child-Free-Not-By-Choice life. Or has me feeling, once again, that I’m alone in the world of other adults that are parents … and that I can’t possibly know what it’s like to be one of them.

This time it’s a movie … particularly one that is specifically aimed towards motherhood and all the horrible things that occur during parenting a child.

Okay, I get it. Yes … motherhood isn’t always glamorous. In fact, I’d say the only time everyday parenting looks glamorous is on Facebook or Pinterest or Instagram … or any other social media outlet out there. And that’s only after 5 GAZILLION retakes to make it “just perfect.”

IMG_2318But it’s still something that I can’t fully understand.

Because, for being “over-worked, over-committed and exhausted to the point that [these moms are] about to snap” (directly from the plot summary, BTW)? I will never know what it’s like to feel that way. As a Mom, anyway.

And yet … Well, here’s something for all those moms out there:

Those feelings – while not as “ongoing on a daily basis”-type of way – are what those who have experienced / are experiencing infertility go through on a month-to-month basis.

Nothing hits you straight in the gut with a pregnancy test that doesn’t have that second line … and knowing you’ll have to go through the same treatments (-ie- shots, pills, holistic treatments, all of the above) for yet another month.

I know that I will eventually see this movie in the future (because – C’MON! The same writers as “The Hangover”?!). But next weekend, I’ll likely just chill with my Hubby and our four-legged child.

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PS. If you want know where “I’ve” been in social media lately, check out this Instagram account.

IMG_3547

Taking Back My Space

Microblog_MondaysYes, it’s been awhile. But just got done reading Mel’s post. I’ve been wanting to resurrect this blog for quite some time, so I figured this was my best opportunity to start.

Here’s my first #MicroblogMonday:

Happy Birthday to Dr. Brother … and thanks for making me an Auntie Em once again!

Scan 22

Being Happy …

I saw this quote on Facebook the other day and thought about how perfect it was in relationship to the last post I wrote.

I need to do that. Be happy with my life and where it’s at. 

For the most part, I think I am … I’m lucky to be married to my best friend and that makes all the difference in the world. I have someone I can implicitly trust all my hopes and fears. I have someone who has been with me to h*ll and back with all the curve balls life has thrown me. And he’s still standing next to me. 

So I guess you can say I succeeded in being with someone that makes me happy. Now, what should I do to be that someone that makes me happy? 

I guess it starts with figuring out what makes me unhappy and making a change from there. 

More Than a Woman?

Tired. That’s how I’ve felt this past weekend. I think the 10-hour days are catching up with me and I’m not looking forward to Monday when it will start all over again.

I think it’s time to take some time off. Maybe a scheduled mental health day to regroup myself. On a Monday. Or a Friday. So I can extend my weekend by an extra day.

Oh, who am I kidding? I’m still going to spend the day before returning to work worrying about what I need to do the day I actually return to work. 

I worry too much. Not a surprise for people that know me very well. To others though, especially at work, I guess I put off this vibe that everything is going to be okay. But internally, I’m a nervous wreck.

Why is that?

Hubby seems to think I put too much pressure on myself, that I should learn to ease up on myself. That I should learn to break down projects into manageable tasks. And he’s right, the smart man that I married.

I do put a lot of pressure on myself to be as best that I can be. I guess it goes back to that thought that if I try hard enough, I’ll succeed in anything I do.

And we all know that Infertility taught me that that statement is not always relevant to everything. 

So why am I still living my life like that? I guess I do it in the hopes of being a better person than would be if I had kids. That somehow, I need to make up for being more of a woman because I don’t have kids. 

Does that sound ridiculous? 

I know it does. There are lots of women living child-free by choice that can attest to this. Heck, there are women that have gone through infertility and are now living child-free that can say that they still feel like a whole woman. 

Right now, I’m not one of those women. Which is why I worry too much. And expect more out of myself. And I wish there was a way that I could just be happy with who I am. 

 

Mixed Feelings

Hubby: “You make sure you wake me up before you take the test, okay?”
Me: “Okay, I’ll tell you when I have to go.”
Hubby: “No. Wake me up and tell me you’re going to take the test.”

So that’s what I did this morning at 6:30 am. Woke Hubby up to tell him I couldn’t hold it any longer. That I had to take the test now.

2 minutes later it was all over. We hugged each other and then crawled back into bed.

Hubby: “You okay?”
Me: (pauses) “Yes.”
Hubby: “You sure?”
Me: (pauses again) “Sure.”

But really I wasn’t. Eventually,  I told Hubby the truth. And the truth was that I had mixed feelings about the pregnancy test that I took this morning. 

It was negative. And I had mixed feelings about it being negative.

I was sad, that’s for sure. You see, I’m late with my period by over two weeks and there’s the part of me that was hopeful for a positive test after all these years. 

I won’t lie … I was already planning ahead; thinking about setting up a doctor’s appointment if the test came back positive. I had in my mind when the “maybe baby” would be due. And was deciding if Hubby and I would want to know the sex of the “maybe baby” or let it be a surprise. 

I was feeling hopeful.

Now that we know for sure that I’m not pregnant, I’m disappointed … but on the other hand, I’m also relieved. 

Relieved because I know that I’m 40 and I don’t know if I have the capacity to be a good “older” parent. Let’s face it, we’d be closer to 60 by the time our child would graduate from high school. If we were lucky, in our 70’s by the time our child married. And if we were really lucky, we’d have time to enjoy grandchildren. 

Oh, I know it’s no longer uncommon for women to get pregnant in their 40’s. However, 40 wasn’t the age I was planning to have children. I wanted them more than 15 years ago.

Besides, I’ve been coming to terms with living child-free after infertility. I’ve started to think of Hubby & me living our lives as a Family of Two. What would having a child now do to this new path in life?

I’m feeling other emotions (like good old Catholic guilt), but sadness and relief are the predominant ones. I’m sure that these feelings will fade with time, as everything eventually does. But for now, since it’s still fresh … I’m just going to let me feel what I feel. 

 

Failure = Success?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the post I wrote last week and how failure has shaped my life over the past decade or so. Then my Hubby sent this article to me that talks about how failure can actually turn into success.

I’m not sure how I feel about the article. I mean, I get what the message is; that in order to succeed you have to allow failure into your life. That we can learn from our failures. 

So what have I learned from my failures? Losing a job taught me that nothing in life is ever “stable.” Moving back to Detroit from Chicago after my Dad passed away taught me that guilt is a strong enough motivator. Infertility taught me that not everything that you give 100% into will result in success.

Not necessarily happy things, right? Truth is, failure has taught me to be more wary of people, of situations. The once confident woman that I was in my twenties, has morphed into a 40-year old woman with more self-esteem issues than a teenager. 

What I need to do, as Hubby keeps telling me, is realize that I should let go of these failures and move on. And I need to realize that everything I do won’t necessarily fail; that even little things in life (and work) can be a success. 

I need to believe in myself.

Dark Spaces and Other Things

I went to a dark space this past week. I went back to the land of longing for a child of my own.

That’s a place, while always in the back of my mind, that I haven’t been to in a long time.

It started when I found out that a newer co-worker of mine had triplets. So naturally I asked if this was a surprise to her when she found out she was having triplets. That’s when I found out that she and her husband had done IVF and had succeeded with pregnancy after their second try; a frozen cycle from the remaining embryos from her first try.

D*mn it. I was jealous.

So jealous that I thought of our one failed IVF cycle and the failed ability to even have tried a frozen cycle. Which then had me thinking that if we did succeed with our cycle, our child/children would be 9 years old.

Nine. Years. Old. What a different person I might have become if we were successful.

Maybe I wouldn’t be such a sad person inside. Maybe I wouldn’t feel so anxious all the time. Maybe I wouldn’t be so afraid of failure like I am about everything in my life.

I know. I’m realistic enough to know I could still be the same person I am today, with or without kids. However, I do know that my fear of failure stems from the belief that I grew up with: If you try hard at anything, you will succeed.

Except as hard as Hubby & I tried to conceive, we did not succeed.

Failing at trying to procreate was the first time I ever had to question that belief. The corresponding darkness that followed our failed IVF only allowed me more time to question whether anything I do would only result in failure.

So the dark place I was at this week? It all boiled down to my fear of failure in EVERYTHING I do. From feeling like I’m a failure at work, to feeling like I’m a failure in my personal life.

I’m still a little fragile from this past week … probably will be for a while, if I’m being honest with myself … but I’m trying to be better. Trying to realize that sometimes failures can be opportunities for improvement. And trying to remember that mistakes are really just mis-takes

I Want My Mommy

Earlier this week Hubby & I woke up at an ungodly hour. My mom was flying out to the Philippines and needed a ride to the airport. It being an international flight, she needed to be at the airport at least 3 hours before take-off.

Her flight was at 7:00 am.

Needless to say, Hubby & I got little sleep the night before.

With Hubby staying curbside, I was able to help check my Mom in at the airport and say a proper good-bye before she headed into the security line.

What she said to me in those moments have stuck with me this past week and have made me realize that, as much as I think I’m okay, I’m still not quite okay.

On the way home from the airport, I cried. Cried, because I was already missing my Mom who would be gone for six whole weeks. Cried, because I knew that it was time to make another appointment … one I haven’t had in about six months now.

Cried, because as much of an adult I (supposedly) am, there are still some days that I just want to be a child again and want Mom to tell me that everything is going to be alright.

Things will be alright, I know. Even though they’re not right now. I know this because I have the love and support of a wonderful husband and … even though we don’t get along all the time … my mom.

I miss you, Mom. Hope you’re having a blast in the Philippines.

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