Filipino-American

The Infertile Down the Road

One of the great things about the Internet is that it makes the world seem a little smaller. It makes the oceans seem less vast. It makes a one-person island seem less lonely.

Please click on image to read about this important week

When I started on my infertility (IF) journey, like most infertiles I didn’t know that I was on the road to “The Land of IF.” I merely thought I was on the path to Mommy-hood. After months — nay, years — of “detours” and “pit stops” I suddenly found myself on the lonely road of infertility.

When I mean “lonely,” it’s meant figuratively. After all, it’s not like I wasn’t surrounded by the 1 in 8 couples affected by a diagnosis of infertility. But since IF is more akin to a “Silent Sorority,” there was little that I could feel comfortable talking face to face with others.

Oh, believe me … I tried attending the local RESOLVE support group … and it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Reflecting back at it now, I’m sure it’s because my self-esteem had been stripped down to nothing by then … and even in a room full of other IFers, I still didn’t feel I could relate to them, let alone contribute to the group. So I never went again.

Then, after reading some online Infertility message boards,  I discovered the blog-o-verse and an entire world of IFers who wrote quite open and honestly about the same sadness and disappointment that I felt. And I was especially drawn to those who expressed the same doubts about themselves, the same lack of self-esteem that I so deeply felt. And, even though I rarely commented on these blog posts, I started to feel less alone.

My Mom gave me the idea to write about my personal journey; although I doubt she thought that I’d write about it on such a public forum. She knew that I loved to write during the years of letter-writing with my cousin, and thought that this might be therapeutic for me.

It wasn’t until after realizing that there was an absence of information about Asian-Americans experiencing infertility that I decided I to blog. Because even though I identified with the other IF bloggers who wrote exactly what I felt, there was this other void that refused to be filled. Specifically, it was the part of me that identified with being a first generation Filipino American going through infertility. And with that in mind, I had hoped to fill that void left in me …  and to also let those other Asian-American IFers out there trying to “save face ” know that they are not alone.

I am forever grateful to the Internet for giving me the opportunity to put my words out there. Writing about being a first generation Catholic Asian-American infertile has been more therapeutic than any local support group or other face-to-face interactions could have been (the exception always being Hubby, of course). And those friends I’ve made over the past three years of blogging? Well, I consider myself lucky to have them — and all the support they’ve given me — in my life.

So thank you, Internet. Thank you for giving me the world.

What IF …

If. Two letters that could be used to express hope or promise. “If only …” Or better yet, “If I could, I would …”

And then there’s IF; both letters in caps. The medical “Alphabet soup”-version of the word “infertility.”

Please click on image to learn more about this week

Somehow, the meaning between these two simple “words” seem worlds apart. Yet they can also go hand in hand with one another. When I think of the word “if”, I think of possibilities; even though it can also mean “a supposition” or “an uncertain outcome.” When I think of IF (as in infertility), I certainly don’t consider infertility in terms of possibilities or futures. No … I immediately think of that “uncertain outcome.”

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For NIAW, Mel over at Stirrup Queens has partnered with RESOLVE to increase the awareness of how Infertility affects everyone. The project, aptly called “Project IF” is something that has become more powerful than even I, an infertile for well over 10 years, could imagine. The first part of this project set out to unite all Infertility Bloggers under one common thread by simply writing a question addressing the biggest “What IF” in regards to an individual’s infertility. The emotion behind it is weighted in more than just gold or platinum. And if you haven’t already gone to visit … please go now.

The second part of Project IF expands on Part 1 by asking the blogger to choose from one of the recurring themes that came from the over 500 “What If’s” and explore that theme on our personal blog. And since I’m a firm believer in the power of words, I felt the need to participate.

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“What if, after years of struggling with the roller coaster of infertility and FINALLY accepting the decision to live child-free, I get pregnant?”

This was the “What IF” I submitted for Part 1 of “Project IF.” I chose to write about how infertility impacted my future. And based on that statement, it would appear that infertility continues to weigh heavily on my future decisions.

In the Filipino culture (like most other cultures), family has always been held in the highest regard. And despite being a well-educated Filipina with a successful career, being a mother is considered the noblest profession for a woman.

As a first generation Filipino-American, there have been many things within my culture that clashed with the very “American” environment I grew up in. But being part of a family, let alone being the matriarch of my own family, was something that I constantly carried with me throughout my childhood and for many years after that. I had dreams of having a large family (larger than two, because *I* always wanted more than one sibling), and of having my parents there to help raise them with some knowledge of our Filipino culture. After all, that was another Filipino consideration; to have grandparents there to pass on the traditions of our culture.

Although I somehow found myself marrying within my culture, it’s no surprise that my Hubby would also share that same love of family; the same dream of wanting to have a brood of children of our own. And along with this dream, we had dreamt of moving out-of-state (Chicago, to be precise); but not before our first-born would be old enough to start school. After all, we wanted both of our parents to enjoy the early childhood stage of their grandchildren; and yet also didn’t want to uproot our children from a school that they were already attending. We had all these plans for our lives that revolved around raising our children.

So it came as a big surprise to us that we weren’t able to conceive. What was worse was the painstakingly long process it took determine why we couldn’t conceive; only to end up with a diagnosis of “Unexplained Infertility.” And because of this struggle, we ended up putting all of our dreams on hold. We put off advances in our careers; we put off moving out-of-state.

Instead, we spent years going to various OB-Gyn and Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) offices in our hometown of Suburban Detroit; spent many lunch hours with various Ultrasound Technicians that I got to know on an “intimate” basis. We spent many hours in line waiting for various prescription drugs to be filled; used many needles poking myself in my belly or thigh, or — worse — rear end. We spent enough of our “retirement” money financing an In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) cycle that gave us three perfect embryos; two which were implanted in me, and one that we “let go” a year later after we knew our chances of defrosting one frozen embryo and financing another IVF cycle were slim to none.

We spent six years of our married lives leading up to our one failed IVF cycle. By that time, I was emotionally and financially spent; I was at my absolute breaking point. That was the first time Hubby & I decided to step away from actively trying to conceive (TTC). Not that I didn’t hope for a miracle every month (only to be let down every month), we just decided to take a break from the IF roller coaster.

Looking back now, that would probably have been the best time for Hubby & I to move on with our other dreams; perhaps look at moving out of Michigan and some place else. But hindsight is always 20/20; and truth be told, I just wasn’t ready to give up my biggest dream of being a mother; the one in which I felt I would finally have a reason to exist … at least that’s what I believed.

So instead Hubby & I continued with our daily lives; me secretly hoping for that “immaculate conception.” And in the fall of 2006 … in the midst of status quo … my emotional foundation was shaken to the core. I received the news that my husband’s sister, who just remarried four months prior, was expecting.

Never mind that before all this TTC-business started, my SIL and I were the best of friends. Never mind that my SIL already had a 10-year old child from her first marriage, who was born the same year that Hubby & I got married. Never mind that I always believed that my oldest child and her son, following in the Filipino tradition of extended family, would be the closest of friends. And certainly, never mind that I had always harbored resentment towards my SIL because I felt she was never there for me, as I felt a best friend should, after the failed IVF cycle. The fact of the matter was that my SIL was pregnant … and I wasn’t.

I’ll be honest and say that I had a complete emotional breakdown with that pregnancy announcement … and it’s not just because my SIL was pregnant. It was because like any “good” Filipina, I had spent the entire “trying to start my own family”-time pushing all those emotions aside. I never gave myself the chance to cry; never gave myself the chance to fully grieve the loss of my babies … even if they were just embryos. Instead I spent the time shoving all these emotions under the rug just so I can, as Asian-Americans call it, “Save Face.”

It was at that time, I finally sought counseling; and it was with this therapist’s encouragement that I decided I would have a heart-to-heart conversation with my SIL. And we did talk rather openly about my feelings. I told her how hard it would be for me to be as excited about her pregnancy as she and the rest of the family was. I even told her that I may not always be up for a conversation about her pregnancy. In fact, I told her that unless I brought up the subject, it meant that I wasn’t ready for baby talk. I came away from that “powwow” with a renewed sense of hope towards our friendship. And I also came away with a sense that I could start healing those emotional wounds that stifled me from moving forward on my Infertility path.

But then less than a week later, the proverbial sh*t hit the fan.

At 20 weeks, my SIL found out that her baby would be born with some congenital anomalies. Despite our recent chat … there was no other recourse but to be available for my SIL during this difficult time. And even though I was pretty uncomfortable about discussing the issues surrounding her pregnancy, I just knew that my SIL needed someone to talk to about her fears and her emotions.

I tried to be there for her as much as I possibly could. And when Liam was born prematurely and passed away four months later, I tried even more. Perhaps it may have not been as much as she wanted me to be. But I can honestly say I tried to give her all my support … as much I emotionally could, anyway.

Two months after Liam’s passing, Hubby & I received a card in the mail. It was a beautiful card expressing how much Hubby & I meant to both my SIL and her husband; especially during the past year. It was also a card to tell us some news that no one else had yet known …  that she and Mr. SIL were expecting again. And while I truly appreciated the manner in which she told us, I can’t say that I was emotionally strong enough to be exuberant about another pregnancy.

If I was honest enough, I would have to admit that I felt as if I just barely survived a “Tour of Duty” in Babyland and was then suddenly and  unexpectedly deployed for another “Tour.” And while I was incredibly happy that SIL was able get a “second chance” (if one could call it that) at having another child with her new husband, I was still trying to survive the Post-Traumatic Stress caused from her first pregnancy and subsequent birth. In a word, during this pregnancy, I was apathetic.

My apathy came across as trying to go back to the “status quo” I was prior to my SIL’s pregnancy with Liam. I was desperately trying to get back to whatever sense of normalcy there was before my world got so turned around. Quite literally, I was frozen and at a dead stop on the road through the Land of Infertility. And because I was still in a state of post-trauma, I didn’t know how to move forward … I didn’t know what to feel.

A week before Kairi was born, I finally felt something stir inside me. And, okay … perhaps it wasn’t the best thing to feel, but at least it was something . What came out was was a volatile anger; one that had been brimming at the surface for months … probably since the events after that heart-to-heart with my SIL during her pregnancy with Liam.

I can now say, without hesitation, that my SIL’s reaction to my post was certainly justified. However, what resulted from that reaction was a powerful blog post that forced me to take stock of everything that had lead me to that point in my life.

And today, I can now say with 100% certainty that it was that post that pushed me just a smidge forward towards finding a resolution to that dream (the one that involved a large family with me as the center) that I was obviously meant to let go. It was that post which forced me to quit putting my life on hold … to look towards a different future.

Since September of 2008, I have started to dream my new future; I’ve began to live that new life. But first, I managed to fulfill one old dream … Hubby & I actually did make it to Chicago and have now been living here for the past 18 months. We moved here for the career opportunities we both put on hold for so long. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say we moved here to put our “past dreams” to rest.

Our new dream? Our new future? Well it’s a future that, after much soul-searching, involves living child-free. It’s a future that also involves refocusing our lives around our relationship as “just husband and wife” … and not as “Mr. & Mrs. Genetic Dead End.”

It also involves the freedom of being able to plan future decisions without the constant need to determine whether it’s the optimal time during the month to conceive; without worrying where our dossier or “Dear Birthparent” profile is in the adoption process.

It allows us to travel together; explore a life together without the constant worry of not knowing if we’ll ever have a child to look out for us when we get older.

It allows us to dream again.

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There was one last piece to Project IF: Part II. Mel had asked us to end our post with a positive “What IF” statement.

The thing is, I could only come up with the same statement I used at the very beginning of this post. And I’d like you to take the time to re-read it again below.

Because despite the apprehensions I would have about rearranging the life I had finally accepted I would live … I would happily rearrange it again, if it meant that I’d be able to bring a life (made out of the love my Hubby & I have for one another) into this world.

“What if, after years of struggling with the roller coaster of infertility and FINALLY accepting the decision to live child-free, I get pregnant?”

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This entry is a contribution to Project IF. Bloggers from the ALI (Adoption, Loss, Infertility) community are writing “What IF” entries for National Infertility Awareness Week, April 24 to May 1, in conjunction with Stirrup Queens and Resolve.

To add your own “What IF” and to read others entries, click here.

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Thoughts on Adoption

Today, an article appeared on the New York Times regarding Russia’s decision to suspend adoptions to the U.S.

More Pics from Kairi's visit

The reason that Russia called for a halt on all adoptions of Russian children by Americans, in my opinion, was justified. I do believe that there needs to be further investigation from both sides of the ocean (or Bering Strait, I suppose).

As one half of an infertile couple, who at one time seriously considered adoption as a method to start our family, what this adoptive mother did was simply outrageous.  And furthermore, her actions have now affected any other potential adoptive parent who have invested much time, money and emotions in adopting a Russian child. This woman effectively shattered many dreams of many people.

Simply put, this breaks my heart.

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Speaking of dreams … During our engagement, Hubby & I had multiple discussions about how our future would be. We dreamed of owning a house big enough for at least 4 kids with a yard big enough for the dog we would own. We dreamed about how great our careers would be and how we would somehow manage to balance work life and home life.

And we dreamed about how incredible it would be to raise our children; how we would help our children find that balance between being American and being Filipino. We would make sure that they could be proud about their heritage and still be able to embrace the environment in which they lived.

Tyler at the Lego Store in Downtown Chicago

After all, Hubby and I were half- and first-generation** Filipino-Americans. We knew, first hand, the struggles of growing up with half our feet steeped in Filipino traditions and the other half finding a way to assimilate into the Western culture. This was especially evident when we were teenagers growing up in the ’80’s.

I mean seriously … Hubby & I have joked around about how we learned about typical American Teenager behavior from watching John Hughes (RIP … ) movies. In reality, that’s  actually not that far from the truth.

But I digress.

Another one of our dreams as an engaged couple looking towards our bright future had always been about adoption. Yes … adoption.

We had always dreamed about opening our hearts and home to other children who might not have been given the same love and opportunities and life that we had. Specifically we looked into adopting internationally, because we wanted to help a child with transitioning into the American culture much like we had while growing up. We wanted these children to embrace their new environment while being proud of where they were born. Much like we were.***  Err … rather are.

However, in that foggy crystal ball version of our future, adoption was something that Hubby & I planned to do after we had children of our own. After we were able to produce offspring that contained both of our DNA.

Kairi loves her Big Brother

Kairi loves her big brother ...

Call us selfish, but we just really wanted to see our genetic traits in a biological child and then be able to raise a child through adoption. This child might not share the same genes as us, but would share the same love and warmth and upbringing as our biological children. And for me personally, it was a chance for me to see Nature vs. Nurture at its best.

Unfortunately we never did get to see that nature part. At all. And if I was a strong enough person, I might have been able to see the nurture part. At least with raising a child.

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I applaud anyone who has sought to adopt as a means to start or add to their family.

It takes an incredibly strong and capable person to be able to put themselves through all the rules and regulations and investigations into your private lives just to raise a child that is not biologically your own. I know this from reading other IFer’s blogs about adoption and from talking to adoptive parents about their own experiences. From going to adoption agencies to gather information on our own.

... And Tyler loves his baby sister

Reading about Russia today also reminds me about other countries such as China and Guatemala that have also placed restrictions on potential adoptive parents from the U.S. And it’s because I know how long most of these individuals have been waiting for their chance to raise an internationally adopted  child. For those who have faced infertility, it’s the chance to raise any child.

And if I had enough strength, adopting internationally would have been my chance in passing a little bit of myself … that bit about being proud of my heritage while embracing the uncharted territories of being a first-generation immigrant … to my adoptive child.

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** Hubby was born in the Philippines and migrated to the U.S. at the age of five; effectively making him a “half-generation” immigrant. Of course, depending on what version of immigrant generations you go with, Hubby & I can be seen as 1.5- and second-generation immigrants. At least that’s what Wiki says … )

*** Well … okay, so I was born in the U.S. … but hopefully you understand what I mean.

The *Other* Look

Vintage Hello Kitty, circa 1976

I was five years old when I got caught shoplifting.

It’s one of those definable moments in life that a person never forgets. And it’s funny that today this memory would bubble to the surface of my mind.

I’m not quite sure what triggered this memory. Perhaps it’s because I’m hanging out at the local Border’s on Michigan Ave again (free WiFi … gotta love it!) Or maybe it’s because I happened to see a little kiosk in front of Macy’s that had stuff similar to the chotskies I stole at the tender age of five.

Anyway, I can remember shopping with my mom at Oakland Mall one Saturday afternoon when the incident happened. It must have been around Easter or Christmas, because all I could remember was having to try on frilly dresses that I had no intention of keeping clean once I wore them. Distracted by the ribbons and laces on third floor of Hudson’s, my Mom left me to my own device around the girls section.

I naturally found my way over to the little Sanrio kiosk located close to the girly accessories. The little Asian girl in me absolutely looooved Hello Kitty and secretly wished she could be Hello Kitty’s twin sister, Mimmy. As Mom continued to be distracted by polyester and rayon (it was the late 70’s at that time … breathable stain-free fabric for kids still hadn’t been invented), I thought about how cool it would be to have this pocket sized colored pencil and paper set complete with Hello Kitty stickers. Because they were so small, I didn’t think twice about putting them in my purple hippo Garanimal pants.

Early 80's Hello Kitty Chotsky. Would have gone good with those mini colored pencils!

And because my Mom just happened to call me at that moment to try on a few dresses, I quite honestly forgot about my new treasure until we got home. Which of course, when I discovered it in my pocket, I immediately went to my bedroom and began to draw with my new mini-colored pencil set.

I probably would have gotten off scott free if my Mom didn’t catch me playing with my new “toy” the next morning before Mass. In which I can remember the shame I immediately felt when she asked me where I got those pencils. Without my Mom having to say any more words, I broke down and sobbed; confessing that I took them from the store the day before.

Now is the time I can tell you about this particular look my Mom would give Dr. Bro and me whenever she was angry. In our teenage years, Dr. Bro and I would call it “The Eyes.”

Yes … Eyes. As in plural. Because she just wouldn’t give us the “stink eye” where one eye would squint while the other eye glared at you intensely with the corresponding eyebrow severely arched in an upward manner. No … my Mom’s look was more like two normally big eyes bulging out to two times its normal size. Both eyebrows would be arched to the extreme while she glared at you as if lasers would shoot from her eyes to burn every fiber of hair on our heads. Needless to say, Dr. Bro and I would run and take cover whenever “The Eyes” would come out.

Probably late 90's version of Hello Kitty

I distinctly remember the look in my Mom’s face when I confessed about stealing the pencil and pad set. Because it wasn’t “The Eyes.” Rather, it was this strange mixture of shock and sadness. As she stood speechless in front of me for a few moments, I suddenly felt smaller than I ever had been in the five short years of my life. I can recall feeling that way because I knew my shoplifting caused her to have that expression … and I hated knowing that I disappointed her so badly. At that moment, I almost wished I would have gotten “The Eyes” instead of that other look.

After she recovered from my confession, I was told to go to my room where I would wait anxiously until she returned. That’s when I got the lecture about stealing, which of course was reinforced by the Seventh Commandment. Then it was off to Mass where I had to pray to God for forgiveness. Afterward, we went straight to the mall where my Mom would make me give back what I stole and tell the store clerk that I was very sorry.

Obviously it was a very good method of learning from one’s mistake, because I’ve never shoplifted again since that incident.

I’ve seen “The Eyes” many times in my life; especially during those high school and college years. But I had never seen that other look since my shoplifting incident. I’ve never seen her disappointed in me as much as she was that Sunday morning.

To me, that is an extremely important thing to remember. Because even during the worst days of my infertility journey, when I felt as if I was as small as that five-year old version of me, she’s never me shown that “Other Look.”

Which, to me, means that even though *I* feel as if I’ve disappointed both her and my Dad by not giving them the grandchildren they so deserve, my Mom isn’t.

Disappointed in me, that is.

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Whew … is Easter here yet?! Oh yes, only 10 more days left of this Lenten Crusade.

Probably my fave Hello Kitty ... a Filipino version! LOL!

Daily Random Act of Kindness: Ugh. Having a hard time remember what good deed I’ve done today. Short of holding elevators for complete strangers and holding doors open for fellow employees, I can’t think of anything significant. Eesh … perhaps I need to make it up tomorrow with a better good deed.

Daily Thought of Gratitude: Not sure if I already said this in the past 30 or so days or this exercise, but I’m thankful for mass transportation. I love that I can get to places without having to drive myself (or have Hubby drive). I love that I can jump on a bus and travel down one end of Michigan Avenue to the other. But another unexpected benefit of mass transit is that I find myself getting more walking time in; it forces me to be active for more than I normally would have been if I was still living in Detroit.

Okay. I’m tired … and I still have another day of work in front of me before the weekend. Think I’m calling it a night!!

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Today, I am Polish-Filipino

If there’s one thing I love about Chicago, it’s the fact that they share a lot of the same traditions as Detroit does. Today just happens to be one of those days.

I had a co-worker back in Michigan that moved from the East Coast. The first February in Detroit, she recalled how she’d be reading the newspaper and would stumble upon this word that she had NO idea how to pronounce.

“Pack-zee? Pass-key?” That’s how she thought the word would sound like. “And what the *heck* is ‘Pazz-ski Day’ anyway?”

My fellow Detroiters and I laughed when we heard that statement. “Poonch-kee,” we corrected her. But really, we couldn’t fault her because … well, unless your Polish, you probably wouldn’t know how to pronounce “Paczki.”

For those of you that aren’t familiar with what a Paczki is, it’s a deep-fried piece of dough that is typically filled with either crème or jelly. Sounds like a regular doughnut, doesn’t it? Except it isn’t … it’s made out of especially rich dough containing eggs, fats, sugars and sometimes milk.  So basically it’s a lot more calories than your typical filled doughnut.

Paczki Day started as a Polish tradition in which a typical Polish-Catholic would make batches and batches of paczki to try to purge any ingredients that might spoil during the Lenten season. And, of course, what better day to get “rid” of all those extra paczki than to make Fat Tuesday the official day for these treats?

This tradition carried over to the US, and in particular the Midwestern states, where there are large communities of Polish-Americans. Detroit, in particular, has Hamtramck; a city of Polish descendents within the city of Detroit. And Chicago, apparently also has a multitude of Polish neighborhoods; which is collectively known as Chicago Polonia.

And why do I know so much of the history of Paczki Day? Well … let’s just say the Catholic Grade School I went to comprised mostly of Polish-Americans. So much that this Filipino-American knew more about pierogi and sauerkraut than the typical non-Polish-American. 

Seriously … our Grade School’s Annual Festival comprised of your typical Midway rides, a beer tent and a Polka contest. (And no … I do  not know how to Polka. But I have been taken around the dance floor a couple times!)  In fact these same co-workers (who helped me tease our East Coast transplant) have all but named me an “Honorary Pole” for knowing a little too much of Polish traditions!

So yes … I just thought I’d bring a little history to y’all non-Polish peeps and any non-Midwesterners. Have a wonderful FAT TUESDAY and a Happy Paczki Day!!

Dancing on the Jetty

I’m actually writing this post on Wednesday night, hoping that I’d be able to get a “head start” on my next daily post. Well, actually I’m already ahead by one day … which probably explains why I’m feeling as if I’m a day off. Sheesh …

Anyhoo … I’m sitting here at the Border’s Bookstore cafe overlooking State Street. Hubby is at a WordPress Meetup group learning how to post YouTube videos on to a WordPress blog. He asked me if I wanted to attend, seeing that I’ve been primarily blogging off WordPress.com for two years now. I obviously begged off, seeing that I have already (countless times) posted videos from YouTube.

Across the street is the Joffrey Tower, which is the home of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago. It’s been actually fun watching the activity on the other side of the street, because I can actually see the ballerinas dancing in the rehearsal rooms.

I’m amazed at the discipline that these dancers have. They look so graceful, yet so incredibly controlled. How do they make it look so easy? Of course you’re looking (or in this case, reading) about a gal who is known to trip on flat pavement.

I admire anyone who is that dedicated to following such a career path. To follow their dreams and believe in their craft. Because seriously, how much do you think ballerinas or other performers make in a year? Other than those superstar performers or actors, I’m sure the income isn’t that extraordinary.

But then that’s the Filipina part of me speaking. The “logical” side. The one who constantly here’s her parent’s voice saying, “How will you be able to make a living on a salary like that?” Which then always makes me second guess if I’m every “good enough” or “talented enough” to sustain daily living with what I might (or might not) make.

Then there’s  American “dreamer” in me … that’s the spirited voice who thinks that it takes guts and dedication to do what you love to do in life. To be brave enough to follow your life’s passion … no matter what the outcome is. It’s the same one that thinks that I can do whatever passion I want to in life and knows that I’d succeed.

Unfortunately, it’s the analytical Filipino mind that tends to win out in the end. It’s the voice that tells me that there’s no way I’d survive on passion alone. It’s the also same one that tells me that I don’t even know what I’m passionate about, so keep doing what I know I’m good at. And even if I did find out what I really want to do in life, what makes me think I’ll ever be “good enough”?

What I need to do is:

  1. Find out what I’m “natural” and “good” at.
  2. Determine if this would be something I could be “passionate about.”
  3. Work it into my daily life, and
  4. Keep at it. Nonstop.

Basically I need to have the same amount of discipline and control that these dancers at the Joffrey Ballet have.

Eesh. This means that somehow I need to find a way to tie these two voices together; to merge the best aspects of both of these thoughts (and cultures). I need the mean-spirited mind to push me not to be satisfied with who I am. And I need the “cheerleader rah-rah-rah” part to keep telling me I can do this; I can move forward in finding something I’d love to do.

Wow. This was an awfully rambling post. I promise a better one … tomorrow.

And just so I can prove to Hubby that I can upload videos from YouTube without having to go to a “class” … here’s a video of the view I had of some practicing ballerinas. If you look reaaallly closely, you can see them dancing on the second floor!

Tied to the Apron

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot of the title of my blog; mostly because of the whole NaBloPoMo theme of “Ties.” After all, what other references are their to apron strings other than being “tied” to one or needing to be cut from one?

But as I mentioned in this page, the purpose of my blog title is in reference to my favorite song and the relationship it had with my longing to have a family of my own. It’s a song that referenced my need to let my “imaginary child” know that he/she would be happy wrapped in my apron strings.

Then there’s the whole use of this song in the movie soundtrack for the John Hughs film, “She’s Having A Baby“. It’s a perfect song for this movie, especially as there is a small bit part in there about the struggles of infertility.

Though what gets me about the use of “Apron Strings” in this movie is that they do not use the original version of the song from the album “Idlewild.” While I understand making the song more “commercially” palatable, I do wish that they would have used the original lyrics to the song.

You see, the movie version uses different lyrics on the first bridge of the song. The movie version lyrics bring on the tone of a woman waiting for the birth of her child. While the original lyrics … well, those are the ones I can relate to most:

Your baby looks just like you when you were young
And he looks at me with eyes that shine
And I wish that he were mine
Then I go home to my
Apron strings; cold and lonely,
For time brings thoughts that only
Will be quiet when someone clings
To my apron strings

These lyrics; they expressed (still express?) the feelings that I have when I see other families with babies … with children of their own. It’s the feeling of wanting … of longing to experience what most other couples, and more specifically, women experience.

And while I’m no longer entrenched in those aching emotions of childlessness, I still have that feeling of wanting to belong. Of not wanting to be so different than others. To get to experience those things in a woman’s life that most women get to share with one another.

Child-free Living is, as Loribeth‘s blog title says is definitely “The Road Less Travelled.” It’s a place where not many people can accept or understand; where the perception is that those people who don’t raise children are purely selfish.

My fave pic of Hubby & our nephew. We were in the midst of IF treatment at the time.

And even amongst those couples who live without children, there is considerable debate surrounding the definition “child-free living.” For some couples, child-free living is defined as the “lack of desire” to have children. While others see it simply as a lifestyle choice. The common factor, however, is that child-free living is a conscious decision to continue a life without children. Now … throw infertility into the mix and there’s even less of a connection to others who may see child-free living strictly as not wanting to have any children.

Sometimes it’s as if I feel that my life is destined to be one in which I am constantly “different” than others. First there’s the whole two-different-worlds, in being a first generation Filipino-American. Then there’s the whole deal of never being able to experience motherhood. And even moreso now, as I begin to live child-free after infertility.**

While I’ve known since November that the title of my blog has since strayed from it’s original purpose, I do feel that the lyrics to my favorite song still ring true. Because now … instead of that longing for a child … I am now longing for the understanding from others that living child-free after infertility was not an easy decision to make. And letting go of these apron strings was/is not such an easy task to do.

So maybe it’s not a matter of “letting go” of these apron strings*. Maybe it’s more of longing for acceptance that my apron strings can be good for other things in my life …

For apron strings can be used for other things
Than what they’re meant for
and you’d be happy wrapped in my
Apron strings

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

EBTG's first studio album ... a classic!

* How do you like my new and improved “About This Blog” blurb? Yep … it was time to change it.

** So here’s a sidebar story … Hubby & I recently started to “branch out” from our Chicago apartment to find groups or events that might be of interest. (About time, it’s been a year!!) When we first started to look for things, we went to this website and looked up local groups. What I was surprised to see was the lack of support for CF Living after IF. But trust me, I found groups for those actively going through IF treatment; and I found staunch “No Kids” groups … but none where I might relate to other women.

Yep … IRL, I must really be all alone. But at least I have all you wonderful folk out there in blog world!

Common Threads

Not quite the "suprised" look I was looking for in my batch of pics ...

Wow. Oh, wow! I woke up to a great suprise this morning.

Well, okay … technically I was at work where I should have been updating all my staff’s databases for 2010* … but yeah. Instead I was tweaking some stuff on my blog.

Which, by the way. Like the new look? I figured it was time to shake it up a little, as it’s been about two years since I’ve changed my look. (Really, I’d love to do my own little design … but yeah, that would mean the cheapskate in me would have to shell out moolah.)

ANYHOO ... As I was saying, I was on my blog do some admin stuff when I noticed a particular person’s <clears throat> Mel <cough> website URL kept popping up on my “Referrers” section. So imagine my suprise when I found out some WONDERFUL person wrote a little ditty about how much my blog inspires them.

Wow. That just totally blew me away. I feel like I should be standing up behind the magic mike stand (you know, the one that disappears once the person is done speaking?) to thank the entire blogoverse for allowing me to write as freely as I do. And specifically to thank everyone for actually reading my words.

Oh, and did I mention this was all done anonymously ?! So … seriously, *THANK YOU* to whomever wrote such beautiful words about me. You honestly don’t know how much it means to me …

The "Stirrups Queen" herself (with the Tiara) along with me, Io and Aunt Becky (left to right) at BlogHer 2009

Anyway, for those of you that aren’t familiar with Mel from Stirrup Queens … she is one of the ALI (Adoption, Loss and Infertility) community’s biggest chieftans. She is *the* person who has managed to organize the lot of us ALI bloggers under one roof … and she’s typically the one who puts the “shout out” to all of us when one of us in need of good support. That’s why it’s perfect that she used to blog under the name “The Town Criers.”

Okay … so yeah, getting sidetracked here again. But I thought it’s very important for those that may stumble onto my site for a variety of reasons to know where to find a comprehensive list of resources for Adoption, Loss and Infertility.

HOWEVER … I *am* finally getting to the point of this post and how it ties (ba-dum-dum) into February’s NaBloPoMo theme. And it’s this …

One of the reasons I started blogging about my Infertility journey was because I felt extremely alone. I felt that there was no one in my immediate surroundings that would even begin to understand what I was going through. Throw in the fact that I’m Filipino-American, where being a mother is seen as a woman’s main purpose in life and where infertility or loss isn’t ever talked about amongst even the closest of close family members … well, yeah. Let’s just say that, other than my Hubby, I didn’t feel as if I had any support AT ALL.

Visiting Kara in La Jolla, Aug 2008

But as I began to peruse through other IF-er’s blogs, I began to feel less alone … less isolated. And stumbling onto Mel’s blogroll? Well yeah, I totally hit the jackpot.

From there I managed to find a bunch of other bloggers that have since become closer to me in the blogoverse than some of my IRL friends. I’m sure that part of the reason is the vast internet space that separates us; which, in turn, allows us to be more open and honest to each other than those who might even live under the same roof.

So how does this relate back to the whole “Ties” theme for NaBloPoMo? It’s simple.

Sometimes there is one common thread that ties one complete stranger to another one. In my world … specifically my Blog World … it’s my infertility. And now, as I travel down a new path … it’s my decision to live with my husband child-free after infertility.

Again … thank you Miss (or Mister?) Anonymous for such lovely words. Sometimes it’s those little suprises in life that keep propelling me forward … especially in my quest to find the next grand adventure in my life.

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

*What can I say? I’m a month behind? And isn’t that the story of my life?!

Patriotic and PO'd

I am so annoyed. And the thing is, I should know better. It’s not like I haven’t been out and about social-networking for years; so I can’t use the excuse that I’m ignorant to internet-iquette.

Except … well, except there are certain things in life that I guess I consider my moral compass in life. And one of them (amongst many others) has always been the ability that we’ve been given as human beings to make our own choices in life; to reason.

So when I start seeing Tweets or Facebook statuses that are intended to show “pride” or elicit some sort of dark humor, but end up sounding more offensive than anything … well, that just makes think, “What the H*LL were you thinking?”

In other words, did someone I *know* consciously make that decision to post something that might … just might be offensive to other people?

Don’t get me wrong … I’m the first one to admit that I’ve done things just as stupid as what I’m complaining about. I’ve even been called out on the carpet for such stupid actions as well. While it’s not the most pleasant feeling in the world, it has taught me the lesson to think what I’m saying before I speak … er, I mean type.

So what exactly am I PO’d about? Well, this is the status that started it all. One post that says …

“WELCOME TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Press 1 for English. Press 2 to disconnect until you learn to speak English. And remember only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you, JESUS CHRIST and the AMERICAN SOLIDER. One died for your soul, the other for your freedom. If you agree and have the guts … copy and paste in your status!”

Yeah. I *personally* felt the sting of that one. On many levels. First there’s the whole “You’re in America, so you should only be speaking English.” Well I hate to burst the bubble here, but I believe that the US is considered a MELTING POT of different nations. You know, a mixture of people from different nations that have come to this nation in order to improve the quality of their lives and their families’ lives?

My parents were one of those people. Both came from the Philippines in search of a better life for themselves; a place where they could best make use of their education and talents and share it with the rest of the people in what has become their new “home.” While my Mom spoke fluent English (a primary language taught in Catholic school in the Philippines), my Dad learned it as a second language. And while I can’t *completely* understand what it’s like to learn English as a second language,  I can certainly empathize … especially since I’m “once-removed” from being born and raised outside the US.

And then there’s the part about having only two defining forces that have ever offered to die for me. I make no bones that I’m Christian; or more specifically, Catholic. I also fully admit that I’m not exactly a “practicing” Catholic; meaning that (much to my Mom’s chagrin) I don’t attend mass weekly. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in God or Christ. Nor does it mean that I don’t hold myself to the basic Golden Rule, of which Christianity (and all other religions) is based.

In reality, I believe in the spirituality of Catholicism. I believe that there is GOOD in the world and that if your actions reflect what you believe in your heart to be good … then that goodness will return to you. But on the flipside, I do believe that BAD exist much in the same way. You reap what you sow. By living *my* life under the premise that I should do unto others as I would want done unto myself … well, that’s one of the reasons I *stop and think* about what I say or do before I act upon them. Would what I do hurt anyone else? What are the consequences of what I’m about to do?

Yeah … so to sprout the whole “Christ died for me” lecture in that Facebook status? Gimme a break. That is *NOT* a very “Christian” thing to do.

And trust me … I won’t go into the whole “American Soldier” bit; other than to say that I am patriotic enough to know that these soldiers have given up their “freedom” to keep America safe and *FREE*. And I’m also patriotic enough to know that it was a choice that they made. ‘Nuff said.

So why am I still riled up even though that Facebook status is now more than a week old? Well, it’s because of this status that was just posted on Monday:

“Shame on you America: the only country where we have homeless without shelter, children going to bed without eating, elderly going without needed meds, and mentally ill without treatment – yet we have a benefit for the people of Haiti on 12 TV stations. 99% of people won’t have the guts to copy and repost this.”

Uh huh. Seriously.

Okay I get that, as a nation, we have homeless people and starving children and a health care system that’s broken for our elderly population / mentally ill population. But there is a reason why we are considered a wealthy country.

And when I mean “wealth,” I’m not strictly speaking about *FINANCIAL* wealth. I’m talking about a nation where we have many of the smartest, most progressive minds in the world. I’m talking about a country that shows their “wealth” by giving *every* individuals the opportunity … the choice, if you will … to improve themselves.

Do you think socialist countries afford every person that ability to better themselves? To move up in their station in life? More importantly, do you think that THIRD WORLD countries, like the Philippines or Haiti, are able to provide those same opportunities  to every citizen?

This is when America shines the most; when we provide *our* resources and services to countries that have been devastated by natural disasters. This is when we show exactly how generous a country we can be.

These moments … they are the moments when the words on our Statue of Liberty shine the brightest:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

As I wrap up this long and rambling politically charged post … let me just remind everyone of one simple fact. Unless we are 100% Native American … we are all “immigrants” to this land. The same soil that has provided our forefathers (and now ourselves) with the ability to forge a new future; the land of opportunity … the land of CHOICES.

So just like our parents / grandparents / great-grandparents, etc who chose to come to the land of freedom (and who may have *NOT* known how to speak English) … choose your destiny (and your words/actions) wisely.

Embracing Me

There’s this song by the Velvet Underground that seems to always unleash this feeling of nostalgia within me. Perhaps it’s because I “discovered” this song during my freshman year in high school (thanks to my BFF at that time who was also fellow music afficianado). Or perhaps it’s because the song has this uniquely haunting music box melody to it. Regardless, “Sunday Morning” was one of those songs I recall rewinding and replaying over and over again on my Walkman.

Woulda made for a cool album cover, eh? 😛

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it before on my blog, but my high school BFF and I had aspirations of becoming incredibly large rock stars. (Yes, laugh all you want … but admit it, that thought probably crossed your minds at one point during your high school existence!) Forget that I wasn’t the best of musicians around … I just wanted to be part of something creative.

In any case, my BFF and I came up with this incredible idea to form a band. Armed with many years of piano lessons behind us, we sought to find other people that might be interested in creating the same type of music that we liked.

We didn’t have to go very far to find a few people. One person in particular (we’ll call him S), ended up becoming a pretty good friend of ours*. And it’s also because of him that we found other like-minded musicians. Although we never went further than playing “cover songs” of other ’80’s alternative bands, we spent a lot of time at each others’ houses pretending to have “band practice.” And it’s during one of those sessions that I learned to play “Sunday Morning.”

The other night, I had the opportunity to “chat” with S on Facebook. We’ve chatted a couple times before in the past, but nothing other than “Wotcha been up to?” This chat came at a really really nice time, though. One that had me contemplating, once again, what my life was going to be like sans children.

I won’t lie. That thought has been weighing heavily on my mind lately. Sure, I’ve officially made the decision to live child-free (finally). Sure, I know that this decision has lifted a great weight off of my shoulders. Truth is, I know that right now my future is limitless.

The thing is, I’ve always envisioned my adult life surrounded with kids. Lots of them. And the Filipina in me, who always put family first, strongly supported that vision. Being a mother and raising children was going to define who I was.

I say this as an absolute because, although I like my career, I’m not passionate about it. Being a mother … it would have been my life’s passion. It would have been  the pinnacle of my existence.

What does my fortune hold?

With the decision to live child-free, I feel I should be finding a new reason for existing. I have this urge to find out what I really should be doing with my life. While I know I should be embracing this opportunity to wipe the proverbial slate clean, I must admit that I’m slightly overwhelmed.

I could continue with my career path and try to remain successful with each new opportunity … but since I already know I’m not passionate about it, would I be happy later in life? At the very least (knock on wood), I know that this future will provide me with the income that Hubby & I need to survive.

I could go back to school and try my hand at something different; forge a new career path into something I know I’d enjoy. But does this guarantee passion? Does it guarantee success?

Or I could go back to that high school dream of becoming an incredibly huge Rock Star. I’ve always wanted to be a kick-a$$ bass player, a-la-Kim Deal.

I told some of this to S while chatting the other day. And although he did suggest I go out and by a bass guitar right away, he did offer me up one piece of advice. In his always calm and gentle manner, he told me that what I do in life (whether it involves being a mother or not ) shouldn’t dictate who I am. I shouldn’t fight against who I am. He said, “Let Emily be Emily.”

So that’s what I’m going to try to do for now. I’m going to let me be me. And maybe, just maybe, my heart and mind will be open enough to find a new passion in life … a new reason for my existence.

* Ironically, he also ended up being my Jr Prom date, while future-Hubby was my HS BFF’s date. How funny is that?

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