An Open Letter to the Other 50%

Dear People who, four years ago, told us that we should “get over it” and believe that the 2020 election was rigged,

Let me first start off by saying that you now need to eat your own words. An election that has been validated multiple times by various highly respected people / groups … one that has been brought to multiple State Supreme Courts and dismissed was NOT stolen by ANYONE.

I’ll also add that 50% of the voters in the 2016 election did NOT want this incumbent president to represent our nation in the first place. We may have not liked the results, but as good citizens and stewards to our country, we respectfully accepted the results and carried on.

As a Republic Democracy for 245 years (this July), the US has provided its citizens the right to choose their own representatives; ones that will take to Washington DC (and the world) the wants and needs of its constituents. It was one of the core values of our Founding Fathers, and through a democratic process, the US Constitution has added amendments (15 & 19, in fact) to secure the rights for ALL citizens of the United States, whether by race or by gender.

The example you have displayed at the Capitol Building today is completely void of Democracy. In fact, you have interfered in the voting process. This means you have actively defied our Constitution; our moral value as a nation.

You follow the words of a person who aims to make (or keep) America great again; the same person who has stoked the fires of anger & hate for his & his family’s own gain, and incited his followers to protest this 245-year-old voting process. You have stormed the Capitol Building, disgracing our Democracy by taking selfies of yourself smiling while sitting on our US Senators’ desk.

You have disrespectfully walked on the Senate & House floors, pretending to be the Senate / House speakers (yes, I’m talking about you, Arizona QAnon Viking Man).

You have walked around our Capitol in Militia uniforms, also taking selfies in the Capitol Building’s Rotunda.

You have waved many a flag of a nation that has not existed in over 150 years.

You hung an effin’ noose in front of the Capitol Building.

May I ask … is THIS what you think will make America great again? Because, quite frankly … despite our economy and the poor COVID pandemic response, I never thought America had EVER lost being great.

Greatness is in how you handle crisis. Greatness is subscribing to the needs of your audience, whether you agree with them or not. Greatness is how you lead others through the difficult times. Greatness is about the art of compromise.

Greatness is NOT selfish or narcissistic. Greatness isn’t someone who wantonly disregards public opinion. Greatness doesn’t trade science for conspiracy theories or unproven facts. Greatness is NOT a person who strives to divide people, in the name his own personal values. Greatness is not “Me.”

Greatness is “Us.”

A great person should be smart enough to know that leading a Democracy requires the assistance of those who also strive to be the best for themselves and — more importantly, others. Greatness is understanding the concept of Teamwork, rather than subscribing to the practice of autocracy.

Greatness, as a leader in our Government, is a person who wholeheartedly believes in the Constitution & the Bill of Rights / Amendments. Greatness is maintaining what works for our government now. Greatness is updating (as needed) and securing our government … OUR nation for the future.

Greatness is honoring a pledge you have made for our country & flag; one that believes that our Republic is “One Nation under God,* indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for ALL.”

Our nation remains great and will continue to be so as long as we BELIEVE it will. Democracy requires diligence in maintaining these documents and pledges. Democracy requires respecting others, our land, and our government. Democracy requires the ability to compromise.

Despite what you think, your actions today are very much NOT “American.” Unfortunately, your display today has likely solidified what the rest of the world generally thinks of a “typical American:” selfish, brash, and loud. (Yes I’ve been watching too much “Emily in Paris.”)

You may have thought your demonstration outside (and, well inside) the Capitol was a given right in our Constitution; that you were entitled to the “Freedom of Speech.” However, when you actually read the first Bill of Right, it addresses the right to assemble PEACEFULLY.

It stopped being peaceful the minute you stormed the Capitol Building, disrupting our government from upholding the Constitution that they pledged to protect.

What you’ve really done is make a mockery of our government. **

For those of you that went to grade school with me, you’ll recall our 5th grade teacher, Mr. K. who was also our social studies / history teacher. He was SO very proud to be an American, and never failed to remind us that the United States was the best country in the world. Being of feeble 11 years of age, I didn’t fully grasp the importance of the “Cold War” which he always referred to when making such statements. However, what I did grasp was him constantly saying, “If you don’t like it here in America, then you can leave.”

While I have been pretty outspoken about my political beliefs over the past 4 years (well, actually more than 12, but who’s counting?), it may come as a surprise that I still love it here in the US. ***

I’ve been afforded opportunities that I may not have experienced if my parents return to the Philippines, if my parents didn’t utilize those unalienable rights afforded by being a US Citizen.

I’ve been given a stellar education. And despite my gripes about my previous employers, I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get as far as I have in my career.

I owe all of these opportunities – well, first of all, to my parents, but also for the ability and freedom to better myself in this nation. I don’t take for granted the freedoms we have. I believe the purpose of a three-branch government is important to keep the checks and balances in line. I don’t take issues of race, gender, or identity inequality (or any inequality, for that matter) lightly.

I believe that our democracy should a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Frankly, what you have done today has sorely disappointed *this* citizen of the United States. Yet your action have not dampened the pride that I have for this country.

In fact I remain ever hopeful that this is but a dark time in our Democratic nation and that “We the People of the United States” will continue to “form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

Those were the words of our Founding Fathers. Live them. Breathe them. Respect them.

With sincere respect,
A Proud Asian-American Daughter of the United States

(Off soapbox. Peace out!)


* Yes, I realize that there is much controversy surrounding the addition of religion into our Pledge of Allegiance.

** By “government” I’m *not* referring to a specific person or persons; I’m referring to its entity as a WHOLE

*** Despite seriously considering moving to New Zealand, but the pandemic foiled that plan. D’oh!

Secrets of an Infertile

The first time I ever took a home pregnancy test (HPT) was on the morning of first wedding anniversary. Hubby & I had only recently decided that we were ready to start the next phase in our lives together. Plus, Aunt Flo had been missing for over a week by then, so I figured it was time.

I won’t lie … I also thought that the prospect of presenting positive “pee stick” as an anniversary gift would have made our first wedding anniversary together all that more memorable.

But when the test came back negative, I threw the stick away and climbed back into bed to cuddle with Hubby who was still sound asleep. And yes, I was disappointed … but at that time in our lives, Infertility was just a distant diagnosis, which was … in no way, related to me.

I’ve never told anyone this story before because until today, it wasn’t something that I considered very relevant to my life as an “Infertile.”

Hubby had been privy to this story, because later that day he happened upon the open HPT package in the trash and wondered why I took one. But otherwise, no one else in our lives had a clue that we were even “actively trying” at the time.

It was something that Hubby & I, as a young married couple, wanted to keep to ourselves.

*****

It’s only natural that most couples wish to keep their decisions on family-planning a secret. Okay … maybe not so much a secret, but more of a discussion that happens strictly between the couple.

After all, it really should be no one’s business to know what’s going on in a couple’s sex life. Right?

But what happens when love and marriage don’t automatically lead to the proverbial baby carriage? And what if months — nay, years go by without having anything to show but a garbage full of negative pregnancy test?

What if you had spent thousands of dollars for an infertility diagnosis and work-up? And then turned around and spent even more money on trying to “fix” the medical problems so that you could produce a biological child of your own?

Should a couple still keep their family-building plans and the infertility diagnosis a secret?

What if you and your spouse had to continuously be poked by various needles and prodded by various health professionals, month after month, just to determine when the optimal time was to reproduce? To go home and have a romp in the bedroom (stress-free, of course)? To collect a man specimen in the comfort of a sterile clinic? To have to sit nice and pretty in those G*d-awful stirrups? Only to be disappointed month after month …

Would it still be inappropriate for a couple to talk about how infertility has affected their lives?

What if you or your spouse were done pursuing the medical route of infertility and decided to adopt? What if you spent an additional thousands of dollars in order to be scrutinized by adoption agencies, local and federal government officials? Just so these agencies can determine if you were “worthy” enough to be parents?

What if the Birth Mom/Family decided to change their minds at the last minute? Or what if the country you decided to pursue an international adoption decided to close their doors on all adoptions?

Would now be a good time to talk to loved ones about infertility?

And finally, what if you and your spouse thoughtfully and thoroughly considered all your other options to build your family … and after years of disappointment and heartache, decided that living child-free was your best path in life?

Would it be okay for the couple to comfortably discuss this decision with any random stranger who asks if the couple has any kids?

These are difficult questions to answer. I know; as I’ve had to dissect each individual question with a fine-tooth comb. I’ve had to determine how each answer would affect the rest of my life and my relationships with those I’ve felt close to at one time or another.

The truth is, each person … each couple and/or the family & friends that are affected by this couple’s infertility … will have different answers. That’s because each person’s journey through infertility can be different than the person standing next to him or her. Even if they were sitting next to each other at an Infertility Specialist’s office.

*****

I find it sad that society deems “family-building” discussions as a private issue amongst infertile couples.

Huh?! WTF ...

Okay, let me reword that last statement: I find it disappointing that society deems “family building” discussions as inappropriate when it comes to Infertility.

While I do think that there are certain discussions and decisions that should be left private amongst the infertile couple, I do think that other conversations should be okay to discuss with other people … other family members and friends and other infertile couples.

Because if anything, Infertiles can be the worse when it comes to openly talking about their experiences and emotions when it comes to building their family.

There’s an article in SELF Magazine’s August issue that outlines this exact issue.

This article (aptly titled “This Woman Has A Secret”) found that a recent survey indicates that 61% of infertility patients hide their struggle to get pregnant from friends and family.

And seeing that 1 in 8 American couples experience infertility … well, yeah. That’s a lot of people that aren’t talking about the heady emotions that can be associated with the inability to reproduce.

Along with those questions I previously posed, other common concerns that an infertile couple can experience include the fear that their life will be eternally empty. Or the sense that the couple is damaged or broken.

Both amplify the shame already incurred by the couple; as they likely feel different from being different than other “normally reproducing” family and friends.

Both make the couple more embarrassed to talk about these struggles and associated emotions with their loved ones.

*****

It’s a difficult thing … wanting to talk about a person’s (or couple’s) individual journey through infertility. It’s ten-times more difficult, given the shame that’s associated with infertility.

As the SELF article points out, it gets even more exhausting when an infertile couple:

… become slaves of their monthly cycle; often unable to leave town even for a weekend getaway due to daily monitoring for hormone levels and egg counts. When month after month a couple fails to get pregnant, their lives stall and the question of whether or not their family will expand looms over decisions about the car they buy, the house they live in, the clothes they purchase.

And this, along with many other reasons, is why many infertile couples choose to keep their “family-building” struggles a secret. Why they continue with the facade that “family-building” discussions should remain personal, as society dictates.

*****

After years of keeping my struggle a secret … of burying the emotions I’ve felt for so long … I believe that it is extremely important to talk about these issues. And I think it’s important for an individual to find their own outlet or support systems.

Hubby & I became "shadows" of our former self ...

But first and foremost, I think it’s very important to keep an open communication with your Spouse/SO. Because if there is anyone else who should know what you’re going through, it should be the person who is traveling down the infertility journey with you.

For Hubby & I, it’s a path that we took together, hand-in-hand. We made it a point to talk about each of our concerns openly and honestly (yes, even the scary parts) so that we knew where we both were at emotionally. And if one person was even slightly ahead of the other person, we’d make an effort to “wait” until both of us were both “on board” before making any major decisions. There was no pushing or prodding; there was patience and understanding that both of us dealt with our issues in very unique manners.

If anything … that was my saving grace in our journey together. Hubby was my rock — my torch, so to speak, lighting my way through the darkness. And I hope that he can say the same thing for me as well.

*****

As for other support systems outside of the couple … It’s difficult to find support out there. I know; I’ve tried.

I’ve sought support amongst my loved ones; my friends. But it’s honestly hard for them to completely understand what it’s like, unless they’re walking in your shoes, your path.

But after years (and years) of dealing with Infertility, I’ve finally learned to turn this experience around by educating others about my journey. And I did this by debunking statements (like “just relax”) and myths (like “just adopt and you’ll get pregnant”) whenever they would surface in those inevitable conversations.

This is because I believe that the more an Infertile person openly discusses their experiences, the more that the general population will understand and learn to empathize with the Infertility community.

I hope that this is a lesson that other Infertile couples can learn from my own experience: Talk openly about it now, so that others can be more empathetic to the Infertility path.

*****

I’ve also tried to find support in an Infertility Support Group.

For me, that was not my cup of tea. My experience mimicked how another person in the SELF article so aptly stated, “Everyone gets up and tells their success stories. Infertility treatment isn’t always about success.”

But … that may not be the case for every support group. So please … you should still seek out an Infertility support group before passing any judgment. It just may just be the perfect outlet for you.

*****

Finally, (and only after a major catastrophic life event) I tried some individual counseling. And that planted the seed that allowed me to talk about my Infertility and the emotions that came with those struggles.

My advice for an Infertile person trying to find the right therapist? Talk to your Infertility Specialist and ask for a recommendation. If you’re not currently seeing a specialist; call one in your area and ask. Chances are, the Front Desk staff or the RN in the office will be more than willing to give you a recommendation. If not, check out RESOLVE’s website for a list of professionals in the area.

*****

Again, huh?!

There’s one more outlet for support that I want to point out. And this outlet, I must say, has been the most therapeutic for me.

After much encouragement from my therapist, I sought out support from online communities. I started out by reading message boards and eventually sought out personal blogs. From there, I stumbled onto Mel’s list and found an entire blogosphere of people that I suddenly felt I could relate to.

Suddenly I wanted to share my story. I wanted others to know what *I* had gone through in my journey. And, because there wasn’t enough representation from the Asian-American/Filipino-American community, I wanted to let those Infertile individuals/couples know that they weren’t alone.

And, as the Asian-American culture typically simultaneously praises Motherhood and yet frowns upon discussions leading up to Motherhood, *I* wanted to have an outlet for where I can point other family members and friends to read when the inevitable, “What? You don’t want kids?” questions came up.

The support I’ve received from the three years I’ve now been writing on this blog have been overwhelming. Not only have I met the most incredible people who get me (and understand my wacky sense of humor), but I’ve found support in old friends and family that I might never have found any other way.

So yes … if anything, I encourage writing a blog as an outlet for your Infertility issues. I encourage you to write about your struggles, your emotions … your biggest fears and worst nightmares and post it for the world to see. I encourage you to be honest, as well.

But most importantly, I encourage advertising it to your friends and family. Because we all know that keeping secrets from your loved ones (whether big or small) can ultimately be frustrating and tiring for all involved.

So why not let the secret out?

*****

I write this to let other Infertile couples know that they do not have to suffer through these struggles alone.

I write this to encourage other Infertiles to talk about their experiences to others.

And I write this to ensure that those now-parents – those who suffered through Infertility on their way to parenthood – continue to share their struggles of Infertility … regardless of how busy their lives may be, now that they have children.**

I write this to make sure that Infertility no longer remains a secret.

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

Related Posts:

A brief history of Emily’s Infertility Journey

When Emily decided enough was enough

Why Emily blogs for Infertile Asian/Filipino-Americans

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** This was the only beef I had about the SELF article. For all that it said about the importance of “letting the secret out,” the last sentence in the article is what soured me the most:

Working behind the scenes [of supporting the Infertility community] is one option, but [Lisa] says, ‘I’m sure my volunteer efforts will be for schools or parks. Once I have twins, I’ll have a lot less free time.”

Hindsight is always 20/20 ...

Everything Is Kung Fu

When Dr. Bro was about 12 years old, he took up Tae Kwon Do. Part of it was to learn self-defense; another reason was to gain confidence. I’d watch his classes from time to time; fascinated by the discipline needed to practice this martial art.

Of course, a year after he started practicing Tae Kwon Do, the original “Karate Kid” movie came out. It was definitely a movie that both of us had wanted to see. Dr. Bro, because of the reference to learning martial arts. And me, because I wanted to see Ralph Macchio again after seeing him in “The Outsiders“. Of course, both of us just loved the film; as did every 10-14 year old that saw the film with us. It was quite evident, especially during the scenes during the tournament, when every kid cheered for Daniel Larusso to win.

This past Friday, Hubby & I went to an early evening show at the movies; something we haven’t done in awhile since finding myself unemployed. And of course we went to see the new version the “Karate Kid” … not only because we wanted to see how Jackie Chan could fill the role of Pat Morita, but because we were wanted to see how the story would translate now that it was set in China. We were not disappointed.

I must warn you, if you’re looking for a completely different spin on the original movie, you won’t find it here. The story line, from the cute classmate to the bully, down to the some of the sayings “Strike first! Strike hard! No mercy!” are the same. Except with this version, there seems to be some sort of twist to each element we see in the original film.

The first (and obvious) twist to the story is that instead of being taught Karate, Jaden Smith’s character (Dre) is taught Kung Fu. So, as a good friend pointed out … why not call it “The Kung Fu Kid” instead? Well, after a little research I did manage to find out that the film is, indeed called “The Kung Fu Kid” internationally.**

Another twist is in how Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) teaches martial arts to Dre. In the original movie, Mr. Miyagi’s method of teaching Karate ranges from from waxing a car to painting a fence.  This version does not have Dre being Mr. Han’s chore boy. Nope … instead, Mr Han teaches Kung Fu by having Dre take his jacket on and off.

I admit that when initially seeing the whole “Jacket On/Jacket Off” technique (as opposed “Wax On/Wax Off”),  it appeared pretty lame, for lack of better words. But when put into context with the rest of the film, this method of teaching not only taught Dre Kung Fu, but it end up teaching him about respect.

Being a first generation Asian-American, that is the aspect of the film that spoke to me most. It was watching a kid from the new “Western World” try to integrate his life in the old “Eastern World.” There are many moments where we see Dre  act like a typical American teenager; brash and arrogant, unaware of his surroundings. This attitude obviously would not be acceptable in China where tradition and elders (as evident by the multiple scenes  of senior citizens exercising) are revered.

Mr. Han does an excellent job, albeit reluctantly, teaching Dre about the importance of respect in the Eastern World. He does it in the method in which he trains Dre in Kung Fu; because as Mr. Han says:

Kung Fu is in everything we do. It’s in the way we put on a jacket. It’s in how we treat people. Everything is Kung Fu.

In other words (or at least what I get out of it), if you respect everybody … everything in your surroundings … you, too could be a master of Kung Fu. You, too would be able to find balance between mind and body.

What I hope that most kids (and let’s face it, adults as well) get out of this movie is that there needs to be respect for everything; that we must treat people with the same respect that we would want in return. Whether it has to do with other cultures or religions … or with Mother Nature and our own planet … we should find that balance within ourselves.

When reaching the last few minutes in the movie, I couldn’t help but cheer Dre on as he moved through the tournament. And that last scene … otherwise known as “the crane kick” in the original movie? Well, listening to those 10-14 year old kids around us clap and cheer … it reminded me of that day, some 26 years ago, when Dr. Bro and I watched the original.

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

** And while I was at it, I managed to find that there was actually a Philippine TV show called “Kung Fu Kids“. Hmm … talk about coming around full circle!

Infertility Bets On Hold, Part 2

(If you missed Part 1, click here … )

While I’ve pretty much begun to resolve those particular grief issues, there’s still that lack of strength that I feel I need in order to go through the entire adoption process.  Because it takes someone who really has enough strength to climb over the proverbial brick wall getting in the way of having a child. And specifically, I’m talking about all the rules and reg­u­la­tions and inves­ti­ga­tions into your pri­vate lives just to raise a child that is not bio­log­i­cally your own. Quite frankly, I know that I don’t have what it takes to go through that.

Why do I say that? (And Kelly … hopefully, this will help answer the question you posed to me at one time … ) Well first of all, I just know what I’m capable of handling emotionally, and I know that I wouldn’t be able to survive any further disappointment or heartache. Or as my new favorite quote from Pam says:

It got to the point where the potential for more heartbreak was more overwhelming than the glimmer of very small hope.

The second reason I feel as if I have little strength is because I have little confidence that things will come relatively straightforward and simple to us.

Not that I expect adoption to be an easy path. If we did decide to adopt, I have this very strong suspicion that we’d have so many more walls to climb. Give me a chance to explain … and I’d absolutely love to hear what others have to say to contribute to this discussion.

Let’s start off with Domestic Adoption:

  • Hubby & I both Asian American; Filipino American, to be specific.
  • How often do you suppose any Potential Birth Moms (PBM) would look at our dossier and — just by looks alone — think that we’d make great parents when their child will (most likely) not look at all similar to the adoptive couple that they’d hope to raise their child?
  • Or that the PBM might worry that their child would face more barriers having Asian American parents?
  • How often are Asian American babies given up for adoption; especially if the PBM is also Asian or Asian American? Culture dictates that family is important. If the child is not wanted in the immediate family; chances are that there is another family member (aunt, cousin, third uncle twice removed) that is willing to raise the child. Unfortunately, that’s a situation that’s likely never going to happen to us.

Moving onto International Adoption:

  • There are stricter laws and regulations from various countries in effect.
  • Some specific countries, like Russia and Guatemala, have either suspended or have placed holds on any adoptions to the US.
  • Wait time. Even for Filipino adoptions there are certain stipulations on how and when a child can be adopted; when the child can come back to the US with the adopted parents. And quite frankly, I don’t think I can afford the three-year wait in order to adopt a child from my native country.

And finally other, all-encompassing barriers:

  • Age: Let’s face it. Hubby & I are currently pushing 40. And yes, I know that there are couples out there that are raising babies that are much older than us. But there was a reason why Hubby & I started trying to conceive within a year of marriage: I had always seen me as a younger mother; one that wanted to finish having babies before the age of 30. There was a specific reason behind that: my mother and I are exactly 3o years apart in age (sorry Mom!). Growing up (particularly in high school), not only did I deal with a cultural barrier, but I also dealt with a huge generational gap. Both my parents were pre-baby boomer, while I was most definitely a Gen-Xer. Even though after I turned 30, I knew that this was something beyond my control, adopting now — especially as the rules and regs of adoption have gotten more strict — well, it no longer seems prudent for both Hubby & my sake.
  • Energy: Along with age, this is the second biggest concern that I have. And, if I was honest with myself, the flimsiest barrier of all. Because, really this has to do with energy and stamina. It’s one thing to raise a child with the thought in mind that you’ll be young enough to (somewhat) keep up with their needs. It’s quite another thing knowing that I can no longer wake myself up in the morning without hitting the snooze button a dozen times. Would I be able to care for another life if I can barely care for my own? Like I said, flimsy … but I’m just being honest.

I don’t bring up these points to be negative in any way, shape or form. I’m simply stating facts that appear to be the most obvious barriers for our individual case when it comes to adopting a child. And that’s assuming that we would ever go down that route. And, as I said above, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I perceive as barriers.

*****

As it is, I feel that we’ve already played our game of Infertility Roulette. We’ve already placed all the bets we wanted to at this time in our lives. And we lost that bet. With adoption (or h*ll, even if we ever decided to go through IVF again), I want something I can be sure of … something I can count on.

I hesitate using the word “guarantee” … since nothing in life is ever guaranteed, but after more than ten years of fighting the odds and now facing even greater odds against us (age, finances, etc), Hubby & I opted to get out of the betting pool.

And this is why, at least in my eyes, it’s never as simple to “just adopt.” It’s never easy to go through another round of IVF.

This is why Hubby & I have decided to “cut our loss” … or in this case, “cut the strings” … and live child-free after infertility.

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

Related Links:

Cutting The Strings

Infertility Bets On Hold, Part 1

Thoughts on Adoption

Information on Filipino Adoptions

Wiki Info on the Pre-Baby Boom Generation

Wiki Info on Generation X

Identity Labels

Anybody remember the old-school Dymo label-makers? I’m not talking about the fancy electric ones where you can type in whatever you want before printing it up. I’m talking about the ones where you turn the dial to choose the letter and squeeze the handle (as hard as possible) to imprint it on the red or black vinyl tape. And G*d forbid if you misspelled a word and have to start from the beginning.

For some reason I was thinking about that label-maker this past weekend. And really, it started last week when I received a wonderful email from an old High School Friend (HSF) that I hadn’t heard from in years. She had responded via Facebook in regards to the post in which I admittedly found myself questioning my purpose in life.

HSF talked about how, as women, we are always questioning ourselves about what we truly want in life. That we’re always finding a way to label ourselves while simultaneously trying to achieve more than what we can physically and emotionally handle. And that, in the process, we tend to lose perspective of who we really are in the grand scheme of things.

For HSF, it’s a matter of juggling multiple identities. She’s a wife, a daughter, a mother of three (beautiful) children. She’s also a free-lancer, a founding president of one of her alma mater’s alumni groups. Yet as beautiful as her life appears (especially from perusing through Facebook), she admits that she’s still coming to terms with the “Successful Career Woman” label; especially as she’s currently staying at home to with her three young kids.

The point of HSF’s email was not to point out how much different her life was to mine; rather it was simply to point out that regardless of how we view our lives, we only limit ourselves by placing labels on who we are or what we do. And furthermore, why can’t we just enjoy the path that we’re currently on and embrace who we are while traveling down this path?

I must admit, I’m still struggling to deal with the valid points that HSF has brought up. I’m sure it has to do a lot with the many years of believing that “Motherhood” was the end-all be-all for a woman’s livelihood. (I contribute this, as always, to the strong Filipino cultural influence that I identify with.) And, even though I’ve accepted the fact that I can’t have biological children of my own, I still long for something to fill that void that Infertility has robbed me.

Furthermore, with my recent unemployment situation, I feel as though I’ve been stripped yet another label that I’ve identified myself with. That “successful career woman” identity flew out the window the day I found myself surreptitiously without a job.

And really … that’s what this post was trying to explain.

While I’d love to “give up” those labels that I’ve placed on myself, I also must admit that it’s these labels that I’ve come to rely on to “ground” myself, so to speak, when I’ve otherwise felt lost. It’s these labels that help remind me of who *I* am in the face of uncertainty:

  • I’m a Wife.
  • I’m an only Daughter.
  • I’m a Sister to my Brother.
  • I’m a friend.
  • I’m Filipino-American (1st generation).
  • I’m Catholic.
  • I’m a nurse.
  • I’m a writer.
  • I’m infertile.
  • I’m child-free after infertility.

When looking at who I am; what I believe is the center of my core … it’s pretty obvious that there are those identities that I have no control over. These are the identities that have been imprinted on my soul; the ones that I cannot change. The ones that I’ve grown to accept as part of who I am in this life.

Then there are the labels I’ve chosen for myself (Catholic, nurse, writer, friend). Those are the identities that, despite the years of time and investment I put into them, I can readily let go. But do I really want to do that?

The problem, as I see it, is when one of these identities has been lost; especially at a time where I wasn’t ready to a) let go of that identity, or b) accept that identity for what it is.

Take for instance, the part of myself that identifies with being infertile. This was one label I never expected to own. But the fact of the matter is that after one year of trying to conceive (waaaay back when, it seems), we were unable to get pregnant. By definition, infertility is the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after 12 months of trying to conceive. That’s a fact. There’s no way I can change that pat of me; there’s no way I have control over that situation.

But take the part of me that identifies with being child-free after infertility. We tried everything that we could possibly do (within our own capabilities both financially and emotionally) to give ourselves a biological child, but that just never happened. And because we thought long and hard about our other options, Hubby & I chose to accept that living child-free was what was best for me. And believe me … it was not an easy choice to make.

And because, she nails it right on the head … here’s how Pam from Silent Sorority recently described the reason why she and her husband chose the child-free path:

“It got to the point where the potential heartbreak was actually more overwhelming than the glimmer of very small hope.”

In any case, my point is that with our decision to live child-free, I dealt with having to let go of one chosen identity and accept a new chosen identity. I had to let go of that identity of motherhood that I held on for so long. and I had to accept that living without children, despite the incredible longing to have a biological child of our own, was my new identity.

As I said before, the decision to live child-free wasn’t a choice that we wanted to make. It’s not that we didn’t discuss opening our hearts to adoption. Or opening our wallets to more infertility treatments. Simply put, identifying ourselves as living child-free was a choice that we had to make. Hubby & I needed to weigh our options to decide if that the small glimmer of hope was worth the insurmountable heartbreak we’d already been through. Hubby & I needed to make this decision so we (or rather *I*) could maintain my sanity.

Because if I didn’t put that label on me, I’d still be struggling to determine who I was … if I couldn’t be the mother I had always dreamed about.

And of course now … my new identity crisis is to determine what to do with my career. But I will take a page out of HSF’s book and learn to enjoy the journey while I discover what’s next.

How about you, Blog World? What parts of yourself keep you grounded? What labels do you place on yourself? How do you identify yourself?