Musings

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.

 

 

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. 

 

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.

Out of Practice

I am really having a hard time keeping up with this resolution to write more. I think it’s because I don’t have anything to really “talk” about lately.

I could talk about work, since that’s pretty much what my life revolves around lately. Except I really don’t like to discuss work-related issues on here for fear that it might be found by a co-worker or a potential employer who might not like what I have to say about my current employer. So talking about work is a no-no, for me these days.

I could talk about what we did last weekend, but I fear that you may find it boring and mundane. (Met up with a friend for dinner on Saturday. Saw Les Mis on Sunday.)

I think part of this writing funk is a result of a couple things: 1) I’m sorely out of practice, and 2) I’m just not exposed to a whole lot of happenings around the world. Or at least I haven’t been in touch with the news lately.

Oh, I know about major events like the Newtown shootings. And Oscar nominations. And the big giant squid caught on video in the northern Pacific ocean. But to expand on how I feel about these things brings it back to how out of practice I am in writing.

I’m still hopeful that this exercise of writing at least once a week will get me back into the swing of things. But then I seriously gotta think of topics to write about.

But for now, all I got is a post full of nothing. Kinda like a Seinfeld episode, except not as funny.

Let’s hope next week is better …

End of the Year Wrap-up

Well, I must admit I haven’t done my best in writing on this blog for 2012. Hopefully that will change in the upcoming year.

Yesterday, Hubby & I met up for a late night dinner with one of our good friends. All of us talked about how 2013 was around the corner and how 2012 seemed to fly on by. There was so many things that we all wanted to do more of, but just didn’t have the time. For Hubby & our friend, it was drawing more. For me, it was writing more. So then and there, we made our New Year’s resolution to do the things we wanted to do more of. This, of course, is my lame attempt at trying to write again.

I guess I could start off by telling you what has happened in the last year.

In May, I started a new job that has me grounded in Detroit. No more traveling, no more working at home. While I sometimes miss the traveling part and the “work in my pajamas”-part, I know that being based in an office-setting is much better for my mental health. I realized I needed the constant connection with co-workers that you just don’t get when being an independent worker as I was in the previous position. At least I can say that I tried the “consultant” role and it just wasn’t for me … at least at this time in my life.

This new job is a challenging one. I’m back in a leadership role, this time as a manager of over 4 different areas. There are days that I feel that I’ve got my role down pat. Then there are the days where I feel I’ve lost my grip on reality. It’s at those times that I turn to Hubby to help ground me and keep me from flying off the deep end. He’s good to me like that.

In July, I turned 40 years old. As expected, nothing really changed overnight, except now I’m more acutely aware that I’m just not as spry as I used to be. My SIL (whose birthday is 4 days before mine) and I did celebrate our 40th by throwing ourselves a picnic. Lot’s of family and friends showed up, so it was a great time full of laughter and fun.

At the end of October, I traveled to New York to be a part of my cousin’s “Halloweekend” wedding. She had some pretty cool details that made the wedding goth-like. It also helped that the wedding wasn’t that far from the town of Sleepy Hollow! The highlight of the wedding for me was being able to spend time with my Mom’s side of the family. That, and spending time with my niece, Emilia, whose whole family made it to the wedding so that “Mia” could be a flower girl.

Getting out of New York actually proved to be quite exciting as well. Superstorm Sandy threatened to ruin the bride’s day, but it held off until the next night. However, that did cause a lot of flight cancellations, including ours. This meant we had to drive all the way back to Detroit in a rental car in order to make it to work the next day. Luckily, Delta refunded us our return trip, so we didn’t lose out on too much.

The rest of the year went by pretty fast; Thanksgiving, Dad’s anniversary, Christmas. Mom spent Christmas out in Dallas with Dr. Bro, Dr. SIL and Mia (jealous!). The weekend before Christmas, Bobby & I got to spend time with Dad’s side of the family, especially one of my cousins and her family from London, Ontario. It was a fun Saturday night full of playing with the kids, poker and beer pong with our Uncle.

Yes, you read that right. Beer pong with our Uncle. All I have to say is that, even though the girls lost against the guys … that was probably the most fun I’ve had in a long time! (But, boy did I pay for it the next day … )

And now it’s almost New Year’s Day. I can’t believe the year has gone by so quickly. As I said, my New Year’s resolution is to write more, and I’m hoping that the weekends give me enough time to write what I want to write. And not sound as lame as I do right now. Practice makes perfect, right?

Missing Dad

It’s been a busy week, otherwise I would have written much sooner. Especially since the 2nd anniversary of my Dad’s passing was this past Monday.

I would have thought that going through the first year anniversary would have made this year a little more bearable, but it turns out I was wrong. It was just as hard to get through the day this year as it was last year. What made it worse was that I had to work, which made concentrating on things a little difficult. (Reminder to self: Take next year’s anniversary off.)

I still miss my Dad. Every single day. But bring an anniversary into the mix and it makes it more emotional. I wish I could still hear his voice, his laughter. I wish I could still get those silly voice mails he used to leave on my phone. I wish I could talk sports with him and commiserate with him about the NHL lockout. I wish we could talk about the new James Bond movie and whether he liked it or not. I just wish he was still here with us.

But alas, he’s not. He’s up above watching us all and hopefully protecting us. And maybe — just maybe — he’s visiting his grand-daughter in Texas and making here laugh and smile as only my Dad could do.

I love you, Dad. And I miss you ever so much.

Thirty Days of Thanks, Day Twenty

Spent part of my day outside today. That is, after spending most of it indoors at work. But at least I got to leave in the early afternoon.

My Mom and I went to place a grave blanket on my Dad’s grave this afternoon. We bought a bare blanket and spent some time decorating it with ribbons and bows. This is the first time we decided to decorate it ourselves and we actually had a fun time doing it. We did a fine job, if I do say so myself!

Afterwards, we went out for an early dinner and had some nice conversation. Overall, it was a great afternoon.

*******

So I’m thinking that Mom & I should make it an annual thing … something we can do together. Because there’s not much we do together.

It’s not that we don’t get along … it’s just that we don’t share a lot of the same interests or find a lot of things in common.

I wish we could … find things more in common. Which is strange to say, since she is my mother. We should have tons of things in common. But we don’t.

It’s one of those things that I shouldn’t do … but I blame part of it on the fact that I don’t have children.

(Yes, I’m bringing out the “Infertility Card.”)

We’ve never really had much in common, even growing up. But I always thought that once I had a baby, I’d be able to turn to my Mom for some “I don’t know what the h*ll I’m doing”-bonding.

And even if we didn’t always see eye to eye, I would put our differences aside if my kids wanted to spend time with their “Lola.”

But since the kids/grandkids thing isn’t going to happen, I want to find some way to bond with my Mom; to connect with her.

So maybe it won’t be bonding over what latest funny thing “Johnny” just did. Maybe it’ll have to be bonding over what we’ve lost together … her, a husband; me, a dad.

What am I grateful for today? The time spent with Mom, bonding over my Dad.

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