Sisterhood

Wanted: Child-Free Infertility Support

I wasn’t planning on posting anything on my blog today; didn’t have anything scheduled to post. In fact, I had other plans to work on another writing project I’ve been working on.

But then I saw something on my Facebook newsfeed in response to a RESOLVE posting. And, well I just had the need to address it on my little corner of the world.

You see, I subscribe to RESOLVE’s fan page so that I can get the latest infertility news that they post on Facebook. It’s been useful in reminding me to vote for my favorite infertility book and my favorite “What If” post from NIAW 2010. And it tends to post articles from their website about various topics dealing with infertility.

Since I’ve subscribed to RESOLVE’s page, I had seen multiple articles in regards to treatment options for Infertility ranging from IUI to IVF; donor eggs/sperm, surrogacy. But never had I seen anything about child-free living … until today.

.

You *bet* I "like" this!!

.

Which of course, I immediately “liked.”

Of course, that was swiftly followed by the first commenter.

.

Name erased to "protect the un-informed" ...

.

<sigh>

Sometimes people don’t get it. And what’s sad is that sometimes it’s people within our own Infertility Community.

As I’ve mentioned before, there are reasons why child-free living is right for Hubby & me.  We have deliberately and carefully thought through our other options, including adoption.

It’s so easy for everyone to say “just adopt” when there are thousands of hurdles (both tiny and large) to overcome. It’s financial. It’s emotional. It’s stressful.

I can tell you for myself that I could easily open my heart to a child; easily let a child into my life. But knowing the heartache I’ve experienced from infertility, I just don’t know how much more my mind and body … and quite frankly, my spirit can handle. It’s already been shattered to pieces and glued back together many times over.

It’s a matter of how many more times do I want to put my hand in a pot of boiling water and not know if my hand will be able to grasp onto something … or if I’ll come up empty-handed and burned yet once again.

As if the infertility diagnosis isn’t difficult enough, we’re faced with others who constantly feel as if having children by “whatever means necessary” is more important than simply moving past something that in my heart, I’ve already grieved. It’s like pulling a band-aid off when the wound is just about healed; making it seem to the infertile couple … that has invested a lot of time and energy (not to mention money) we spent on having children … was all for naught.

.

Even Ellie & Carl from "UP" decided to live Child-Free after Infertility ...

.

I just find it frustrating that even amongst our own Infertility community that there’s a lack of support for those couples trying to decide if a Child-free life is the right choice for them. It’s as if it’s taboo to speak of moving on with your life sans-children.

Even in the RESOLVE Infertility Support Community boards, there are only two communities of which you can choose. One is “Finding a Resolution for Infertility” and the other is “Living After an Infertility Resolution.”

Now when I signed up, I logically chose the latter group. After all, I had found my resolution to live child-free and I wanted to find others that came to that decision as well. Except, well … except when I started to see the message boards, I didn’t spot one single discussion about child-free living after Infertility.

So, okay … then I went to the “Finding a Resolution” community; thinking maybe there might be some discussion about making the decision to live child-free. Nope … struck out there, too.

What frustrates me is that I’ve already felt “different” than the general population by not being able to conceive a child; be a woman in all sense of the world … be able to procreate.** Now that Hubby & I have chosen a less traditional path … it seems as if the pool of couples out there, that are willing to talk or write about this chosen path is much, much smaller. And maybe they are out there in droves, but infertility is no longer the primary focus of their lives.

Maybe I’ll be there at some stage of my life, but right now I’m not. And right now it would be really great to find some other support out there to get through those moments. You know … the ones where I begin to question that decision again? The times where I feel pressured by others to “keep on trying” or “just adopt”?

Yeah, it’d be really good to have that support. In droves. Just like the rest of the general Infertility Community. The same community that helped me feel less isolated when I otherwise felt alone.

And hey … if you stumbled onto this post and are living Child-Free After Infertility and find yourself wanting additional support  out there*** … well, consider this blog or my Facebook page a place where you can hang your hat.

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

** And yes, I’m aware that being a woman is not limited to whether or not I can bear children. I’m just using this statement to elicit an example.

*** Because there are resources out there; like Pam’s Silent Sorority site and, in particular her blog, A Fresh Start.

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

Related Links:

RESOLVE’s Living Childfree Article

RESOLVE’s Infertility Support Community

Emily’s post about making the decision to live Child-free

Emily’s Thoughts on Adoption

Emily’s Reasons for Living Child-Free After Infertility

Emily’s List of Child-Free After Infertility Bloggers

Emily’s Facebook Page

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?!

Block-Head

July had been a pretty busy month; and now, here we are in August and I feel as if I haven’t accomplished much lately. And when I mean “accomplish,” I mean sitting down and feeling satisfied that I’ve produced something that would be worth writing about … let alone have others read.

Lego Boy and DS Boy (with their parents) on their first El ride

Lego Boy and DS Boy (with their parents) on their first El ride

I’ve started many a posts over the past couple of weeks; all in an attempt to at least write. Except they never made it past the first few paragraphs because … well, I’ve been just plain exhausted.

Oh, who the h*ll am I kidding?! I’ve got major writer’s block and I’m not sure how to solve it other than rambling endlessly of seemingly trivial things.

Like how for Hubby’s birthday on the 19th, we got new iPhones. (So. Frickin. Cool!!)

Or how work had sucked royally from the end of June until about midway through July (when my manager took a two week vacation).

Or even how excited I was to meet Alexa and Mel. And Aunt Becky and Io. (BlogHer Chicago, bay-beh!)

The Mysterious Io and Aunt Becky

The Mysterious Io and Aunt Becky

Or how much frickin’ fun Hubby and I had when his Aunt and Uncle along with three of his younger cousins (which included future “Lego Engineer“) came to visit. (Wii Rockband + Lake Michigan Beach = Tons o’ Fun)

Nope. Got nothin’ in this brain of mine that I’ve felt have been in depth or insightful. Not that I haven’t had those thoughts … I just can’t seem to get them down on paper — er, on my laptop.

At the very least, I wanted to share some pictures from my meet-up with some awesome bloggie friends from Blogher Chicago. (Un)fortunately, I didn’t get a chance to actually attend the conference. But seeing that it was literally being held across the Chicago River (just one short jaunt across the Columbus Drive bridge) from where I work, I had to at least try to meet up with these women who have provided me with such incredible emotional support over the past three years.

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

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

Unfortunately, as Hubby’s been slammed with work lately, he was not able to Photoshop us into Super-Hot Uber babes. (Sorry, chicas … but we’re all beautiful anyway!)

Io with Mel's Book. And a Bobble-head Robert Osbourne.

Io with Mel's Book. And a Bobble-head Robert Osbourne.

Anyhoo … I just wanted to, at the very least, refresh my blog for now. Well, at least until inspiration strikes, anyway.

Oh, and to wish the wonderful Io a most excellent birthday. Here’s hoping you get to spend more time with A. instead of Robert Osbourne.

But seriously peeps … anyone got any good cures for Writer’s Block?

NIAW 2009, Pt V

(Hellooo … Part Five of a six-day series to celebrate NIAW. I’d say it’s because I “planned” it that way … but the truth is, the series started out as one extremely looong post. To start at the beginning, click here.)

273First, let me pose this question. Do you remember that childhood rhyme that starts off with a boy and a girl “sitting in a tree / K-I-S-S-I-N-G”? Well, if you do, you’ll remember that it continues on to falling in love with the next step being marriage. It finally concludes with this particular “couple’s” child in a baby carriage.

The reason I bring this up is because this “path” in life is something that is taught to us at a very early age. A path that “society” expects every person to follow. It’s also this type of rhyme that often has little girls already imagining falling in love and planning their “dream” wedding. And that the next “obvious” milestone in life is all about having a baby.

However, the reality is this: As much as the majority of American society look down upon it … or simply “ignore” it … love (as in “couple” love) is not always about a boy and a girl.  Furthermore the US Vital statistics state that 51 out of 1000 live births in 2006 were to unmarried women between the ages of 15 to 44.* So much for marriage before the baby carriage.

The truth is that every person’s life takes a different path. And sometimes a person’s life doesn’t follow what society considers as “normal.” But because such thinking is ingrained into the general population at a very early age, anything that doesn’t follow the customary flow is considered unorthodox. The unfamiliarity of any person deviating from this path brings about awkwardness amongst the rest of his/her surrounding company.

And how does all this pertain to infertility and loss of contact amongst the rest of society? Well, when the general public considers the concept of a “nuclear family” (a couple comprised of partners of the opposite sex and their children all living in the same household) the “norm” … it makes it quite difficult for the infertile couple to “fit in.”

Adding on to that last statement, modern society today has obviously placed an emphasis on family and children. When everything from advertising and marketing to politics involve the importance of that “nuclear family”, how can you not find yourself involved in a conversation surrounding children?

Eventually when others find out that your married with no children, the first reaction is typically “Why?” Which is then followed closely by “Isn’t your biological clock ticking?” To me, this reaction is society’s way of trying to “include” you in a conversation about children and how important it is to have them.

For those experiencing infertility … it’s akin to “preaching to the choir” … believe me, we know how important children are. We wouldn’t be going through all the work-up, testing and heartbreak if we didn’t comprehend the importance of having children.

And for those of you brave enough to share with society your experiences with infertility, I’ll bet that the most common reaction of those “fertile” people is to redirect the conversation … quite frankly out of pure awkwardness of not knowing how to respond. In turn this action, whether intended or not, effectively separates you from that particular social connection. Because (and be truthful, my fertile friends …), how many other conversations can one have with you that doesn’t somehow develop into something related to their child? Especially since their lives (rightfully) revolve around their children and their needs.

This loss of connection amongst other couples, whether intentional or not, is lonely. It’s difficult to go through all the emotions of infertility by itself; however, adding the element of isolation creates gargantuan roadblocks when seeking even a little bit of support.

Let me use this as an example. For my “fertile friends” out there … when you started “planning” your family, was this topic something that you discussed with anyone and everyone? Chances are, you’ve answered this with a “No.”

That’s because “polite society” dictates that these topics are best discussed at home. Behind closed doors. I mean, really … as crude as today’s society can be … family planning is still considered a private affair.

Now put that in context with a couple experiencing infertility. And add to that the pressure that society places on every human being to procreate. How would you try to find support for an issue that is considered by society as both private and paramount?

Because of the privacy of such a topic, the average person is simply not equipped to discuss such “sensitive” issues such as infertility. Nor would they be able to understand some of the reasons behind their infertile friends’ behaviors (avoiding baby showers, for instance … or the lack of excitement about any pregnancy news). And because of that, the average person wouldn’t feel comfortable in providing any support to a friend traveling through infertility.

This is when learning about what kind of support you can provide to a friend becomes important. This is when it’s essential to bust the many myths you might have about infertility; to know what might help your infertile friend feel less uncomfortable about discussing such a sensitive topic. This is when understanding infertility and its effects on a person’s daily life is crucial.

Because ultimately … and I’m not just referring to infertility here … it’s often the misunderstanding of such matters that drives the wedge between what society deems as “normal” and “abnormal.”

(It concludes. Tomorrow.)

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

* Heh. Apparently, the latest statistics for 2007 are even more staggering!

NIAW 2009, Pt IV

(This is the fourth installment of a six-day series to celebrate NIAW. I’d say it’s because I “planned” it that way … but the truth is, the series started out as one extremely looong post. To start at the beginning, click here.)

273Finally there’s one last loss that those experiencing infertility may or may not have experienced in their unique journeys. It’s a loss particularly felt by those infertile couples/individuals who have decided to forgo medical treatment all together. These couples could simply be “in limbo,” deciding whether or not going through the grueling adoption process is their next step. Or they could have decided on the “child-free” path of life.

And while on this discussion, I must state that there is a difference between being a “childless” couple and “child-free” couple. Being a couple that is “child-free” indicates a methodical decision to live a life without children. It’s a choice that this couple made, for their own personal reasons, to remain a “family” of two. I’m sure that individually, each one has their reason, but the point is that there was choice in the matter.

However, living a “childless” life is simply a path in life that was given to them. It’s a path that was reluctantly forced upon them. “Childless” living may not have been the life these couples imagined when planning their future together, but it’s unfortunately the twist of fate that has taken them on their childless journey.

An ideal “childless” course … well, it would end up with the ability for any infertile to miraculously become pregnant … but that’s not what I’m getting at. (Besides, at this point in my life, it very well may be an “immaculate conception.”) In an ideal “childless” course, I would hope that a person would be able to progress from perceiving their life as “childless” to being able to live”child-free.” Because then this person (or a couple) would consciously and deliberately be making that choice to live “child-free.”

But wow … how I’ve digressed. So going back to the losses experienced with “childless” living … this last loss is one that not many like to discuss. But because this is my blog and it’s a loss that I’ve experienced, I will forge through this and write about it. And what I say isn’t meant to be received by the readers as a method to elicit sympathy or empathy. It isn’t meant to sound bitter or angry. It’s simply a fact.

And the fact is this: Couples experiencing infertility, particularly women, feel a loss of connection amongst other couples or women that have achieved pregnancy and ultimately a family. While I admit, part of that loss can be attributed to that bit of envy an infertile is *entitled* to feel. However, the loss of connection has more to do with the inability to be part of a lifestyle that is “natural” in every day society.

Let me explain this a little more.

(Tomorrow, of course … )


Two Dolla' No Holla'

8bt“Two Dollars! I want my two dollars!”

I love that movie. “Better Off Dead” is one of those classic John Cusa.ck films from the ‘80’s that remind me of many-a-slumber parties. (You know, back when the other girls were fixing their hair and putting on make-up while I sat in my sleeping bag clearly just watching rental video after rental video …) I loved the Asian guys that pretended to be that sportscaster from Wide World O’Sports (hey, it’s St. Paddy’s Day … gotta get my O’ on. 🙂 ). And I love how Lane’s mom tried to cook her “Fraunch” dinner for the cute little exchange student that Lane should have noticed much sooner. Oh, and I loved the fact that they used a little Howa.rd Jo.nes on their soundtrack as well.

In any case, my mind sometimes (oh, who am I kidding … always) works in strange “tangential thinking” ways. I started off by thinking, “Two Years, Wow!” and obviously ended up thinking of a newspaper boy on a bike trying to collect his money.

G*d … does anyone else remember the days of neighborhood kids being the newspaper deliverer and collector of payments?! Now it’s always an adult that pulls up in a car … chucks the paper out their car window where one hopes it lands on the doorstep … and then it’s the newspaper that actually hounds you by phone for their twenty dollars or more.

Oh geez … see what I mean? Tangential thinking.

See the whole point of this post was to reflect how it’s been two years today since I started this blog. And what started out as wanting to express something in a journal entry somehow ended up here in the blogiverse.

2yrI remember clearly sitting in a café in A2 while Hubby and his BIL (my SIL’s Hubby of less than a year at the time) went off to do their comic/gaming thing. I was still struggling with the news of my SIL’s pregnancy and found myself slowly losing grip on my sanity. I knew, after a few months of counseling, that I had to find a way to deal with all these repressed emotions. Except besides this counselor and my husband, I didn’t know anyone else I could talk to about these feelings of anger and jealousy … and the subsequent guilt that always seemed to follow those emotions.

I felt that somehow no one else could understand what I was going through. I believed that everyone I had previously talked to about these things thought I was nuts to be “obsessing” about how unfair it was that I couldn’t produce a child. And I remember thinking how it seemed as if everyone was moving forward in their lives; starting their families, achieving new milestones, etc … all while Hubby & I remained left behind, unable to move forward.

It didn’t help that March was an anniversary month for Hubby and me. It would be the month that so many years ago, we received the news of our one and only failed IVF attempt. And for the life of me, today I can’t even recall the number of years it’s been since then. (What does that say about where I’m at today?!) But two years ago, those emotions … that feeling of lost was still as deep and painful as it was when we first received that devastating news.

In a single sentence … two years ago today, I was a wreck. And writing about how I felt seemed to be the only way to articulate such complicated emotions. And so hence, Apron Strings for Emily was born.

So where am I at today? Well … writing about my journey has certainly had some impact on my life. Both good and bad … and sometimes just downright ugly.

gobaugTHE UGLY: My relationship, though better since moving, is still a bit strained with my SIL. The distance has definitely proved to be a good thing though. But this, of course, is at the sacrifice of not being able to see my nephew and my 6 month old niece as often as I’d like. Despite all this, my instincts (which tend to be spot on quite often) tell me that all this heartbreak will eventually pass in time. Perhaps one day our lives will once again be back “in sync” with one another like it was so many eons ago. And perhaps it won’t. But either way, only time will help mend all the broken layers of skin that this deep deep wound (as in “Stage IV Decubitus Ulcer”) has caused.

In any case, we’ll be seeing them next month for sure though … as they make the trip to visit us in our new digs. And I seriously can’t wait!!

THE BAD: Uhm … the obvious one is that Hubby and I are still without kids of our own. This also means that I haven’t been able to provide grandchildren to our parents, nieces or nephews to our siblings, or cousins to our nephew and niece. It still eats at me … at least once a month, during those incredible waves of emotions I get (Thank you, wacky hormones!) …but at least it isn’t every day like it was for years and years (and years and years).

THE GOOD: I’ve found out that, contrary to my psychotic (as opposed to psychic) beliefs, I am not necessarily alone in this infertility journey. I’ve found the incredibly wonderful and much needed support I’ve been looking forthanks to all of you readers and commenters.

Also, I’ve finally decided (just recently within the past 6 months) that my life no longer has to revolve around my inability to have children of my own and have decided to focus on other parts of my life. This means I can finally move onto deciding whether adoption should be our next step. OR if accepting child-free living is the path to take.

goalBut the best part of this point in my life is this: After years and years of holding all my anger and sadness inside, I’ve finally found my voice … and the medium in which to express this voice. For someone who has been used to (and quite frankly brought up to) stifling any bad feelings aside, well that’s … Just. Simply. Incredible.

And just like a yearly “work performance” eval … not only do I have to summarize all that has happened in the past year … I should also be thinking towards the coming year. SO … what exactly are my goals for the next year?

  • Work on above relationship with SIL. I’m still thinking time and distance for now is a good thing. Perhaps my thoughts will change over the course of the year.
    .
  • Continue to more forward. I need to remember to take steps by putting one foot in front of the other, and make an effort not to take any steps back. I need to build a momentum to keep me moving in a positive direction … whatever direction that might be. (Adoption? Child-free living? Focus on career and ultimate dream of moving out to the west coast?) But I do need to remember to keep moving, otherwise I could find myself stuck in the present (or the past) and in another “rut.”
    .
  • Leave the past in the past. This specifically means that I need to focus on not looking back at the negative. And if I do look back, it’s only to realize how much stronger I am because of what I’ve been through.
    .
  • In that same sense, I need to not concentrate on any negative thoughts. Focusing on any negativity is going to get me into those “What if?” situations that will also keep me in that same “rut.”
    .
  • Continue to blog. This … this is my (free) therapy. It’s one of the few ways I can openly and honestly talk about how I’m feeling. And it’s a way for me to work through these complicated emotions of anger and loss. Otherwise, I’d be back to where I started. And as I look back on my very first post and realize how much I talked almost all in “riddles” and metaphors … and how I couldn’t even write the word “Infertility” in that first post … It’s then that I realize just how far I’ve come.

voiceAnd finally, before I wrap up this extremely long post, I want to thank all of you for allowing me to work (and continue to work) through all of my concerns. And thank you for faithfully reading all about them.

Because, really? What’s the point of finding my voice if I didn’t have you … my readers, my friends and my family … to listen to (or in this case, read about) it?

Oh, and because today is St. Patty’s Day … I also wish all of you the Luck O’ The Irish!!

luckee

Everything's The Same …

… But different.

Yes, I know that things are “physically” different lately … especially as to my actual location these days. Lots of new things to discover, lots of new routines to learn. For instance, I’m still trying to figure out exactly what time I need to leave our place in order to catch the train to make it to work on time. (And notice I said “place” and not “home“!) Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned is that there *is* a difference when leaving 15 minutes earlier or later from the previous day.

Anyhoo …

Hubby and I realized around Christmas that this year would be his 20th high school reunion. Which meant that next year would be mine. While I know Hubby will most likely not go to his, I’m still on the fence as to whether or not I would want to go to mine. That is … if we even have one. Because, quite frankly … we never had a 15 year one (which most other graduating classes from my high school have had one). And also because finding people I graduated with on Facebook is much easier to do than I ever thought. Plus, going through social network websites like that afford you the opportunity to only contact those people that you genuinely want to catch up with.

I’ve been rather lucky. My first golden contact happened almost 10 years ago, when a good friend (let’s call her E) from high school contacted me through classmates-dot-com. From her, I managed to get in touch with yet another one of our good friends, G. And while we all live in different parts of the US, we have managed to keep in touch these past 10 years, seeing each other separately at various times. There has only been one opportunity for the three of us to gather together one time in all those years … but in true “girlfriend fashion,” it was  a “slumber party!” And no, there were no “light-as-a-feather” seances or incidents of frozen of underpants. It was just simply good ole “sit-in-front-of-the-TV and eat chocolate” girlfriend fun.

Last Wednesday night, I received a phone call from G. She has been a rock for me these past few years; especially over the past two years. And even though we might not talk on the phone or email as often as we’d like, she had this knack for sending snail mail at the times I needed it most. Now, whether that was intentional … I’ll never know. But her words always managed to soothe me; remind me that she was there for me when I needed her, even if that wasn’t physically written in the letter.

In any case, G’s phone call that night was to deliver some news. And yes, it was that news; the news that she was pregnant. And not only was she pregnant, but she was more than 7 months along and due at the end of March. She didn’t tell me sooner, she told me in our conversation, because she knew that I was not in the best shape emotionally at the time she found out for herself.

I honestly could not be anything more than excited for G. Truth be told, I was waiting for the day that I would be the receiver of such news. It was only a matter of time, as G and her husband have now been married more than a few years. And, not to sound as if I’m just “going through the motions” here … I’m genuinely happy for G and her hubby.

What surprised me most during this phone conversation is that I had this incredible longing to see G pregnant. Why this particular high school friend and not any another … or not even my SIL during her recent pregnancies? I don’t know if I could explain it clear enough. But I will try my best …

Part of me thinks it’s because I can still recall how my friends and were back in high school. How innocent we looked. How our futures seemed so hazy and obscure; so distant from where we were at that time in our lives. Now that future is here, and we can’t seem to slow it down or stop it from moving forward. So by capturing an image this particular friend during her pregnancy … I relate it as a way for us to slow down the moment and enjoy the happiness of it all.

Something in the back of my mind seems to think the need to capture this moment is also related to the recent changes I’ve made in my life … one which doesn’t have me dwelling on my “failure” to have my own children. One that has me focusing on the best part of myself and repairing my overall health … versus focusing on what I would probably consider the worst bits of me. You know … the over-stressed, overly sensitive, “Why not me?” type of person.

In any case, I’m ecstatic for G and cannot wait to see pictures of her little one, due the end of March.

Last week, I also had the opportunity to spend time with another high school friend, K … the one who lives about a block and a half away from our place. I also got to meet her hubby and her beautiful (almost) 9 month old daughter. After seeing videos of K’s baby on her blog for months, I was finally able to hold that cutie-pie girl. And, oh my!  She’s just as charming and sassy as she was on all those videos I’ve watched.

Oh, and did I mention that K’s hubby is a sous chef at a pretty fancy-schmancy restaurant? And that I got to sample some of his fantastic cooking that night? Yeah … It. Was. Simply. Delish!

After chatting online with K for months, talking to her face-to-face was incredible. It was like we picked up where we left off more than 15 years ago! That level of comfort, of humor … it was as if we both jumped off a wagon back in the midst of college to go our separate ways, only to catch the same wagon 15 years later without missing a beat.

The conversation flowed seamlessly that night. (I stayed waaay past my bedtime for a “work” night!) And the more K & I talked, the more we realized how much we’ve changed over the years. Not in personality … as we still blathered about in the same witty sarcastic dialogue as we did in HS. But rather we’ve changed in the way we’ve approached certain situations. And that our own personal experiences made us feel as if we were no longer “invincible” …  that the paths our lives took, although very different, taught us pain and frustration and heartache.

But in the end, K & I both realized that despite what we’ve been through, we consider ourselves very truly lucky to be where we’re at today. Both of us are not quite “finished” with what we want to accomplish in our lives (K with her career and me with … well, I still don’t really know), but what we’ve been through and where we are today is nothing short of amazing.

After both these encounters last week, I realized that even though there has been  many changes  in my life over the years (whether personal or professional), deep down I know I’m the same person inside. I still have that silly, quirky personality, and while sometimes hidden, I know it’s somewhere in this mind and body. I just need to dig deep down to find myself again.

Wow. Long and babbling post. But as I know that both G and K (and not to forget E) read this blog, I wanted to let them know just how much their friendships mean to me. Really, girls … even though we don’t see or talk to each other much, I just wanted to let you know that you are all very special to me. And your friendships, especially because of my lack of any sort of sisterhood-bond, are something that I will treasure always.

Placing Stock in Bonds

Today is my day off this week. I planned on working on special project for most of the day (details still forthcoming in a future post), but first I had to head over to my parents’ house to pick up more stuff for said project.

I forget what it’s like to be out driving around 10:30-ish on a week day. Mostly because 10-hour work days are spent indoors working furiously at my desk. So yes, I forget about the old folk out driving about 20-zillion miles below the speed limit. Or the multitude of service cars and trucks that zoom around you as if there was no one else on the road.

Or in my case today, watching at least three different groups of women walking around pushing baby strollers.

Okay, so not all of them were pushing strollers. Some of them were holding their pre-preschool kids’ hands as they walked. And others, well … they were pregnant. It was that image of pushing the baby stroller and/or being pregnant that reminded me of what I don’t have. Or rather … not necessarily what I don’t have, more than what I haven’t been able to experience.

In this case, it’s not about being pregnant or having a child. It’s more about the ability to form friendships with other women who are at the same stage of life that you are. A tribe of women, as a good friend once mentioned in her blog, that I can bond with and share.

I’ve always said that not having a sister to grow up with has limited me in my ability to form female bonds. There’s something to be said about having another female (about the same age) around to learn how to act and react to different social situations. Whether a woman is close to her sister or not, this relationship still teaches that woman about the female mind in ways that another “sister-less” woman cannot experience or understand.

I tend to think that this is one of my biggest flaws within my personality. This social ineptness, when it comes to forming relationships with other women. Up until Hubby & I started trying to start our family (and failing miserably), I would say that I had a fair amount of female friends. Ones that I would call up and make plans to go shopping or out to eat just so we can hang. Being in a profession dominated by women also helped form these friendships. But the longer Hubby & I went without having children, the more isolated we became. And that’s because these female friends went on to start their families and began to relate more with other women and couples that also had children. More and more, I began to have less in common with these friends.

Oh, I know not to place all the blame (if any blame at all) on these friends, who are now more like acquaintances. I know that friendship goes both ways. And I know that there are the times that I just didn’t make the effort to continue the friendship. But I also know that there are the times that I just couldn’t be the friend that they needed … my own pain, in my opinion, would have caused more of a rift in that friendship.

There’s another part of me that I believe has limited my ability to form long and lasting female friendships. And that is being a first-generation Asian/Filipino-American. (And for clarity’s sake, this means that my brother and I were born here in the US, while my parents were both born in the Philippines.) Growing up in my household always meant you had one foot in the traditional Asian mindset, while your other foot was learning to survive in the American culture and way of life. The traditional Filipino way meant that family and God (followed closely by education) always came first and anything else, such as friendships and after-school activities came in a distant last. And although the “American” part of me always wanted to make tons of friends and be involved in lots of activities, the “Asian” part of me held back considerably. Mainly because when I looked outward at myself and my family … I always knew that I was “different.”

So how about forming friendships with other first generation Asian- or Filipino-American women? Believe me, I do have those few friendships. And quite honestly, they’re probably the ones that have lasted the longest. I strongly believe that this is the case, mainly because we’ve stepped outside of our “Filipino-American” selves and truly know one another, outside of our personal issues (read: Emily’s infertility). That is simply because we’ve known each other for years. And we’ve bonded. And if they’re not family, then they are certainly the closest thing I have to family (without, of course, all the dysfunction).

The rest of the Asian/Filipino-Americans … definitely different story. Especially as it relates to infertility. Loribeth recently shared an article from Newsweek on her blog. While this article’s primary subject is about infertility and the lack of treatment in developing countries , there is a small focus about the ostracism of infertile women in these countries. Here’s a little taste of it:

The stigma that infertile women face can infiltrate every aspect of life. They may not even be invited to weddings or other important gatherings. “People see them as having a ‘bad eye’ that could make you infertile, too,” says Inhorn. “Infertile women are considered inauspicious.”

Other people simply “don’t want to have them around at joyous occasions,” says Frank van Balen, coauthor (with Inhorn) of “Infertility Around the Globe” and a professor in the department of social and behavioral sciences at the University of Amsterdam. Their reasoning: “they could spoil it,” he says.

The thing is … this article doesn’t just pertain to these women living in that particular country. This article reflects just about everything that I’ve, as an infertile, encountered here. In the US. Amongst family and friends. Within my culture.

That article basically summed up the reason why I started this blog in the first place. Because what I write here is everything I feel about myself and everything I could never say out loud.

This blog was meant to help me work my way through my infertility issues. It was a way for those family members and friends who would always ask us why we still didn’t have children know why without me or Hubby having to spill all the details out loud in which I would inevitably cry. It was a way for me to feel comfortable telling my story, without having the other person feel uncomfortable.

But apparently even by just writing these things, I still make certain people very uncomfortable and therefore ostracizing myself even moreso amongst my family and Filipino/Asian friends. Certain actions have made it quite evident over these past few weeks. Certain things have forced me to evaluate exactly whom I want to be closest to me at my most difficult times.

It’s because of those actions, I have debated about taking down this blog. Or making it strictly password-protected for those who would be genuinely interested in following my rants.

But then I thought … how many other Asian-American / Filipino-American women or couples are out there that are going through similar things that I’ve experienced? How many are out there longing for some sort of bond with others going through something just as painful? How many more of us are out there that feel ostracized and alone?

I know what it was like to meet all of my infertility friends through blogging. And even though we might not share the same cultural considerations … I do know that they are going through the same (or similar) hurt and anger and pain that I’ve gone through while traveling on my IF journey.

And it’s because of you girls I’ve felt less lonely … less ostracized. I’ve felt as if I could go out to meet you for a “virtual walk” at around, oh … let’s say 9 pm … (when most of us are known to read/blog the most) and bond.

So I decided to keep my blog “password-free” (except maybe for the occasional post). My hope is that this blog is still a way to communicate with those people who want to continue with me along my IF journey. But it is also my hope that it be available for those Asian- and Filipino-Americans (as well as those that are not … Asian, that is) traveling down the infertility road alone and looking for some company.

Recharged

Last week went by in such a blur; not so much because it was a short work week from having Labor Day off. I think it had more to do with the emotional downfall I seemed to be experiencing since the days before Kairi’s birth.

Yes, I sucked at trying to stay off the not-so-amusement park ride, otherwise known as the roller coaster of infertility.

But today … this week … I am making an effort to pick myself up and move right along. As to where I might be moving along to on this IF journey still remains to be seen. I still have a lot of “issues” to work out before I can completely move on.

This relatively small turn in tides is due to a few things that have happened as of late. First of all, writing this post was certainly cathartic, despite the brief bit of guilt I felt for about three days after posting it.

Then there were those readers … those friends … who actually made the effort to comment on both of those posts. Your words do mean a lot to me and I do take what all you say very much to heart. It shows to me that, despite the ramblings of anger, sadness, guilt and confusion, I’m not alone in feeling or expressing them. To me, that makes me feel less of a silly, pathetic person who “obviously can’t let go” and more of a real person with justified thoughts for all those emotions. I cannot thank each and every one of you enough for all your kind words.

And not that I’m fishing for more comments about my posts … but for those IRL friends and even those that may just be “lurking” … trust me, a simple acknowledgement (whether by comment or quick email) to those bloggers that may be calling out for some love or support goes a LOOOONG way. And you never know, this may be the only way a blogger is able to let you in past the brick wall he or she may have inadvertently built around his- or herself.

The last thing that helped me get through this difficult time was a quick trip to London, Ontario to attend LJC‘s bridal shower this past weekend. The two-hour drive one-way would be the first time I’ve ever made that trip by my lone self. During my childhood, the trip was made with family. And in the later years, it would always be with Hubby.

Hubby was supposed to be with me on this road trip. However, a last minute decision (like less than 2 weeks) on his family’s part to throw a surprise birthday party for his mom on the same day as the shower threw off those plans.

Part of me was honestly kinda ticked at that. We had already made plans to make the trip to London to do a quick getaway from “things.” And when I mean “things,” I mean that we knew that the weekend before would be surrounded by “all things baby.” Not that we didn’t want to be there to meet Kairi and congratulate the proud parents, but we knew … at least I knew … that I would need to step back and recharge our emotional batteries.

Hubby & I as "Positive & Negative"

Hubby & I as "Positive" and "Negative

Because I knew that, even though we made the effort to physically visit SIL and Kairi twice while they were in the hospital, seeing that vision of “Mom and Baby” would stick with me (and to some extent, Hubby) emotionally long after we kissed and said goodbye to them.

But now it was just going to be me going to London. And poor Hubby was going to stay at home and help out with the surprise party. And the introduction of Kairi to the rest of the family. Hubby, unfortunately, would have to deal with the family & friends ooh-ing and ahh-ing over Kairi (rightly so, by the way … did you see how cute she is?!) and then turning to him to say, “Still no kids for you, huh?”

So yeah, that’s what ticked me off. And what also made me feel guilty for leaving Hubby there to fend for himself.

I also can’t deny that I was also excited to go to London by myself, either. This quick overnight jaunt to visit with the cousins I always felt were the “sisters I never had” … Well, this would be the first time in a long time that it would be “just the girls.” It would give us the opportunity to talk about “girl things” and other things that we haven’t been able to talk about in a very long time.

And although I didn’t get to spend as much time with LJC, as she already had other wedding-planning related plans, there was still a good time to be had. Also, the one “sister” from Calgary wasn’t able to make the shower either. But despite this, I was still able to spend lots of time with the youngest “sister” and her Mom (my Uncle’s wife) and her Mom’s two sisters. And while it may sound strange … for the longest time, I thought that my cousin’s aunts were also my aunts by blood as well.

So after all the guests had left and the dishes cleaned, it was no surprise that we all sat down in the kitchen to relax. After all, that’s where I can remember many long conversations and discussions taking place in my youth. Except this time I’m much older, as is my youngest “sister.” And we’re talking about American and Canadian politics. And infertility. And all of my “aunts” and my “sister” are asking me honest-to-God actual questions and actually looking at me and responding to me at the appropriate times.

Yup, that’s right. These family members that I haven’t had much contact outside of weddings (and more weddings) over the past ten years were genuinely interested to know how I was doing, and how I was dealing with things. Real people. Right in front of me. Showing empathy and compassion for me. What. A Breath. Of. Fresh. Air.

And at exactly the right time that I needed it, too.

It was precisely what I needed to energize my batteries so I could still keep going (and going and going) …

Red Thumb Diary

Remember that show on Sh.owtime “Red Shoe Diaries“? It starred David Du.chovny pre-“X-Files” and was pretty risque. Now, I’m not going to be writing anything quite like what that show is about. Really, the only reason I brought it up was because I thought it would be quite a lame reference to the title of this post.

Okay, yeah. Making no sense here. But let me explain first of all by showing you this picture.

Yes, it’s a picture of my left thumb as I hold it up to the picture I posted in one of my recent entries. And why, may you ask, am I doing something as silly as that? Well, it’s because that same day that I wrote and posted that entry, I got an email from none other than “Living Journal” Cousin (herein known as LJC). Talk about major co-inky-dink!

LJC’s email told me that she (along with her fiance and fiance’s brother & girlfriend) would be coming for some shopping on Saturday and was wondering if we could at least get together and catch up for a bit. So I quickly responded that I would love to spend some time together in which ever way we could. Of course, I told her that I was just thinking about her. And then, in my typical “blog-whore” fashion (you know, where you try to “pimp your blog” out to other people … 😛 ), referred her to that latest post.

By the time LJC called this past Saturday, it was late afternoon and they were just pulling into the area. And because the main purpose for this trip was to go shopping, we figured we’d be able to maximize our time together by shopping and catching up. So, we met up at the area mall and shopped. Well, they did anyway.

Me? Well, as you can probably surmise by this picture … I tried on some nail polish at one of the stores. And silly me … thought that this particular store might have some nail polish remover handy to quickly take off the color so I didn’t have to go around with one single red thumb. Yeah … like I said … silly me.

Yep, these are ALL of LJC’s letters to me

So that solves the riddle of the “Red Thumb” part of this blog title. What, say you, about the “Diary” part?

As I stated briefly in the previously mentioned post … LJC was someone that I wrote to about everything during the most tumultuous times of my adolescent / teen life. So much that our letters would get to be 20 to 30 pages long at times. (I’m not kidding you … I swear!) She was … literally and figuratively … my real life diary (hence the name “Living Journal” Cousin). I can honestly say that my high school years and the earlier part of my college years had been written greatly in detail. As was hers.

The best part of having this kind of method of journaling was that I wasn’t just writing what I felt in a notebook or diary of some sorts … I was actually writing to a real live person. A person … my cousin … who I trusted (and still do) with my innermost feelings. And someone, who’s insight and opinions about my thoughts and actions, I deeply respected. So by sending and receiving each one of our letters … well, it’s much like getting feedback or comments on any of the blog entries I write. Except rather than it be out there in cyberspace … it’s signed, sealed, and delivered by the good old postal system. And better still, it’s given with that unconditional love and trust that’s very rare to find.

Looking back now, I think that I placed such strong emphasis on my relationship with my cousin (and subsequently her two younger sisters) because, growing up, I never had that sisterly bond with anyone else. Being with these three girls would be (and still is) the closest that I would ever come to having a sister. And in some respect, I wonder if this is the reason why I’m not as close or comfortable around other women today. Meaning that I’ve been witness to the bonding experience that most women with sisters have with each other and their subsequent relationships with other women. But that’s it. I’ve never been as close to any other females in my life as I am with my cousins. And even now, the three of them have a relationship with each other that I can honestly say that I envy.

But getting back to the letters …

The running joke during the height of our letter-writing years was that we would eventually give each other our letters back once we got married. Then we could do with it what we wanted … either read them or burn them … especially because there may have been some really bad things written in those letters that we wouldn’t want anyone … not even our future husbands … to read.

My So-Called Life

I completely forgot about our promise until the day after my wedding when Hubby & I (in typical Filipino tradition) were opening our wedding gifts among many of our out-of-town family & friends. There, in the absolute last box we opened were three books. Yup … all my letters, neatly photo-copied (colored copies, nonetheless … imagine the price of doing that in 1996) and binded chronologically into three volumes. I can clearly remember looking up at LJC (as well as her two sisters) with such amazement as tears ran down my face. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at … and I couldn’t believe that she’d remembered. The four of us stood hugging each other tightly and crying like babies as my cousin told me that she had to make copies because she just couldn’t part with the original letters.

So now … with LJC’s wedding literally around the corner … I’ve gotta start getting my act together. It looks as if I’ll be spending a lot of time in front of my printer/scanner or the local office supply place making copies of LJC’s letters. Because just like her … I can’t bear to part with the originals. But at least now … we’ll both have a set of all our letters and all of our responses.

Other Related Strings

Archives