(The Week Where the Waves Kept Comin’)
So. I realize that my little cubby-hole in the internet-verse started as a way to work through my emotions while going through IF (infertility). And furthermore, how I was managing with living child-free.
And I realize that my most recent posts since 2020 (when I returned to putting my thoughts on “paper”) have not been related to IF / Child-free living.
That’s because, for the most part, I’ve resolved my feelings about both and have accepted that the life I am currently living is the life I was meant to have. In addition, when Hubby & I found ourselves “fur-childless” as our elder cats, Rain & Yami and our 12-yo puplo, Kozzy crossed the Rainbow Bridge, we knew we wanted to provide a good life for a rescue dog.
That’s how Kirby came into our lives. Having grown up with one, I was hoping to get a beagle. They just have such a unique personality that I can only describe as charismatic. They are smart, yet can be goofy. They are stubborn, but have no shortage in the love department. And their ears are so velvety soft.
In addition, we wanted to have a smaller type beagle, as Kozzy was a little too big for small home living. And finally, it had to be a boy because: 1) we’ve never had a male pet, and 2) Kirby was to be “Daddy’s Dog.”
It took a month of searching online for a beagle / beagle-mix at a local rescue or shelter. And just as I was about to lose hope on finding our “dream” dog, Hubby stumbled across Kirby’s profile at a local rescue group.
It was love at first site. While we love all of our “fur-children,” there is something about Kirby that makes him extra special. Maybe it’s because of those eyes, or that heart on top of his head. Or maybe the fact that his personality seemed to have traits derived from of all our pets. His curiosity definitely came from Yami. His stubbornness rivaled Kozzy’s. And just like Rain, he was a cuddle monster. Either way, at that moment, we knew that Kirby would be part of our family, our Ohana.
It’ll be seven years this July that Kirby has been in our lives. Since then, he started his own Instagram (@kirbykrackel) and Facebook accounts. He may not be an “influencer,” but he certainly has made lots of friends being part of the #GrumpyBeaglesUnited group. (Okay, so really it’s me that found life-long friends who’s beagles also had IG accounts).
Kirby loves going for rides in the car; he has a perpetual “What’s our next adventure?” look. That need for adventure likely came from the many road trips we’ve taken. He’s put his paws in Lake Superior, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He’s canoed down the Platte River with us. He even strolled the National Mall when we took him to DC. We’ve driven cross- country, from Chicago to Santa Monica, jumping on and off I-40 to stop at interesting places off Route 66. We’ve been to the East Coast, the Outer Banks, Hilton Head and (of course) Florida. Needless to say, Kirby is a well-traveled pupster.
On each of these trips, we made it a point to meet some of Kirby’s Beagle Friends and their parents. It’s been nice to actually pet these awesome beagles and talk to their “parents” in person.
Kirby has made us more sociable; forcing us to meet complete strangers who want to pet him. He’s the reason we’ve been taking road trips, rather than flying somewhere for vacation. Basically Kirby was the one who brought us out of our shells to meet new people and make new adventures. He allowed us to step outside that life of IF and Child-free living and experience more of what life has to offer.
It was only a matter of time that Hubby & I would think of rescuing another beagle. Our wish list was the same as for Kirby; though we didn’t really have a preference of gender. From our beagle friends, we found a regional beagle rescue group. We hadn’t been actively looking, but there were a few young beagles on their site that prompted us to, at the very least, submit an application for review.
When we rescued Kirby, other than calling our Vet’s office to confirm we maintained the health of our other pets, the adoption process was painless. Which to me was a relief after years of considering other ways to start our human family.
Like I mentioned above, I hadn’t been writing much about my feelings about being child-free or how going through IF changed me. If you read the “About Me” portion of my blog, you’ll find that we considered adoption both domestic & abroad. However, given the heartache and disappointment during the years trying to conceive (TCC), I knew I wouldn’t be strong enough to survive any heartache and disappointment if we were NOT chosen to be parents for a child.
More so, I was downright afraid of the application process. For most adoption agencies, they have standards in which to “approve” a person/family to be eligible to adopt. This meant that there would be a thorough investigation of our past, our finances, and — of course, our home. Then, if we were officially cleared to be placed on an adoption list, we would need to make an “About Us” profile in hopes that a biolological parent would choose us to raise their child.
For others, that would be a piece of cake; another step in starting their family. For me though, it was an invasion of my privacy, a judgement on how I live / lived my life, a look-see at any past mistakes I may have made. And that scared the living daylights out of me.
I’ve been told that when going through a pregnancy, your privacy just flies out the window. You could care less about who saw what and why needed to be done. Your goal was to deliver this child safely by all means necssary.
What hasn’t been said is that privacy is very scarce when you’re actively going through the IF work-up and the subsequent treatments. Visits to the IF Clinic were exhausting. I’d have to go twice (sometimes three times) a week to find the “optimal” time to conceive. This involved removing all clothing below the waist. It involved intrauterine ultrasounds, pelvic exam among pelvic exam. I swear, it got to the point where the minute I stepped into the IF clinic’s exam room, I would automatically drop my pants. I was in good company though, as others in the waiting room (though none of us could look at each other) were probably doing the same exact thing in the exam room. To this day, I experience PTSD when I go for my yearly girly exam. It was THAT invasive of my privacy.
We went through these experiences as if it was one “step” towards starting our biological family. Despite the odds against us, running up these “stairs”(if you will) still provided us an element of hope; a glimmer that I somehow could get pregnant.
When the glimmer of hope died after that one In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) failed, well … I felt defeated, depleted, but most of all depressed. I sunk down to the bottom of an endless well and, at one point didn’t think I’d be able to break the surface ever again. It took a long time to get where I am today; with the acceptance that I am unable to have biological children. Most of the time, my “healing process” involved being honest with my emotions, my actions, and my desires. It forced me to determine what I considered important in the life I was given, whether or not it was one I imagined. It was a tough journey, I managed to get out and accept that my life was meant to travel this road, to earn these battle scars.
Once I got out of that “black pit of despair,” I knew never ever wanted to go through those emotions again. In that darkness, I felt as if I had no ability to make things better for myself; wasn’t able to control my emotions. I felt as if I was was just a puppet and the master of the puppet strings (apron strings?) was the world mocking me because I couldn’t have kids.
It was that lack of control that I felt; that I was a slave to my monthly cycle. Each decision to make depended on the treatments we were receiving. I wanted to take back that part of my life where I had the ability to make decisions based on what I wanted to do; to take control of my life rather than what IF dictated.
Since biological children were not in our future, we were finally forced to decide if we wanted to adopt. While I couldn’t control what was happening with my body while TTC, I certainly had the control to make decisions of whether or not we wanted to adopt. Of which we all know what that decision was.
Why am I bringing up both Kirby and Infertility? Well, the obvious is because Kirby is our four-legged child; and therefore, has provided us with a way to raise and nurture a child.
Now that urge to “parent” another beagle has been growing; especially after the year that was 2020. We thought it would be great if Kirby had a sibling, someone to play with, someone he can nurture as well. This brings us to the present time.
This Beagle Rescue group, like other rescue groups require us to submit an application. In addition, they require an phone interview and a subsequent home visit if the interested party passed the interview.
Hubby & I knew that as we filled out the application and as we were being interviewed over the phone. Though I still hate the invasion of privacy that comes with adoption, I was prepared to go through all the steps if it meant that we could add another beagle to our Ohana.
We passed the first two steps easily enough. Therefore a home visit, which included bringing another beagle for Kirby to interact with, was set for for the last week of April.
While there were rough patches with Kirby interacting with the other beagle, he was otherwise okay or chose to ignore him. But if he get too close to Kirby’s toys or food, or if this beagle explored Kirby’s “territory” unchaperoned, Kirby would growl. And if the other beagle was within inches of Kirby, he would bear his teeth and appear as if he wanted to attack him.
Kirby has been with other dogs (he likes running with the big dogs in the dog park), he just doesn’t like getting too personal with them. Touch his privates and he goes bonkers (he’s apparently hip with the #MeToo movement). We found out when the other beagle went to the upstairs bedrooms unaccompanied, Kirby is very protective of his territory. Apparently he takes his job as Beagle Security very seriously when it comes to our home.
Despite those issues, the home visit seemed to go okay. Definitely not stellar, but — as we were given good advice on what we can do when introducing another dog into the house — we thought we did a decent job expressing how much another beagle would be great for our Ohana. We already knew about the whole “don’t touch me there” issue, but we emphasized that this would be something we can work on. We also expressed our commitment to the process of slowly introducing a new beagle to our family.
The Tuesday before Mother’s Day, we received an email from the rescue group. It stated that after reviewing the home visit report, they thought that Kirby would not be comfortable with another dog in the house. It ended with saying that our application was declined for this, and that it “wouldn’t be fair” to Kirby or a new dog.
It took me a couple minutes to digest that email and even more minutes to compose myself to let Hubby know our application was declined.
Suddenly I felt as if I was back on the IF roller coaster once again. I was rejected because I wasn’t a good enough mother. I hadn’t properly socialized Kirby with other dogs throughout the years which is why he appears to be aggressive during certain moments. That during the background check, they must have found something in our previous pets’ medical records that deemed us bad candidates for adoption. That I wasn’t fur-mother appropriate. That I was worthless.
Now logically, I know that adopting a dog is NOTHING like adopting a human child. That child adoption is a more cumbersome process than it is to adopt a dog. I also know that these “interviews” and home visits are for the well-being of the adoptee, whether it’s a child or adult.
But emotionally? On the week heading into Mothers Day of all days? I became a complete wreck. At that moment, all the things I feared about when contemplating domestic or international adoptions happened … while trying to adopt a dog.
I believe I may have told this story in a previous post, but it’s something that I like to return to when I’m feeling the sting of infertility (or the sadness that comes with the loss of a loved one) more potently than other days.
A friend once told me that it is normal to grieve intermittently; that no one really EVER gets done grieving. He compared it to the ebb and flow of tides formed from the gravitational pull of the sun and moon. During a full moon, the pull of the sun and moon cause the tides to be higher (queue Blondie, “The Tide is High,”), stronger; constantly hitting the shore with such force.
During other moon phases; however, the pull is weaker and waves can appear as a small ripple gently approaching the coast. However, there exists other factors (such as wind, storms) that can cause disruptions in an otherwise calm body of water. Those elements are capable of creating recklessly tall waves or even teeny tiny minuscule waves. These factors can be unpredictable, not only on how hard the waves hit the shores, but on how long of a period occurs between each wave, each set.
This friend said to think of grief as those tides, these waves. At first the grief is so strong, so painful, and so constant that it feels like the grief will never stop. But then there are the times where grief, while still palpable, is still not as potent as it was in the beginning. And then there are the times where grief manifests in other ways (memories, milestones, deja vu moments, for example) without any warning.
I was told to remember that grief can be sneaky like that; punching you in the gut without even realizing that you’ve been hit. Those are the times that we should recognize that it’s okay feel that grief more acutely. That grief, like the ebb and flow of tides never really ends.
So today, if you ask me how I’m handling child-free living, chances are you’ll get a “not so good” answer. I really am okay, and I know that I’m the only person that can make myself feel worthless. I know that I will pick myself up once again. Like I’ve done so many times since the beginning.
I know that despite everything, I will get through this rough patch.