A Week of Tears

So many tears this week.  All for different reasons.  Here is my pity party list – I need to get it out of my system!

1. Tears of Joy Quickly Turn Into Grieving the Loss of Having Biological Children

I learned recently that the younger brother of a former student (and now family friend) has been diagnosed with a form of Leukemia.  It broke my heart to learn this and a community of support has been created for the little fella.  The boy needs a bone marrow transplant and last week they found a match!  Even more exciting is that the match is his older brother (my former student).  I was so relieved that I cried.  Then I cried some more.  Then I cried because I realized that through adoption I’ll very likely only have one child (if I’m lucky enough to even get one).  No sibling for support and definitely no genetic match.  I know this is such a stretch, but for some reason this is where my mind went.  I guess that’s just a symptom of living with infertility and pregnancy loss.  I never know what’s going to set me off.

2. The Birthday Party

On Saturday night the plan was to go out with a group of friends for a friend’s birthday drinks. Most of these friends are single gay men. It’s safe to say that a typical night out with these guys means freedom from the world of babies and family life.  I put on a cute dress, loaded on the mascara (something I don’t do when potential crying is on the schedule) and headed out with my hubbie to meet them.  We got to the restaurant and ordered the first round of drinks. A few sips in, my evening changed.  My friend and her husband came in with their 7 week old baby.  I think I broke some kind of world record for fastest downing of a dirty martini.  It took everything in my power not to cry or run away.  Instead I went pale and started to shake.  My friend was very kind and carful when she saw me. I’m lucky for that.  She suffered a significant loss a year ago and understands my pain.  She parked the baby at the other end of the table with her husband and talked to me about non baby stuff.  I thank her for that.  It was still hard though.  There was a lot of baby talk. “She has your hair”, “she has your eyes” (more grieving of my bio child – these comments sting). There was at the table breastfeeding (something else to let go of). There was “you look so amazing, I can’t believe you had a baby 7 weeks ago” (I’m still so bloated that I  look like I’m pregnant). It was a rough night and my only escape was to drink too much.  Thanks to all the drinks, Sunday was a rough day too!

3. Seriously????? It’s MY turn!!!! 

While nursing a hangover (something I haven’t experienced for YEARS), I got a message from my aunt.  My younger cousin is pregnant again.  All pregnancy announcements are painful right now (and maybe forever), but this one hurt even worse.  My cousin (who I used to be very close with) was pregnant with her first when I was pregnant the first time.  Our babies would have been a few months apart.  I still have a little onesie that she gave me in a box in the basement.  We were so excited to be having babies together.   I lost my baby the weekend of her shower.  Ouch.  Hearing that she is pregnant again only added to my “what if” list.  Would I be having my second baby now? Would we be starting the adoption process for our second?   What makes it worse (for her and me) is that she’s not even with her husband anymore. He’s returned , on her request after years of fighting to his country of origin and isn’t expected to return. This just goes back to the stork distribution problem. Why can’t I have a baby when I’m SO ready while other people can get pregnant when it’s unplanned and not the right time in their lives? I no the answer is “there’s no reason”.  It still stings though.  When I got the news I cried.  No, I sobbed.  I went up to my bed and sobbed for hours. I couldn’t stop, I couldn’t be consoled.  This news coming the day after seeing another baby was too much for me.  I was mourning my first baby all over again. It all came right back up the front. All the pain, all of the losses, all of the disappointments.  I’m sure I cried because I needed to.  I’m so tired of crying. When will this hurt less?

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A Look Back and a Plan for the New Year

The last few years have been very difficult. Holidays like Christmas, New Year’s Eve, birthdays, Mother’s Day even Halloween always remind me of all that I have lost.  For years now I have suffered through “the worst Christmas ever”, only to have it trumped the following year.  On New Year’s Eves I have put the pain of the previous year behind  looking forward to a “fresh start” only to face another difficult series of events.

Christmas was hard.  It’s impossible not to think about what might have been, what Christmas in my home SHOULD be like, the celebrations that are happening  in the homes of my friends and their new families and where we could have gone on vacation if we hadn’t have spent our money on a failed IVF.  I got through it.  There were tears, arguments with my husband and loneliness but I got through it.

I got through New Year’s Eve too.  I thought a lot about last year’s New Year’s Eve reflection.   I knew last year that 2013 wasn’t going to be a good one.  I wasn’t being pessimistic, I was being realistic.  This year is a little different.  This year there is actually a chance.   Not a guarantee, but at least a chance.

My husband and I were approved for adoption over a year ago.  The original estimated wait time was 18 months.  The numbers have gone up and down since then, but it does mean that REALISTICALLY, we could be matched with our child this year.

As frustrating as the fertility treatment fails were, I’m glad that I did them.  I can say with confidence that I tried “all the ways“.  It doesn’t mean that I’m not mourning the loss of that potential biological child, but it does mean that I need to shift my focus towards the adoption.

Unlike fertility treatments, focusing on adoption alone feels much less productive.  There are no calendars or early morning appointments.  I had to consider what “focusing on adoption” meant to me.    I think it’s going to mean the following:

  • getting into shape to prepare to run after a potentially terrified running toddler (I’ve heard stories about this from other adoptive parents)
  • taking care of myself, continuing acupuncture and mourning my losses so that I’m ready to be a happy parent
  • continuing and possibly increasing my involvement with the adoption agency. ( I currently write for the newsletter)
  • saving money so if I get my referral the trip to Vietnam and time off work won’t put me into enormous debt.

That’s a start. If the adoption doesn’t go through this year, none of those actions will be a waste. They’re all positive things.

My husband wants me to start considering that our life may not include children.  I’m not ready to think about that.  For now I have to assume that I will have a child. I just “can’t choose when“.

 

 

“Dear Belly Buddy” Volume Two

After much procrastination I did it.  I wrote back to my friend. No turning back now.  I really hope I said all of the right things.  I didn’t edit myself because I really just wanted to get down what I was feeling.  I just went with the flow.

Thanks to “K” for reminding me that it was ok to start with “It’s so hard to explain how I feel without coming across as an awful human being.”

I’ve omitted the names but that’s it.

Dear Belly Buddy,

It’s so hard to explain how I feel without coming across as an awful human being.  But here goes…

 

This last chapter of my life has been really hard.  Harder then anything that life has ever dealt me. There have been some ups (like the wedding) but even that has been tainted because I was pregnant at the wedding.

 

I’ve been in a lot of pain for such a long time now.   I cry almost every day.  I hate feeling like this.  Sometimes I feel ok and then out of the blue, some trigger sets me off and I go several steps back. 

 

Having friends who shared due dates (you, my other belly buddies , half the staff at work – all within a month of my due date) has made things even harder for me.  It’s like I have access to watch some alternate universe where everything turned out ok.  It’s really hard for me to see and think about.  

 

At this point it’s hard for me to be around anyone who is pregnant or has a young family.  I just feel so ripped off.  I feel like I’m a mom with no kids.

I found out about a month a go that my little brother is having a baby.  This kills me.  I’m having a really hard time with it.   I haven’t seen them and I don’t want to.  It hurts too much.   I’m starting to feel like I’ve missed my turn.  I feel left behind.

I’ve been ready to have a family for so long.  At the beginning, I was able to find some peace with it and be positive.  I thought then that I just had to wait for my turn. Now that I have been so close to it so many times it has become intolerable.  It consumes me.  I think about it all the time.  Almost everything I do revolves around it.

I spend so much time at doctors’ offices. Just trying to find out what went wrong and how we can make sure that this doesn’t happen again.

Going into a clinic several mornings a month for diagnostic blood and ultrasound makes it really difficult to “get it off my mind”.  

 

Moving forward with the adoption process has been positive and exciting. But what’s hard now is that the wait will be so long (some people I have spoken to have been waiting over three years).  There’s also always the chance that it won’t work.  Laws are constantly changing. There’s no guarantee that this is going to happen.

I’m coping with the wait by writing for the newsletter and trying to connect with other waiting moms.  This is a way that makes me at least feel like I’m being proactive, but it’s not really making the hurt go away.

I’ve also been writing a blog about all of this (thanks for the inspiration – I loved your dating blog), which has proved to be a good release when there’s something I need to let out.  It’s also, to my surprise, connected me with other people who are going through the same thing.

 

The thought of another 3 years without a child kills me. I wish I could explain better how it feels.   I just feel empty.  I feel stupid living in this big family home without a family.  I hate looking at the spare rooms and I don’t like going in them.

 

The desperation to have a child has and added pressure as I really feel that that’s what it’s going to take to start picking up the pieces of my life.  I’m never going to be “over it”, but I’m hoping I’ll be “ok”.  

 

I miss you so much.  We really got each other and we have had so much fun and made it though some tough times. But right now the pain of seeing you and your family trumps the pain of staying away. 

I just need to cocoon and stay in a place that limits triggers and makes me feel safe.  It’s the only way at this point that I can function.  This is why I’m staying away from some social events and parties.  It’s hard for me to be there and public bursts of sobbing are getting embarrassing.  I just don’t feel like my regular, fun self.

 

I’ve talked to some other people who have gone through similar things and some of them have been able to get their lives back with time, even before they have kids.  I really hope that I get there but I’m not there yet.

 

Please don’t give up on me.  Please do keep checking up on me.  Please do accept me as a friend again when I’m ready to come back.

 

Thanks for being so understanding all this time. I had no idea; I never could have predicted how long the sadness would go on for. I never could have predicted that it would happen again and again.

 

I don’t expect you to understand.  I don’t think I would have really understood if I wasn’t going through it.   I just really don’t want you to think I’m awful.  I don’t want you to think it’s because of anything you’ve done.  I just want you to keep caring.

Everything is about infertility (even missing my Grandma)

GrandmaMy Grandma has always been a big part of my life.  Time with her was the source of most of my fondest childhood memories from Christmases, to swimming in her neighbours’ pool, to greasing our bodies with baby oil and tanning together at the beach (because it was the 80s and that wouldn’t have been considered child abuse yet).  As an adult, we developed an “adult” relationship with frequent visits and dinners out.  I’ve always felt so lucky to have had the privilege of having an adult relationship with my Grandma. It allowed me to really get to know who she was (a very sassy lady) and for me to hear about parts of her life and parts of history that many people would never get to hear about first hand.

When I found out I was pregnant the first time, one of the first people I told was my Grandma.  She was 93 years old at the time.  I was so happy to be able to share this with her.  We have a small family and all of my cousins (all of whom are very close to me in age) have had children.  Their children have relationships with Great-Grandma.  Great-Grandma has knitted them blankets and sweaters and mittens. Great-Grandma sends pictures of them as her Christmas card.  Great-Grandma has their artwork on her fridge.  I wanted so desperately to be a part of this joy.

When I told her I was pregnant, she started to knit.  When I lost the baby, she stopped.  I may have mentioned this in a previous blog, but she even “announced that there was another Great-Grandkid on the way in her retirement home newsletter. The next two pregnancies I didn’t tell her about personally but my aunt let her know when I lost them.

My Grandma had her own struggles with infertility.  I don’t know the whole story because “we didn’t talk about these things”.  But I know through piecing stories together that there was “something in there the size of an orange” and that my Grandma adopted my father and my aunt.  Even though we’re not technically related by “blood”, people would always comment about how much we looked the same.  We had the same eyes and the smile (and some of the same sass).  We also have the same initials.  We had a special little bond over these things.

When I told her our plans to adopt, she was excited.  She was completely shocked by how much the process had changed and by how long we will likely have to wait.   Her experience was very quick and very different.

On Thursday, my Grandma passed away.

It took too long. She will never meet my child (if I’m lucky enough to ever have one). She will never finish that knitting. My child will never be on her Christmas card and their art will never be hung with pride on her fridge.

I feel like I failed.  I feel like I missed out.  I feel more alone than ever.  I wanted her to know that everything turned out ok.

Her funeral is today and I’m not there.  There are a few reasons for that and it was a huge struggle to come to that decision.  When her health started to go a few weeks ago, I started to panic.  Not for her.  I knew she was ok; I knew she’d had an amazing and full life.  I knew she was 95 years old. I was panicking about how I would deal with it.

One factor is my father.  My father has been out of my life (and the lives of my Aunt, Uncle and cousins) for several years for a reason that I’ll save for another blog. My father has not met my husband, and never will.  The idea of having this “reunion” at a funeral was too much for me.

Adding to this panic was the fact that my brother and his pregnant wife would be there.  Pregnancy at a funeral always provides people with comfort. It’s the perfect symbol of the cycle of life.  To me right now it represents the exact opposite.   It compounds my grief rather than bringing me relief.

Everyone else in my family would be there with their children and babies.   For me to bring my own grief to that situation wouldn’t have been healthy for me, wouldn’t have been respectful to anyone else and would have made the situation worse.

I sat this one out.  I sincerely hope they understand.  I’d like to think my Grandma would have.

I feel selfish for making the passing of my Grandma, who I loved and adored, about infertility. Why is EVERYTHING about infertility?

I’m sad, so said, and I don’t think that the people close to me really understand why.

home for the holidays

20121219-175411.jpgI’ve been dreading Christmas for quite a while now…and now it’s days away. Christmas is such a family holiday and I really thought I’d have my own family by now. ( I know, I have my husband, I have friends, I have extended family, but that’s not what I’m talking about). While all the friends that had babies on my due dates are having “Baby’s First Christmas”, my husband and I will be home, just the two of us. I don’t know why I can’t think of it as “just another day” – Maybe that’s because hubby insisted on putting up the world’s biggest Christmas tree! I know it will be fine. I’m lucky to have my fella and I’ll do my best just to enjoy our time alone together. Stay tuned…hopefully there will be a follow up entry called, “I Survived Christmas” or ” It Wasn’t So Bad”.

Gush Gush

It is reference time!   This is the one part of the adoption process that I was expecting.  I didn’t quite know how it worked, but I knew there would come the time to ask our friends and family for references.

The way it works here in Ontario, is that we had to select a few friends and family members who know us well, know us as a couple and are willing to show their support for our adoption.

This part of the process has been very positive and very heart-warming. It was REALLY easy for us to find people to do this.  Almost everyone we tell about the adoption offers to write us a letter.  The “people” want us to have a family.  We have good “people”.  We are very lucky that way.

The social worker contacted our friends and family, and to my surprise, rather than a letter, there was a form for them to complete. The form is mostly complied of checklists and asks about the nature and length of the person’s relationship to us, it asks about our personalities (checklist), our experience with children, our capability to raise a child, any problem behaviours (another checklist: drugs, abuse etc.), our social network, our relationship as a couple (checklist), and the final question, “Would you feel comfortable allowing the applicants to care for your child permanently if you were unable to do so?”

The last question really stood out for me.  This is the one that really proves that the person writing the reference is truly genuine.  It’s not something that anyone could lie about.  I was brought to tears reading an email from one of our references, a very good friend of mine:

“There’s a section about if I would let you raise my kid if need be.

Just wanted to let you know, the answer is without a doubt.”

The funny thing is, she doesn’t even have any children and it STILL made me cry!

I don’t take for granted the fact that we are surrounded by kind and supportive friends. Several of our references have offered to write accompanying letters to go with the form.  I have read a few and I am overwhelmed.  Even if we don’t come across as “perfect” (nobody’s perfect), it will be very clear to our social worker that we have a strong network of people who love us.

This week I’ve been feeling very mushy about my friends.  Gush gush.  Thanks friends.