Catching Our Rainbow

Hoping for a rainbow after the storm…

Acceptance

Try not to read too much into my silence. I’m mostly just really busy with school stuff–turns out getting your Masters degree in English literature means you have to do an enormous amount of reading, writing, and teaching. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not complaining. As busy as I am and as stressful as school can be, I love it. It feels so good to have forward motion in my life when I spent so long feeling stuck. The rest of our life might still be filled with unknowns, but I know what my next year is going to look like. Class. Teaching. Reading. Writing. The library. I didn’t know I could feel so much comfort from these constants, but I do.

At the moment, I am at the end of the semester and feeling a little overwhelmed with final projects/papers. So I’m taking some time out from all of that to tell you about something that happened last month.

Last month we went to Atlanta to visit some good friends. I was talking to N about the adoption process and about people’s reactions to our choice to move on to adoption. I told her the most frustrating thing is how everyone says “You know what will happen as soon as you adopt.” Everyone I talk to is convinced that I will get pregnant after we adopt–even people who know that getting pregnant is not the problem for us. And they all make it a point to tell me that. After I told her about it, N really surprised me. She looked me straight in the face and told me that she doesn’t think that will happen–that she doesn’t think we will be able to have kids. At first I was really confused because I thought I should be upset or offended, but I wasn’t.

I felt…relieved.

She was the first person to confirm that there is a good chance that I won’t be able to have kids. Seriously, the first person. I felt like the pressure was off–like there was at least one person in the world who didn’t expect the impossible from me. One person who wasn’t setting me up to be devastated all over again when adoption doesn’t magically fix me. The first person to focus on the adoption and the child we will get through adoption instead of glossing over that to the future and the hypothetical babies I will start popping out after we adopt.

Why do we do that? Why do we all feel the need to give hope–even if hope is something that can be painful and detrimental? We do it in the blog world, too. I won’t lie–one of the reasons I quit posting about our process to figuring out what is wrong with me is because I kept getting well-meaning suggestions from readers who didn’t even bother reading old posts. I got tired of readers suggesting I take baby aspirin when I have posted multiple times about my severe anaphylactic allergy to aspirin.

My doctor has found something and has suggested a game plan, and we’re going to try it. But we still plan move forward with adoption because the plan might not work. And you know what? That’s ok.

I don’t believe all of the memes and the encouraging phrases about never giving up–that true strength is always picking yourself up and trying again. I think true strength is being able to recognize when you’ve had enough and being able to move on. The truth is that some women can’t carry a child and I might be one of those women. As much as it hurts, I am acknowledging that and looking at options to move on. That’s not weakness. And what I really need right now is for someone to support that and recognize that my choices are ok and that they reflect strength and determination.

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The Wonderful and the Stupid

I’m going to start by saying that nothing seems to elevate my mood and calm me down like jazz music, and I am so happy that it is finally late enough in the year for me to play jazzy Christmas music at my desk at work :o)

In my last two posts, I told you about our current TTC plan and our adoption back up plan, and today I want to tell you about some of the reactions we have received from the few people we have told about our plan to adopt if we don’t get a viable pregnancy before April. I feel like this community is really good at complaining about the stupid things people say, so I really want to start on a positive note and tell you about the absolutely wonderful reaction we have received.

Hubby and I are friends with a wonderful couple that we absolutely love spending time with. For the purposes of this blog, I’ll call her Buttercup because we like to watch The Princess Bride together. Buttercup and her hubby have been married for about a year and a half and have been NTNP for most of their marriage, but she has problems with her thyroid and her hormone levels so there is a good chance that they will encounter problems whenever they do start TTC. Despite the fact that they are not in the same place as us, Buttercup is the most understanding person that I have spoken to about our journey, and she is my biggest source of strength and encouragement outside of this online community and hubby. She is actually the first person who told me that adoption through the foster care system is free, and when I told her our plan, she cried out of joy that we will become parents one way or another. Then she told me that they want to take the mandatory PATH (Parents As Tender Healers) class with us so they can become foster parents in the near future. Their friendship has honestly been a bigger blessing than I could ever ask for, and I find it very comforting to know that, if we do move on to adoption, they will be there with us :o)

The most common reaction we have received is the “once you adopt you are going to get pregnant” reaction, and while it gets old, it doesn’t really bother me that much. I usually just smile and say that means we will have two babies and my heart might just explode because I’ll be so happy. One thing that does bother me is when they take it one step further and say the reason we’ll get pregnant after adoption is because we’ll “just relax and stop trying.” I really don’t need to explain to this community why I find this so infuriating, but it especially upsets me because it isn’t even relevant to us. Our problem is not that we are too stressed to conceive or that we are trying too hard to conceive. Our problem is that our baby dies only a few weeks after conception. But, who knows, maybe if we adopt and relax, that will stop happening. Ugh. People are stupid.

Anyone else out there talking about the possibility of adoption? How have people reacted to that?

I still have to tell you all about hubby and sexy time, so keep an eye on your newsfeed ;o)

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I Need People to Understand This

I know we have all written the post. You know which post I am talking about. The post about the terrible things people say to those who are suffering through infertility or loss. There are particular phrases or sayings that cut us all to the quick, and many times we are left wondering how anyone could think that was a helpful, kind, or even acceptable thing to say to someone who is going through what we are enduring. But there is one that really upsets me and makes me angry, although I never really understood why it affects me the way it does.

Until now.

Oftentimes, well-meaning people will tell me about their friend, mother, grandmother, sister, cousin, etc. who has had a miscarriage, but now they have healthy children. Sometimes the person is speaking about her own story, telling me about how she was able to get pregnant and carry to term after a loss. You would think that I would find this encouraging, and I would receive hope about how I could potentially be telling the same story down the road. But I think I finally understand why this bothers me so much. Almost every time I tell someone about my losses, I am not looking for hope that I will give birth to a child or encouragement that I will one day be a mother.

I’m already a mother.

When I talk about my miscarriages, I am looking for someone to acknowledge my grief and what I have lost. I want someone to understand that I am not solely mourning the fact that we can’t seem to have children right now. It isn’t only about my fertility issues and whether or not I will carry to term and give birth one day. It is about my children. All three of them. It feels like the whole world wants me to just write them off and try again. Like they don’t count. I don’t care how far along I was–you become a parent the moment that second line appears. I have loved them, prayed for them, talked to them, imagined their futures, made plans. I didn’t get to hold them in my my arms, but I sure as hell held them in my heart. I want people to understand that. How do I make them understand that?

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Just because I try to stay positive….

… does NOT mean I don’t have feelings and you can say whatever you want to me–I am sad and hormonal, and I am not impervious to hateful comments!

Yesterday hubby and I got the chance to spend some quality time with our best friends and their 5 month old son. This is the couple that got pregnant on the first try, had a textbook pregnancy, and their son is a happy, healthy boy. I have worked very hard on not resenting or begrudging them because it is honestly not their fault that it was so easy for them, and I would never wish fertility issues or a miscarriage on someone. I was there her entire pregnancy, giving her support and listening to her whenever she needed to talk. When she had her baby, I organized with some people from our church so they would have a meal brought to them every day for at least a week after they got home from the hospital. Whenever we visited them or went out with them, hubby or I would hold or feed their baby so they got a chance to eat a complete meal in peace. I have honestly loved watching that little man grow, and I am so happy for my friends.

While we were hanging out, my friend made two comments that didn’t sit well with me.

I told her that we have started actively TTC again after our post mc break because she has really been there every step of the way. She and her hubby have been through a lot of our experience with us–being hopeful for us, being sad with us, being frustrated with us, and whenever I get pregnant (see that positive thinking there?) she will be one of the first people I tell. First, she told me that her co-worker is also TTC. Apparently, this girl is super fertile and got pregnant on the first try with one of her kids and got pregnant while on BC with the other one, so my friend is expecting her to announce any time now. This was followed by a comment that went something like this: “So you and (coworker) will probably be pregnant at the same time and I’m going to hate my life because I’ll have to deal with both of you.”

Later in the conversation, we told our friends about hubby’s new life plan. Hubby is currently a mechanic and a volunteer firefighter. In September, he will start fire academy which he is really excited about. It is a 240 hour course–Tuesdays and Thursdays for 7 months, and once he is done, he will have enough certifications to get a full time fire job. If he gets a full time fire job, he will make more money than we make combined right now. So we are hoping that he will be able to get a full time fire job because he loves working with the fire department, and if he gets one, I will be able to quit my job whenever we have a baby. My friend was very upset when she had to go back to work after she had her baby, and when we told her about the awesome opportunity that hubby has right now, she said, “If you get to stay home with your baby and I’m still going to work, I will hate you.”

I’m hesitant to write about these things because it makes my friend sound like she is always hateful and unsupportive, which isn’t true, but this kind of attitude and these comments have become more and more frequent. I know she’s been having a rough time lately (fighting with hubby and PPD) and that makes her negative, but these two comments really cut me down to the very center of my heart. She has essentially had everything handed to her when it came to TTC, and she is not allowed to resent me when I get  pregnant! Am I so wrong to expect the same love and support I gave her? I just can’t believe she would talk about how inconvenient it would be for her if I got pregnant, when she knows what all hubby and I have been through.

I know every person with one of these blogs has stories like this, where someone says something that isn’t very nice in the first place, but it is like a slap in the face when you take into consideration the circumstances. Please excuse me while I go cry in the corner.

-Danielle

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What NOT to Say

It seems like every blog I read that deals with infertility/loss has at least one post on things that you should not say to a woman who is struggling with becoming pregnant or a loss. I wanted to share some things people have said that made me want to punch them in the face were unintentionally hurtful.

  • If it’s meant to be, it will happen:I’m fairly certain this is just something people say when they have no idea what to say. I think people believe this phrase makes them sound wise and empathetic, but I personally think it makes them sound insensitive and a bit moronic. I work in emergency services so I hear lots of horrible stories from our paramedics: babies that die from drug withdrawal because their mothers are addicts, toddlers who are covered in deep burns from their abusive parents, etc. Apparently, it was meant to be for these parents. If I don’t have kids, it’s because I just wasn’t meant to be a parent–obviously, I would be a huge failure at it.
  • All in God’s timing: Similar to the above phrase, this seems to be a phrase that people say when they have no idea what to say because they seem to think it makes them sound not only wise and empathetic, but also deeply spiritual. This is probably the phrase that I resent the most because it suggests I don’t have enough faith to trust in God’s timing and need to be reminded of it. Growing up, I never wanted kids. I thought the girls whose life goals were to grow up and be mothers needed their heads examined. Then something changed. Something I can’t quite put my finger on. I believe it was God working in my heart and calling me to be a mother, and I have a hard time believing that the God I love would call me to something yet keep me from doing it. In fact, I completely reject that suggestion.
  • Just relax–it will happen as soon as you stop trying: It seems like everyone I talk to knows someone who quit TTC and got pregnant. If my progesterone is low, not thinking about it will not magically bring it back up and cause me to get pregnant. Also, how are you supposed to make a big life decision, like having a baby, then not think about it? “Oh yes, I want a baby, but I’m going to pretend like I don’t so that it will actually happen.” You’re right, that makes perfect sense.
  • Just enjoy having sex with your husband: I find this highly offensive because it suggests that the fact that I’m upset about having trouble getting and staying pregnant means that I am not enjoying having sex with my husband. If good sex equaled babies, a lot of people with children would be childless and visa versa.
  • You are so young, you have plenty of time to have kids: I’m not entirely sure why everyone seems to think that 24 is too young to worry about fertility issues. Biologically, I should be at the peak of my fertility–nothing but downhill from here. Yet, despite a year of trying, we still don’t have a baby. Why do people insist that this isn’t cause for concern?
  • (Regarding my miscarriage) You didn’t have a miscarriage, you just had a late period: In the minds of a lot of people, a chemical pregnancy is not considered a miscarriage–it is a late period. According to this train of thought, if I hadn’t taken that pregnancy test, I wouldn’t even know that I was pregnant and therefore, that pregnancy didn’t count. When you spend nine months fruitlessly trying to get pregnant (like my choice of words there?), that second line is a huge cause for excitement and celebration. And no matter how far along you are, losing that piece of hope is devastating. To quote Dr. Seuss, “A person is a person, no matter how small.”

What should you say to someone struggling with fertility issues/loss?

How about, “I can’t possibly understand what you are going through right now, but I am truly sorry you are having to go through this.” That sounds good. Don’t try to relate to people that you can’t relate to–just because your sister’s best friend’s uncle’s first wife had a miscarriage does not mean you understand what I am going through, so stop trying to pretend like you do. You know what I have found the most comforting? A big hug (at an appropriate time, of course–don’t make me cry in the grocery store). You don’t have to say a word, just show me that you care, and you are there for me.

What sayings have you gotten that thoroughly tick you off? Has anyone said/done anything that genuinely comforted and encouraged you?

-Danielle

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