Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sweet conversations

My husband and I have had two meaningful conversations recently that I want to remember always. I am continuously thankful that God has given him to me as a gift, and moments like these bring many happy tears in the midst of the sad ones.

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A couple weeks ago, DH had an emergency situation come up at work that had impacted a large number of his company's customers, and had the potential to effect a lot more. He put in extra hours, and I am so proud to say that he and his teammate came up with the solution (sorry to brag a little :)). His company was so thrilled with this solution that they showed their appreciation by giving him a free day off (he did not have to use any PTO) and sent us out to a nice dinner. Um, yes please! :)

DH took a Friday off and told me he wanted it to be a day we just enjoyed being together. I had already committed to babysitting my friend's 9 month old for the morning, so he just came with me and hung out. We ran some errands that afternoon and also spent some time going over our finances...nothing overtly special or exciting, but special and exciting because we got to do it all together. I kept offering for him to go do something "fun," but he assured me he just wanted a normal day with me. I was in heaven - spending time together doing just about anything definitely says "I love you" to me.

We went out to our fancy dinner that night, all dressed up and feeling like we were pretending to be grown ups. Our dinner was delicious and romantic. We started talking about adoption, and I asked DH one thing that I have hesitated to bring up - is he scared he won't be able love an adopted child like a biological one?

Let me back up here and say that I have hesitated asking this because I know the answer for him is NO. I know he will love our children whole heartedly, whether adopted or biological. But it is just one of those fears that lingers about adoption (and I would guess that everybody who has adopted had this question and fear). I know the answer cognitively, but in my heart I can still doubt that this will be the case. Plus, my DH is simply not a baby and small children person. He is not one to roll around on the floor with our friends' kids, and generally is pretty uninterested in them. So while I know he will love our children, sometimes it is just hard to imagine him with children in general, you know? I always thought he would have 9 months to watch my belly grow and see our baby on an ultrasound to "warm up" to the baby... but with adoption I wondered if we got a call out of the blue and picked up our baby, would he "take" to the baby?

But here, at our special dinner on our special date-day, I asked him this question. His face, his tone, and his words spoke volumes to me to erase any doubt.

He thought for a moment, and said, "Hillary, you know what a softie I am. You know the moment I hold my child in my arms I will be head over heels."

I loved that he used the word "softie," because it's so true! I had never thought of that quality of his in relation to him as a dad (probably because he doesn't interact much with kids), but one thing that is very unique about my husband is that he is very exuberant and outspoken about his affection. :) With me, with his parents, with his friends...all of us KNOW how much my husband cares about us because he tells us. Often. Let's just say I feel like a pretty lucky girl to have a husband who expresses his love so earnestly and so often!

He went on to say, "Actually, I've wondered if that's one reason God may have chosen us to be adoptive parents."

Melt.my.heart. He is so right. Of course we don't know why exactly God has set us on this path, but I think this is a pretty amazing guess in light of his gifts. An adopted child may have more questions about their family (both family of origin and their adopted family) than your average biological child, but I do think that with my husband as their dad they will have no doubt of his love.

So thankful for the ways God has gifted my husband - even if he isn't naturally a "kid person." :)

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This past weekend we attended a marriage conference at our church. In one of the break out sessions, we were instructed to write letters to each other responding to certain themes. After we wrote our letters, we then read them to each other. (Yes, it sounds a little cheesy, but it was actually done well:)

In one part of my husband's letter he wrote that he is committed in his role to lead our family, and one way he would like to grow in this is to lead more as we begin to pursue adoption. (Melt my heart again!). He said he has been absorbing a lot of information that I have read and told him, but he knows this is a huge step for us and that he wants to take a more active role researching with me. And he knows how much it will encourage and help me, too.

I shed happy and thankful tears. Lots of them.

Friday, May 20, 2011

My first counseling session

I was pretty nervous walking into my first counseling appointment today. I was nervous I wouldn't know what to say. I was nervous I wouldn't connect with the counselor, or that she would say something that made me put my guard up. Mostly, I was nervous about how much emotion would spill out, not because I would be embarrassed by it, but I didn't want to have to feel it all.

I'm thankful to report it was a positive experience. I did cry, but not unmanageably so.One huge bonus for the counselor is that she faced infertility, and conceived one child after 3 years and never conceived again. Also, amazingly, her daughter had a long infertility battle and eventually conceived through IVF (and she had her mom in the room with her for one of the procedures!). So it was really great to start off knowing that on a basic level she got it.

Nothing that we talked about felt new to me, but it was validating that she understood and sometimes gave me language for the things I brought up. I felt like I knew myself pretty well and was able to lay my cards out on the table, and she agreed with it all and told me exactly the things we are going to work on. I liked that there were "action items" and goals, and I think it will essentially be accountability and help for me to move forward.

There are a few difficult relationships in my life that were a large part of our conversation. They don't have anything directly to do with infertility, but I think my infertility journey has highlighted that I don't feel supported or understood, and thus I shut down in those relationships altogether. And I feel guilty about it....which I think is a good catalyst, because I don't want to damage these relationships further, I want them to improve! It has felt like this point of our journey - and whether or not I can or will let these people in a little - is a potential turning point. And that needs to start by me communicating what I need and feel. Frankly, it HAS to be a turning point because I don't know how I can proceed with adoption since I will HAVE to communicate about it on some level - it can't be a secret like infertility was.

I'm sorry to be so vague. I haven't written about it before because despite the fact that I try to keep this blog anonymous, people can still find it and figure out my identity (hi, M - haha! :)). And I don't want to write about other people in my life and have them find out my thoughts or feelings about our relationship - especially difficult things - in this way. I am considering moving over to Word Press so that I can potentially password protect specific posts, in which I could write more openly about this. I'll keep you posted. :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Honesty

Thank you all so much for your amazingly thoughtful and encouraging comments on my last post about feeling like a "failure" of an infertile. I loved that some of you said you could relate and that I am not alone, others of you showed me ways that I have blessed or encouraged you, and others pointed me to the truth that in walking with God there is no failure....because I am where he wants me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I also had to chuckle a little at how many of you complimented me for my "honesty" on the blog. I guess I just don't really think about it one way or the other most of the time, but I also can't imagine how I could have this blog and NOT be raw and open. And I also don't really see how my honesty is much different than any other bloggers....so I guess my chuckles were wondering how I sound to others?! That maybe thinking my blog is pretty much like many others is a skewed perspective, and that really I am putting myself way out there. Ha! These are rhetorical questions that I'm not looking for you to answer, it was just funny to think about in light of many of your comments. Thanks for the compliments about my honesty!

In other news, today is my husband's birthday and I had so much fun doing little special things for him. I actually had to leave pretty early in the morning for a work conference, got home on the later side, and we both had our youth ministry small groups tonight, so it was kind of a sad day for a birthday. But this forced me to get a little creative and plan ahead, so I made a "make ahead" breakfast casserole, muffins, and cupcakes somewhat covertly yesterday. I then woke up super early while he slept, heated it up, lit candles, and set a pretty table for him. I was so giddy to go wake him up! He enjoyed his breakfast and the little gift I got him. I also asked a few of his guy friends to meet him for lunch as a little surprise, and when I got home from the conference I brought the cupcakes over to his work. He said he had a special day, and I don't say this to brag about what I did...but it was so joyful and fun to get to plan and prepare little special things for somebody I love! I need to do that more often. :)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

An unsuccessful infertile

The other night we had some new friends over for dinner. They are a couple we have known as acquaintances for quite a while, and when we would greet each other at church we would often say we should get together but never did. The husbands ended up hanging out for quite awhile at a church event recently, and through that discovered a shared bond over our inability to conceive - which led to us having them over for dinner.

The only thing is, they are in the "newly infertile" category. They have been trying for a year, and have done their initial testing which showed no problems so they are "unexplained" at this point. We talked about where they are at in their journey, empathized with them as they vented over the difficulties and frustrations of infertility, and even gave them a whole bunch of vitamins we are no longer taking.

But we did not talk about where DH & I are in our journey. First of all it was too raw and new for me to even talk about. But, really, I didn't want to scare them and show them that you can do all the things you are supposed to do, pray earnestly for years, spend a lot of money, and still come out with no baby at the end. We're the "worst case scenario" they are thinking about, but I wanted to give them encouragement as they begin their infertility journey. Instead, I told them I have talked to a lot of women struggling with infertility, and there is a lot of hope that they WILL conceive. Most people do.

I realized through this that I feel like I have lost my voice in the infertility community. I have read many pregnant/ parenting after infertility (PAIF) blogs where others shared this sentiment - the idea that women still in the trenches of infertility can feel hurt by comments by those who made it to the other side, don't want to read PAIF blogs because it is too painful, or don't feel like they can relate anymore now that the PAIFers are basking in the joy of pregnancy and parenting. For very different reasons, I feel like I am limited in how much I can reach out to those "in the trenches" because I feel like I have a big fat red "F" for failure marking me as one who will not provide encouragement, but will instead remind them of what they have to be scared of. They are scared they will be me one day. I actually think I am worse than those in PAIF land because at least they offer hope that people DO make it to the other side.

This is probably a temporary state. I can imagine that hopefully someday when we are parents through adoption the red "F" will disappear and we will simply be a family that was created a different way - which I think will be a little more hopeful to those in the trenches. But, today, I feel like I am in some limbo land that nobody wants to be in (including me).

And, selfishly, I know they will probably conceive. I want them to conceive, but I honestly don't really want to befriend them as fellow infertiles and then have to watch as they go on to achieve what I could only dream about.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

Another Mother's Day has come and gone - my 4th since we started trying to conceive. Thankfully, the day itself has never been particularly painful or difficult for me, mostly due to the fact that it is not a huge celebration in either of our families or even at church. In DH's and my families, the day involves simple gestures, thoughtful cards, and a loving phone call to our mothers. At church, they made a part of the prayer time for mothers, but they also included those who are hurting this day. Simple and appropriate. I was thankful.

Church was still emotional, however. Not because it was Mother's Day, but it is always a place where I feel like my emotions cannot be buried. It is where the words of Scripture and worship gently massage my aching soul in ways that are healing but raw. It is where the Lord reminds me continually of his love, his faithfulness, and that he is enough. Sundays are good, but Sundays are emotional.

Church is also where I see more pregnant women than you could ever imagine in one place. It is where pregnant women holding babies greet each other, and I sit in my pew watching and feeling like such an outsider to their club. It is where I am reminded that I will never get to show of my expanding belly as I walk down the aisle to take communion.

I am thankful that Sundays are emotional, because I have observed that I am very good at NOT being emotional. At practically ignoring my grief, living my life, and tricking myself into thinking I am ok. I am ok in many senses of the word, but I think I need those emotional times. In light of this, I have also made an initial phone call to set up an appointment with a Christian counselor. As proof to myself that there is a lot going on in my heart (even though I can now go days without even feeling it), simply making the phone call made me feel jittery and brought a full bout of tears. I think it is a good step.

Monday, May 2, 2011

One week

It has been one week since we stopped infertility treatments and moved into a new, unknown, and currently painful season of life.

Last week, I read a post on Mel's blog describing how life-changing infertility is, and that for many of us our lives become separated into pre- and post- infertility categories. She says, "Because for many people, infertility doesn’t have an expiration date. It doesn’t have an end point. It is so huge, so emotional, so life-changing that it becomes an event — a divide in a life and the way we count years — the moment before the diagnosis and the moment after. BD and AD."

After reading that, I realized that last Monday was one of those life-changing days for me. The course of my life changed dramatically, and now my life is in a new category. Yes, this was true for me when we got our infertility diagnosis, but I think my new category trumps that one. I'm not sure what to call it - "Before stopping treatments" and "After stopping treatments," doesn't flow well or fully communicate it. Perhaps "Before Barrenness" and "After Barrenness"? BB and AB?

Definition of BARREN

1
: not reproducing: as a : incapable of producing offspring —used especially of females or matings

My husband has rightfully pointed out that while we will close this door and move forward with our life as though we will not have biological children, it could happen. God could bless us with a pregnancy. He doesn't want me to limit the power of God in my mind, and I agree. But I also need to accept that at this moment in time and with a high likelihood in the future, I am and may always be barren. I never thought of myself as that before; infertile, yes, but I still hoped I would become pregnant. But now I am letting go of that hope.

One week into my new life. In some ways it hasn't been as difficult as I would have thought. I was less emotional than I would have guessed. In other ways, it was shocking how many small reminders - small losses - arose all around me.

Before the last cycle ended, I had wanted and hoped that we would be able to move forward with adoption fairly quickly afterwards. Now that I am here, I am not feeling motivated to do so at all. I think I need time to grieve, but I also think I am so exhausted from it all that I don't have the energy to start a whole new journey. It is also kind of nice to not be waiting for once - I'm not waiting for a new cycle to start, through a two week wait, or even to be matched with a child. I'm just here in the present, which is painful but less demanding. I don't know if this will be one week or one year, but for now we are doing nothing.