Category Archives: Infertility

The Gift of Godchildren–Summer Series with My Pal Laverne, Part II

This blog came to me in fits and bursts over the past month, and I’ve been itching to publish it. But it was never quite complete. I’d poured my heart onto the empty white space, and yet I felt like something was missing. When Laverne and I decided to do a 3-part series this summer, this idea resurfaced while we were brainstorming blog ideas. There was never a moment of hesitation as I pitched my idea: I had the words, could she provide the artwork? There are few people in the world I would trust with such a precious subject matter, and Laverne is at the top of the list. And so, with a full heart, here is part two of our summer series.

♥   ♥   ♥


Excitement jitters just beneath my skin as we turn onto the curvy country road. The sun peeks through the tree limbs, and the horses in the pastures graze in the summer heat. Brian guides our car past farm houses and patches of forest, instantly knowing when to turn into the driveway. As many times as we’ve been here, I still don’t know which house is Jenna’s until we arrive.

Anxious for our day to begin, I leave bags and presents in the back seat and drag my husband to the back door. As soon as I step up onto the stoop, I see that she’s been waiting, and is as eager for our arrival as we are.


She wraps me into a one-armed hug, and it’s like no time has passed at all.

Bub peeks shyly from behind Jenna’s leg, and I know he’ll need a few minutes to adjust to new visitors. I crouch down to his level, keeping my distance, and reach out to ruffle his dark hair. “Hey, buddy,” I say quietly. Noting the graphic on his t-shirt and hoping to draw him out, I say, “Is that a puppy dog on your shirt?” He glances down, long lashes brushing round cheeks, then looks back up, a big grin on his face. “NO!” he says with authority. “Flower!” And he bounds into the kitchen with the excitement only a 2 year old can possess. 

Brian and Jenna are sharing small talk about the weather, the drive, his schooling. I stand by quietly for a moment, fingers itching to hold Baby Girl. Jenna, sensing I’m there, hands me the baby without breaking the conversation. I welcome her weight with surprise. “Who’s a big girl?” I croon. I look at Jenna, eyebrows raised. “It’s only been 4 months! How can she already be this big??”

We settle in at Jenna’s big dining room table, making plans for the day, talking about all we’ve missed in the last few months. 



In what feels like minutes, Bub gallops into the room and announces that he’s hungry. Jenna checks the clock and, just like that, it’s lunch time.

PBJ’s, fresh fruit, and strawberry daiquiri pie are served with a quiet efficiency. Bub eats enthusiastically, occasionally breaking into baby babble, and even serenading his grapes with a rousing rendition of “Old MacDonald.” 



After lunch time comes nap time, and we decide to load the kiddies into the car and let them sleep while we take a quick road trip a few towns over to visit with another family member. No sooner are we out of the driveway than Bub and Baby Girl are snoozing away. Conversation turns to more adult topics: work and life, future plans, bills, mortgages. 

And Buffy. Of course.

We arrive at our play date destination. 



I disappear to grab my camera and as I walk back into the laughter-filled room, my eyes land on Brian. He’s holding Baby Girl, whispering something into her ear. 



Inside, I weep from the pain of being unable to provide him with this in his own life. I push it down, swallow the lump in my throat, and paste a smile on my face. There is time for tears later.

Our two hour play date comes quickly to a close, and it’s time to load back into the car and head to dinner with Jenna’s mom and step-dad. Bub is talkative this time, and so we sing, and we count, and we make animal noises. I glance up into my visor mirror to see Jenna plant a kiss on a squirming, giggling Bub. I laugh.

Dinner feels like a party. We drink margaritas, we share salsa and stories. 



I am simultaneously in the moment, and distracted by the beautiful baby sleeping in her car seat next to me. Bub sits across from me, eating his beans and rice with gusto. Jenna’s husband, Reid, is finally able to join in the fun after a long day at work. 

Conversation turns to Brian, and questions are flying about his upcoming graduation, job prospects, what his future holds. I let their words fall away and turn my focus onto Baby Girl. Thinking no one is watching, I run my finger lightly over her little foot. I straighten her hair bow, and tuck a stray corner of blanket back into it’s rightful place. Just a moment. I wanted just a moment with her. And when it’s over, I rejoin the conversation. 



And the evening rolls on.

As we emerge from the restaurant, the sun and moon are struggling for possession of the sky. It’s a three hour drive back to our house,



We drive Jenna and the kids back home. Gifts are exchanged, a few more pictures are taken, and it’s time to take our leave. I hug and kiss each child soundly, knowing they’ll have grown even more by the next time I get to visit. Brian and I fight over who hugs Jenna last. More waving, hugging, promises of future visits. And then it’s just the two of us again, heading back toward home.

Our headlights pierce the darkness and the tears I’ve fought all day finally come. I cry because my best friend lives so far away. I cry because I’m so happy that we got this time together, however brief. 





It is nearing midnight when we get home. And still, I pull out the memory card from my camera, loading the pictures onto my computer screen. And Brian and I relive our day–all smiles and giggles and songs and love–before heading to bed.

 

Be Enough Me: It’s That Time. Again.

We’ve been down this road before, more than once. Ovulation charts, fertility monitors, basal thermometers. The overwhelming sadness and defeat that comes with negative pregnancy tests. The wave of hope that comes with a new pill. The nights laying awake, imagining the moment when I can finally announce to the world that I am with child.


When Brian got sick in 2010, all those plans went on the back burner.  Birthing plans turned into survival plans. Daydreams about a tow-headed toddler were replaced with nightmares of losing my partner. The constant chirp-chirp-chirp of the monitors were for my husband, battling cancer, not for me, a new baby in my arms. Priorities were rearranged. The bottle of Clomid was shoved into the corner of the medicine cabinet, replaced with pain pills, stool softeners, vitamins and Scarguard. When your husband is fighting for his life, the last thing on your mind is where you are in your menstrual cycle.


Here we are, almost a year and a half after Brian’s surgery, and that familiar yearning, that tug on my heart, that desperate desire to be a mother, has returned.


It never really went away. I’ve always wanted children, for as long as I can remember. We were distracted for awhile, by an ugly monster named Cancer, but that distraction is over. And now, the time to start over, to try again, has arrived.


As the end of the year approaches, and with it, Brian’s graduation from nursing school, my anxiety increases. I point my browser to all those familiar websites, rereading articles on infertility treatments that I could already recite in my sleep. I find myself flipping through the pages of the numerous pregnancy books already on my shelf. My list of baby names has already started growing again. 


Every day, as I jog around our property, iTunes in my ear, my mantra has changed. No longer do I hear “breathe in, breathe out” as my feet pound the ground. Now it’s “baby, baby.” With every inch I lose, every pound I drop, I feel like I’m closer to my goal. Not to fit into a pair of jeans. But to get my body healthy. So I can carry a baby.


At least once a day I find myself standing in front of a mirror, hands on my stomach, lost in a daydream of “what if” and “when.”


For now, the timing still isn’t right. There are tests to be taken, finals to study for, and projects to complete. It gives me time to get myself ready–mentally, physically, emotionally–for the road we are about to travel again. To prepare myself for the roller coaster that goes with trying to get pregnant when you’ve failed so many times before.


For now, we proceed without the aid of doctors. No drugs, no treatments, no hormones. Just us. 


For now, I pour myself into the other children in my life. I am actively spoiling my godchildren…



…and I will continue to champion little Everett, until he is well and home with his family again.


For now, I am simply in the planning stages. Thinking over my strategies. Hoping beyond hope that we won’t need medical intervention. Trying to stamp out my fear of failure and, ultimately, the inability to get pregnant at all. 



I will face my fears and start over. Again. Because I must. Because destiny tells me I must. And because this time, just maybe, we will be successful.



 

Be Enough Me: The Best Present Of All

Every year, when the turkey’s gone, our bellies full, and the dishes done, I start to get that excited, fluttery feeling in my heart. I crave the smells of a Douglas fir, cookies fresh from the oven, wintery air that’s frosty on my nose. My fingers itch to wrap presents, hang ornaments, and write cheerful holiday cards. I start my mornings with flavored coffees–pumpkin and cinnamon and peppermint. Bing Crosby, Elvis, and Harry Connick, Jr. serenade me on a daily basis.

It’s Christmastime. My favorite time of year.

Every year, as the tree goes up in the stand, and the lights are untangled and wrapped around the boughs, there’s a smile in my heart that can’t be erased. Each tiny ornament has such significant meaning, it’s a celebration as I unwrap each one. “Here’s the one from the year we got married!” I exclaim. Or “This is the first one you ever bought for me!” And “Oh, I forgot about this one! Look, Brian! It’s the silly kitty with the flowerpot on his head!”

Others hold more emotional memories: the white angel holding a kitten for the spring when Eddie died, the glass ornament with the cancer awareness ribbon bearing the date of Brian’s surgery. These baubles bring tears to my eyes each time I see them.

Each ornament is placed on the tree with care. Silver balls and glass crystals are added as the perfect light catchers. The blue bow goes on top, and the snowy white tree skirt below. Now comes my favorite part.

We turn off all the lights in the house, except the tree. We stand back, hand in hand, and just look. Music plays quietly in the background. A cat sniffs at a low-hanging branch, feigns indifference, and curls up beneath it instead. The blue lights are cool, bringing winter to our mild, warm climate. In silence we stand, contemplating. I’m sure Brian is looking at his handiwork, looking for gaps or blank spots, searching with his eyes to find an imperfection he can fix.

My eyes fill with tears as I think about the child we are without again this year. My heart breaks a little more. My arms ache. I wonder if we’ll ever have the chance to share all this love with a child of our own.

“What do you think? Should we add one more strand of lights?” my husband’s voice rocks me from my reverie. I look at him, bathed in blue light, a smile on his face. My hearts swells, heals, fills.

I know there will be a night sometime soon when I’m at home alone. I’ll turn off all the lights, lay beneath the boughs of my Christmas tree, and weep: for the child that wasn’t created this year, for the emptiness of my womb, for another Christmas gone by without the laughter of children to fill our home. That will be the night that I allow myself to feel those feelings I stamp down on most every other night of the year.

But tonight? Tonight there is too much joy in this room to dwell on sadness. I sigh, wrap my arms around my husband, and say, “If we add many more lights, they’ll be able to see us from the International Space Station.”

“Isn’t that the goal?” he jokes. And I silently thank the fates that I still have him in my life. My husband, my partner, my best friend…the best present of all.

* * * * * * * * *

 

Every MONDAY join us… 
Write, post, link-up, share your story and your voice.
Be part of carrying the weight of confidence and share our mission
to empower, inspire, and remind 
women, parents and children
that the time has come to celebrate ourselves!

Be Enough Me: Learning to Love Myself

I write a lot of funny blogs. I make silly faces at the camera, I photoshop myself into funny situations, I tell you humorous anecdotes from my life. I love to laugh, and I laugh a lot. My life is filled with love, and laughter, and family. For that I am blessed a thousand times over.

But the truth is, some days it’s really hard for me to think of something funny to say. Some days I can’t seem to find anything in my life to shine a light on, for my blog’s sake.

I know that, a lot of the times, I throw myself under the funny bus just to get a laugh. I’m often times critical of myself, but in a way that seems humorous. The truth behind the clown mask, though, is that more than one day a week, I wake up feeling “less than.” Unworthy. Hidden. Like the words I write are only to be lost in a sea of other voices, and mine is the one drowning while others are clawing their way to the surface to be seen.

Despite my 30 years on this earth, and the love and admiration I have for so many people in my life, I think I still struggle with learning to love myself. There are so many aspects of “ME” that I joke about, make light of…but those aspects often weigh on me like so many stones.

My weight.

Infertility.

Dreams that go unfulfilled year after year.

Insecurities.

Most days I am happy. Most days I can find humor in the world. Most days I love everything about my life.

But…

At least once a day I think about the fact that I don’t have a child yet.

At least once a day (usually many more times than that) I chastise myself for being overweight, and for not being diligent enough to do something about it permanently.

At least once a day I wonder how someone else will react to what I say or what I do, and if that will color their opinion of me to a different, unfavorable shade.

At least once a day, I dream of the little house in the country with a fence and a garden and a swing set and a pretty kitchen that I don’t have (yet.)

I worry that I’m being selfish. That I’m not enough.

But I am enough.

I cook and clean and make life easier for my husband, who is working towards his nursing degree.

I spend quality time with my family: bonding with my dad over a glass of wine and a bubbling pot of red sauce; helping my mom design the perfect beaded key chain; laughing with my brother over any and everything.

I strive to be a good friend: sending cards, little gifts, photos. Calling to check in often. Dropping off casseroles to those who need the comfort. Loving them, each one, with every inch of my heart. I snuggle and kiss and spoil their babies as if they were my own (even when it breaks my heart, just a little, each time.)

I do my job. I write my blog. I stay busy. I make others lives easier, more enjoyable.

I am enough.

Even on days when I think I’m not.

JustBeEnough.com is a site that focuses on telling empowering stories of women, written by women. It’s mission is to inspire women to remember to celebrate themselves. This month they are fighting the good fight against cancer. For every 20 link ups this month, Bellflower Books will donate $75 toward a 20-page memory book for a family fighting breast cancer. Feel free to link up and help their worthy cause! And thanks to Jen at The Misadventures of Mrs. B for giving me the idea to participate!

An Answer to that Age-Old Question

You’ve been asked this question a hundred times–in late night conversations with your significant other, at dinner parties after a few glasses of wine, on your way home from school by your childhood friend. Everyone has an answer to this question, and usually one of them is, “I’d wish for three more wishes!” The question:

If you had three wishes, what would you wish for?

If I were to answer that question off the top of my head, with little to no thought, my wishes would be 1) a baby, 2) a car, 3) a house. Period, the end, that’s all folks.

But what’s the fun in that?

So I decided to put some serious thought into the question, and here’s what I came up with.

What? It’s my fantasy, and in my fantasy, Donnie Wahlberg is the genie.

Wish #1: Smoosh South Carolina and Nevada together in such a way that it’s less than a 15 minute drive to visit Brian’s family. (Please be mindful of the coast. I know we’ll lose a lot of it, but we’d still like to visit the beach. Thank you.)

South Nevolina?  South Carolada?
Yes I’m aware that it would affect more than just our lives. I’m aware that the people in Myrtle Beach with ocean-front property would not be happy with me, or Donnie the Magnificent Genie. But it would be nice to be closer to family. And it’s my fantasty. So there.
(On re-examination, it would appear that perhaps requesting a cheaper, faster form of transportation, like a teleportation device, might be wiser. But it would have to be user-friendly. And relatively unbreakable.)
Wish #2: Make the whole stork thing real. Like, a real company where you can order babies (after passing the background check and mandatory written exam, of course.) 
 
Imagine the heartache this would heal!! For deserving, wanting couples desperate to start their families—this could be the answer. Just submit your order form, wait a few days, and welcome that stork (or dog. Or mailman. Or friendly cartoon character.) with open arms. Voila! Instant family.
And did I mention it’s FREE? (Just pay shipping and handling. And the cost of treats. For the dog.)
Wish #3: I started to say world peace. (What can I say, the pageant girl in me runs deep.) Then I thought about it and decided, no…what I REALLY want is world happiness.
 
Look at all the happy!
Sure, world peace would be great! But would it solve all the world’s problems. Probably not. So I decided to take it a step further and ask my genie for world happiness. It covers a whole spectrum of problems: famine, disease, war, joblessness, pollution, property taxes….if you’re sad/worried/upset/anxious about something–never fear! POOF! World Happiness is here!
I think I’ve done enough good for the world today. How would YOU spend your three wishes?
PS: If anyone finds a gold lamp, like the one pictured above, and you suspect there MAY be a Donnie Wahlberg Genie inside, please send it to me. I promise to change one of my wishes into making you a Princess. (Or Prince. Or whatever else you choose.)

Letter To My Daughter

Dear Daughter,

As I write this, you don’t yet exist. No matter how we yearn for you, imagine you in our arms, dream of you, you haven’t arrived yet. I think about you everyday and wonder what your face looks like, what color your eyes are, whether your hair is curly or straight. I can imagine you with light blond curls and blue eyes as easily as I can imagine you with dark hair, straight and thick, and eyes the color of dark chocolate.

You should feel pretty lucky to already be loved so much when you haven’t even been conceived yet. I know your Daddy will spoil you rotten. He will teach you how to play video games, and how to fix a computer, and how to run from the tickle monster. I promise to teach you how to bake Mommy’s Famous Cheesecake, and how to chop garlic, and how to spell “onomatopoeia” (I had to look it up just now, so I’ll teach me first, then I’ll teach you.) We will instill in you our love for animals, our dreams for our country, and probably our irrational (Daddy’s word, not mine) fear of spiders.

I have so many dreams for you, little girl. I dream for you a world where saving the environment is second nature, not a fad. I dream for you a society that accepts you just the way you are, whether you choose to wear dresses and ribbons and ballet shoes, or dirty cutoffs and baseball caps and sneakers. I dream for you a passion that will last you a lifetime–be it dancing or writing or reading or softball or painting or drawing or singing or whatever else you can think of. I dream for you a country that understands the value of education, where science and math are fun and important. I dream for you the courage to find beauty within yourself, no matter what the magazine covers say you should look like. I dream that you will find a love as big as the love I have for your Daddy, and that you can feel safe, cherished, and comfortable in it. My daughter, how I dream for you.

I have so many promises to make to you, little girl. I promise to only sing to you at bedtime as long as you think I have a beautiful voice–when you say it’s annoying, I’ll cry a little inside, but I promise I’ll stop. I promise that we will laugh together more often than we will cry together, but when we do cry together, I will hold you up and stroke your hair and try to right the wrongs that hurt you. I promise not to freak out the first time you ask to paint your nails green, even though it will make you look like you have a fungus. I promise to teach you the alphabet game, where I draw the letters on your back with my finger, and you guess what they are. I promise to tell you the story of how I met your father, and how we fell in love, so you can learn all about healthy, strong, unconditional love. I promise that, no matter where your passion leads you, I’ll be there in the front row, cheering you on louder than anyone else, with signs and balloons and maybe even a megaphone (this will embarrass you to the point of frustration, but I promise you, one day you’ll understand why I was so excited.) I promise to teach you the words to “Inch Worm” and “Bushel and a Peck” and “You Are My Sunshine.” I promise to let you lean on your Daddy when I wish you’d lean on me–I did that with my father and I know you’ll do that with yours. I promise to be your Mom first, and your friend second. I promise I’ll try my best not to embarrass you by showing your first boyfriend baby pictures of you, but I won’t be able to help it because I have them framed all over the house anyway. I promise to love you, accept you, appreciate you, and never, ever take you for granted.

I can’t wait for you to get here, little girl. Oh, how we’ll laugh and play and sing and dance and live. I know that it may be awhile before we meet, and that we’ve already waited for so long. But when you think about the life we’ll have together, doesn’t it seem worth it? So, until we meet, my daughter, I’ll keep dreaming of you.

All my love,
Mom

Source