Friday, August 28, 2009

Empty Arms

Infertile followers, check out this link. It leads to a video about infertility.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Taking a break from sanity to battle some demons...

*Warning, this is a LONG post. I've actually been working on it since May. I would get frustrated and add to it, then calm down and edit it some more. With the return of my recent demons I became determined to finish this post and hopefully be able to move beyond these issues.

I love telling people we are looking to adopt. I don't mind telling people that we are infertile, I can even joke about it (we have no sperm in our marriage!). But that's about all I can do. I wish I could find the words to describe our infertility, how it makes us feel, how it has changed us and how it affects our day to day life. Maybe if I could talk about it, then people could understand us better, why we have hard days, what causes them, why I sometimes get angry and why I sometimes (okay, all the time) get offended so easily.

A few years ago I dropped into a deep, dark place. I wasn't a mother and thought my life was over. What was the point of living if I couldn't be a mother? I wasn't happy. I would go days with endless crying and other days just feeling numb so I wouldn't cry. It was hard to function. When I was around people I was angry, mean, hurtful, (please continue this list as you like). I thought I could never be happy again, unless I was a mother, but who would give a baby to a bitter person like me?

One of the biggest things that helped turn my life around was joining some support groups. I started meeting other people like me. They too couldn't have babies, and therefore their dreams couldn't come true. I heard stories very similar to mine and stories that were more painful than mine. But I also gleamed hope and faith from these friends. They had found a way to move on with their lives and I could too.

Prayer, hope, faith, time and a loving husband are what pulled me through. I was able to find other reasons to be happy. I was able to restore my faith that I can still be a mother someday. I was able to repair some of the damaged relationships I had sabotaged. I was able to rejoice with my friends as I watched their dreams come true.

I have come a long ways, but infertility is not something you can ever recover from. It will always be a part of my life, it will always be my demon. I have reached the point where I can celebrate new births. I don't think I celebrate them as much as others do, but I no longer dread them. I no longer try to ignore them. I no longer fall apart when they happen. But even as I smile to welcome a new little life, silently my heart is breaking inside of me.

I think that is where some of the misunderstanding comes from. "She must be okay, or she wouldn't have come," is what I fear they say behind my back. But those milestones that pregnant women get to celebrate are road blocks that I have to navigate past. I'm okay that I can't get pregnant... until they start talking about the good moments like hearing the heart beat of the very first time, feeling them kick, seeing them move on an ultrasound and talking about their first moments in this world. Then my demons start to haunt me again.

When families around me started to grow and therefore things started to change, I became angry. They didn't do those kind of things before! They didn't own stuff like that before! I let this eat me up for a long time. I convinced myself that this stuff was happening because they loved these people more than us. It took me a long time to realize what it was really about.

Of course they didn't have toys or traditions like that before. They had no children in their lives before so what was the point. Of course things would change after babies started to enter the family, with those new additions came changes to how things were.

Each time I come to these new revelations, I just have to battle my demons. I just can't immediately accept these new understandings. They make sense and I know I should be okay, but I still have to fight my way to acceptance and peace. Sometimes it takes days and sometimes it takes weeks.

Entering into the adoption world brought so many insecurities. The first (and biggest) stress is, will a birth mom ever find us, fall in love with us, and choose us to parent her child? But those thoughts led to others and eventually I started to question EVERYTHING about myself. What do I know about being a mom? Why do I have to wait for someone to think I am good enough to raise a child? What if they don't like (insert odd quirks here) about me? What if we never get chosen? I'm not cool/pretty/smart/talented/etc. to be chosen. Why must the waiting be so long? Why must the waiting be so HARD?

I was thinking of those issues the other day and I am struggling to over come them. When we did our paperwork, the hardest thing to do was the birth mom letter. We had two pages to talk about ourselves and why we thought we could be great parents. We agonized over the letter and I think we rewrote each line about a dozen times. I kept thinking that if our families read it they would point things out that they didn't like.

After it was finished I had a few copies and a friend picked one up and started reading. My heart jumped out of my chest. I DIDN'T want her to read it. I couldn't understand why. I knew that strangers would be reading my letter and I was okay with it, but I was afraid of what this person would think. When we had family proof read it, I was terrified of what they would say. "That's not exactly true", "Why would you describe stuff that way", "Do you really do that?"

I also started to stress over what people would think when our family grew through adoption. Would they love our children just as much as they would have if they had been physically born into our family? What if biological children were loved more than our adopted children. I really struggled with this. My heart broke over the "what ifs".

Which leads to my newest battle. I just assume that people should care about how we are doing and that they should do something to show they are thinking about us. Then when that doesn't happen, I get mad and declare that I KNOW they don't like me. I have convinced myself that if people don't ask about our adoption, it's because they don't care and it has caused me such heartache. I know this isn't really true, but in my mind all I can hear is "they don't care about you." It may sound silly, but I have lost sleep over this.

After stewing over this for, well probably near to FOREVER, I realized something. Maybe it's hard to talk about the unknown. Maybe it's hard to speculate about something that isn't a guarantee. Maybe they don't want to get our hopes up and give us false hope. Maybe they DO care, but they don't know how to show it.

I've been stewing over this new concept for a few weeks now. It makes sense, or at least I know it should. But I think I have lived with this self doubt for so long that I can't shake it off yet. I've spent so long telling myself that no one cares that I think I have come to believe it. I'm trying to change my way of thinking, but those doubts creep right back in.

And yet each day as this battle goes on, I seem to gain a little ground. Sometimes its the actions of others that gives me understanding. Sometimes it is me, finally succumbing to the will of the Lord.

Sometimes it is a matter of sincere, deep, and long prayers just asking for this burden to be taken from me. I have felt those prayers being answered. I've had moments where I thought "what if..." Then I obsess over it. "If I could just have this experience, I would be okay." And yet I know those are experiences I can't have. So then I just ask for the desire to be taken from me. And it has worked. I'm not asking for the desire of motherhood to be taken, just moments, like hearing heartbeats.

Infertility is not going to break me. I am learning to live with it, learning to deal with the heartache it brings into my life. Some days it doesn't affect me and some days I still have moments where it paralyzes me, but I think I have finally reached the point where I don't revolve around it every waking (and sleeping) moment of my life. Infertility has become a part of who I am, but I don't need to let it be the only thing that I am.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Paper Pregnancy vs. Belly Pregnancy

Infertility has taken the opportunity to speculate about children. I hate it that when someone is expecting, everyone can wonder about the baby. Will she look like mom or dad? Will he be blond or brunette? Will she look like her sister or brother? I always want to remind people that we too are expecting. Sure we don't have a due date. Really, we don't know a single thing about our potential child. But they are in our hearts. We dream about them every night. We talk about them every day. We want to share this experience with everyone.

I guess it's hard to speculate about the unknown. With a pregnancy, the parents and family can talk about upcoming events. "Just think, next Christmas, baby won't be in your belly anymore and will be here to celebrate with us." We don't get that luxury. We have spent many holidays now thinking "next year..." But with adoption, we really don't know that our baby will be here by Christmas, or by any certain date for that matter.

I just feel so left out. Everyone will start talking about future events and such and they always include those who have a bun in the oven, but not about those who are paper pregnant. Do they think it will never happen? Or do they think that it might hurt to mention the fact that not only are we childless, but also we are waiting on the unknown world of adoption to help our family grow? I really think it is the second reason, but it's still hard to deal with.

I want to sit around the dinner table and talk about how our child will have a seat at it someday. Will they have dark curly hair to go with their brown eyes? I want to speculate if our child will be daddy's hunting buddy or mommy's little girl. I want to feel like our family is thought about, hoped for and dreamt about.

An adoptive friend of mine recently posted about this same subject on her blog. Check it out HERE. She was able to describe so many of my thoughts and feelings about waiting in the background of expectant motherhood. She talks about a friend who is expecting a baby through adoption and was just matched with a birth mom. Now this friend wants to start preparation work on the nursery. Some are hesitant to help her because they are fearful the adoption will fall through and not take place.

We live with that fear too, and we aren't even matched with a birth mom yet. It's one of the risks we take by trying to have our family grow through adoption. But all methods of reaching mother hood are risky. I have friends that have suffered miscarriages, still births, and early births that resulted in death. But they were all mothers. They all celebrated their pregnancy, speculated about their children and made preparations for their arrival. And then tragically their children were taken from them.

As an expectant adoptive mother why shouldn't I be allowed to act the same. We are anxiously awaiting our child. Why can't that be celebrated and talked about? If we have an adoption fall through we are going to mourn no matter what. Just because our child isn't in my belly, doesn't mean we love it any less. Our child is growing in our hearts.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Surrounded by mothers

I had an experience this weekend, and even though I'm still not sure what to think of it, I wanted to write it down.

I struggled off and on for the last few weeks about still being childless. Some days the waiting just seems to be too much and I want to give up. I was on the mountain waiting for Josh to call me back and in the quite of my car, I once again found myself pouring out my heart and soul to my Heavenly Father.

"Why must we wait so long?"

"What am I supposed to be learning from this?"

"Will we be parents soon?"

"Why can't I just be a mother already?"

In the midst of all my questions, I looked up at the road. A deer was crossing the road. Halfway across she looked back to watch her fawn cross with her. When she reached the other side of the road, she stopped again to make sure the fawn was still with her.

I don't believe this was coincidence. I believe that I needed to be reminded that motherhood happens in nature. Once again, I was able to find the peace that I go looking for so often.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Alma 17: 2-3

I'm really trying today to remember that I am grateful for my infertility. I KNOW that we are supposed to adopt. It is something that is burned in my heart and soul. And yet, sometimes I still feel like I am missing out because I can't get pregnant.

While looking for an article for my Finding Faith Friday I came across Alma 17. I am getting better at relating to the scriptures.

Alma 17:2-3
" 2 Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.

3 But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God."

I don't want to quote the scriptures incorrectly, but when I read the above scriptures I felt, in my heart, a few things.

1. Alma rejoiced to see his brethren because they shared something in common. A few weeks ago I was rejoicing because I finally got to meet several of the people from the group. It was so rewarding to be surrounded by so many that had gone through the struggle of infertility. Some have been able to finally have the family of their dreams through adoption, and some are still waiting for that miracle. But I was happy for every one of them because we understand each other, we've all had to live with the pain of infertility.

2. Alma and his brethern searched the scriptures. When we were approved to adopt I couldn't get enough information. I wanted to know EVERYTHING about adoption. I have learned a lot, but there is still so much more for me to learn.

3. I have spent countless hours on my knees in prayer with my Heavenly Father asking Him to help me accept his will. Because of that I have come to know that we need to adopt and over time it has made the pain of infertility lessen. Both Josh and I believe that we were preordained in Heaven to adopt. Of course, we can't remember that, but because of all my prayers I have come to believe that to be true. Our Heavenly Father HAD a plan for our family. OUR Family is going to be amazing, but first we must come to terms with our suffering, learn to accept His will and His timetable.

4. When Alma and his brethern taught, they TAUGHT with power. They were passionate about the word of God. I feel the same about adoption. It is my passion. I love telling people about how it has changed, how it has touched so many lives, how it will bless our family. If I run out of time to talk, I give them my email and tell them to contact me so I can tell them more.

I still have my days when I struggle with infertility. Some days I can quickly move on. Other days I almost have to relive the pain for a little while. I don't know why. But usually at the end of my revisited grief I can remember just how blessed I am.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Life lessons from infertility

Something happened this week that kind of upset me. It wasn't adoption related but within minutes I was comparing this experience to my infertility trying to figure out how I need to accept what was happening.

When we were still trying to get pregnant, each month was a blow to my heart. My period would be late, so I would get excited and take a pregnancy test. But they were always negative. I reached the point where I thought the only way I could be happy was to become pregnant. I thought if that never happened, then my life would be worthless. I LIVED TO SEE THOSE TWO LITTLE PINK LINES.

But then we started to think adoption, and I knew that I could be happy again. I didn't have to get pregnant to be a mother. I can still have little children running up and down the hallway of our home.

So when my heart was troubled earlier this week I realized that even though we thought things would happen a certain way and now they won't, it's okay. God has something else in mind and when we finally realize what His plans are, we will be happy with how things turned out.

I received this email, well who knows when. I've been holding on to it for quite a while and thought I would post it here. Maybe to some it makes no sense to relate it to infertility, but it sums up how I feel today.

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
When you figure out which it is, you will know exactly what to do.

Some people come into our lives and quickly go
Some people become friends and stay a while
leaving beautiful footprints on our hearts
and we are never quite the same
because we have made a good friend.

When someone is in your life for a reason, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on.

When people come into your life for a season, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.

Lifetime relationships teach you lifetime lessons; those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person or people involved; and put what you have learned to us in all other relationships, and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

May today there be peace within you.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received,
and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing that you are a Child of God.
Let His presence settle into your bones,
and allow your soul the freedom to sing,
dance and to bask in the sun.
It is there for each and every one of you.