Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dedicated to my grandma

I recently joined an online support group for childless Mormon's. Its been wonderful to connect with others like myself. A recent email passed through the group and I loved it.

"I think the problem with praising women as mothers is that the way it is phrased. Trying to parse into more mathematical/logical basis
A=B, B=C, A=C
A woman is a mother.
Mothers should be praised.
Therefore a woman should be praised.

The problem is that A is often not true and so you get the question if a woman isn’t a mother, should she be praised? If a woman is not a mother, is she still a woman, or is she now something less, not quite human?" (Comment by tami — May 23, 2011 @ 9:39 pm)

"Non-mothers aren’t hurt that mothers are being praised, they are hurt about the assumption that woman must be mothers." (Meridith's addition to the above comment)

I have struggled so much with this. I wasn't a mother, so what was I? I felt like I was of little importance to others if I couldn't be a mom.

Here's my moment of truth. Bare and raw honest truth. Ever since my mother in-law and my own mother became grandma's, I have felt like they didn't need me anymore. I have felt like if I can't give them grandchildren, they will just brush me aside and forget about me.

In trying to protect my heart, I've acted out on this. It seemed easier to cut them out, before they cut out me. I didn't do it purposely, but on some mental and emotional level, I did what I thought best to protect my heart. I pulled back and tried to disappear.

I am blessed with amazing in-laws who didn't let me get away with that. They seemed to know when I needed my space. But they also seemed to know when I needed them to urge me back. I was constantly testing my relationship with them, but they never gave up on me. It has been such a relief to not fight against their love anymore.

With my family it has been different. It was easy to be involved at first. After all, my sister and I were both expecting at the same time. So even if I didn't get to give my family the first grand baby, I would be very close behind.

Then halfway through the pregnancies, we were no longer expecting. I couldn't find a way to co-exist while my sister was still expecting. It hurt too much to remember what almost was. When my nephew was born, I struggled so much. I felt like I was crying out, but was being ignored. I think now that I wasn't speaking the same language, in a matter of speaking. My absolute quietness was not me asking to be left alone (well, sometimes it was), but really it was a plea to be noticed. To be acknowledged. I didn't become a mother last summer, but I was still a person. I just wanted someone to notice that. Not acknowledge me as an aunt or anything else, but just acknowledge me and that I still existed. That I was still of worth somehow. I admit, I buried my heart deep, but it was still there.

This is where I dedicate this post to my grandma. I saw her last week for the first time in a long time. The last time she came out, my nephew was only days old. The same nephew that was 2 days younger then our almost baby. I wasn't stable enough to put myself in that position. So I didn't go see my grandma.

I knew she would be out for my nephew's birthday, and I was a little nervous. What would we say to each other? Would I even be noticed? I know it was a party for my nephew, not me. I didn't want all of the attention, I just wanted to be noticed. That's actually a big reason I agreed to make two full size cakes. If for no other reason, those cakes would get me noticed, even if for just a second. What can I say, I cry out for attention in odd ways.

Thank you grandma for noticing me. Thank you for spending so much time visiting with me. I agree that your great grandson is a cutie, but thank you for not evolving around just him. Thank you for asking about my weight loss, my hair, my job, my crafts, my husband, etc.

Here's another moment of truth. In years past, I would have let that visit be enough. But I felt so alive after that visit, that I made a point to go see her again the next night after I got off work. I think my 2nd visit surprised her just as much as it did me. Again, it was a wonderful visit.

I got home that night and noticed the change. I'm not scared of my family anymore. Those two visits gave me so much healing. Thank you grandma.

Ramblings of happiness

Since closing our profile, life seems to be amazing. I'm so glad we finally made the decision. I have joy in new ways and I just have a new energy for life.

I'm able to enjoy being around family again. It may sound harsh, but for a while, I didn't like to be around them. I didn't like seeing others happy when I was so miserable. But I've been able to find ways to share their happiness. I wasn't able to make it to all of Preston's t-ball games, but I made it to one and I'm going to his last one tonight. For a minute, it sounded like the game would be cancelled and I was heartbroken.

Josh's brother is dating someone pretty seriously. We all love her and hope he'll make her a permanent part of the family. In my depression days, that would've just upset me because another marriage means more babies. But now it means, more nieces or nephews.

I can't believe how much I love my nephews. When the pregnancy of the 4th one was announced, I told myself it was time to scale back on the gifts. Between me and Josh we have 5 siblings. Only 2 of them have started having kids so far and we're already up to 4 nephews. Even if each only has 2 kids, that is still 10 nieces and nephews. I go to buy a shirt, and 10 shirts later I'm forcing myself to check out. How will I manage as their families keep growing? I enjoy buying the gifts too much to stop myself. It brings me joy to give them something.

Earlier this year, I told myself I would just spend a set amount on each nephew for their birthday. And I was trying to set a limit for Christmas, but I don't want to. So I've decided, I don't need to. That's the great thing about being an aunt, I can spoil them however I want. And the added bonus of not being a parent means I have that much more to spend. I'm sure if we had children I would have to spend less on the nephews. I'd probably have to stick with just a small gift for birthday's and Christmas. But I don't have kids of my own, so I can spend my money elsewhere. I can buy them shirts for Easter and Halloween and just because.

We've always had the freedom of being just the two of us, but we didn't start to really use it until this last year. One day josh came home from work and suggested we go to Lagoon the next day. We didn't have to worry about kids and schedules, we could just go. On the way home that night, we got stuck in traffic behind an accident. We ended up having to get a hotel. At least we didn't have to worry about the kids staying at a sitters that night. Or trying to entertain them in a small hotel room.

This last Sunday we decided to get up at 4 am and go fishing. We stayed until we were tired and ready to go home. This weekend we are going to a Wii party. Those usually last until 1 am (or later). I love that we can all stay as late as we want because none of us have to rush home to the kids.

I've been scrapbooking a lot lately. I love that I can do that or any other craft whenever I want. You hear of people who have 3 kids, and just barely scrapbooked the birth of the oldest kid. I would've loved to have been able to scrapbook my own kids, but I do like that I will never fall that far behind. Well, ok, I am a little behind, but I'm almost caught up. I look at those pictures of family and nephews and it just warms my heart all over. I'm so glad I can have those memories preserved in pages forever.

I usually clean my house real good on Fridays. Then the rest of the week I slack. Its not a huge deal, because its just me and the hubs to get it dirty. But this week, I decided to try to clean a little each night. Here it is, only Wednesday, and already my house is clean. I can relax (and craft) on Friday! Laundry, I can do it in half a day. A full day when I wash bedding. Not many other people can say that.

I can sleep in late on days I don't have to work. I can stay up as late as I want. I can have cereal for dinner if I want. I can watch what I want to on the TV. I can exercise whenever I want. I can take long soaks in the bath on a daily basis. I'm starting to see all the finer points of living as a family of two and I'm really enjoying them.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Time to let go

The irony is not lost on me that on our almost baby's birthday, I was decorating a birthday cake, for a different baby. I've tried to forget the fact that I have a nephew 2 days younger then our almost baby. I try to not think about the things our baby would be doing when I know he is growing and learning in the same ways. I try to pretend that it never happened.

But it did happen. A year ago a brave young women gave birth and then placed her baby with a family and in doing so affected so many lives. Sometimes I feel guilty for my pain, because I know it is nothing compared to her pain. I tell myself I have no right to hurt because she was never really my baby. But the chance at... almost, does hurt.

I have kept so many things inside because I'm afraid to share. Afraid I'll offend. Afraid that it will make the pain even greater. But I want this 1st birthday to be my last day of mourning. I hope after letting it all out, I can turn around, look forward and never look back.

It was so hard to loose a baby, even if it wasn't one we naturally conceived. I have a new level of understanding for those who miscarry. Loosing a baby is like having your heart ripped out. And then the world just walks all over your broken heart because they don't understand just how much it hurts. We never heard a heart beat. But that didn't stop us from loving and dreaming about a little girl to join our family.

A month after being unchosen, my mom called to say my sister might have to go on bed rest. Might. All I could think was "well, at least she still gets to have a baby in June. Who cares about some bed rest?" I was so mad after that, that I couldn't go to the Josh's annual family breakfast or Easter dinner. I ignored plans for a baby shower because I didn't want to think about my own baby shower I would never get.

The Internet is wonderful and terrible all at the same time. I knew the day the baby girl was born. The next day I sat in church and all I could think was "This is my first day as not the mom." I cried silent tears that no one could see. The next day while a birth mom signed the papers to make someone else parents, my nephew was born. I went to the hospital, but all I could think was, "I shouldn't be here. I should be holding my baby in a different hospital." And no one knew how I was crumbling inside.

I had days where I couldn't get out of bed it hurt so much. When we were first unchosen, Josh and I were in a loving moment when suddenly we both just broke down in tears. We couldn't even enjoy a moment of joy because the pain was so strong,.

One day while doing dishes, I fell to the floor and just bawled. Life was so unfair. It wasn't even worth living anymore, not with this kind of pain. It was in its own way, a moment of wakening. I was deep in depression and I needed to change so I didn't sink lower.

After that, I tried to ignore the pain. She was never our baby after all, right? But that just made it worse. I kept things bottled up so long, that eventually they would explode out without notice. One day I spilled a drink and that seemed to unleash it all. A kicked bucket, a knocked over trash can and a broken toe later, I realized I couldn't hold it in.

Then my husband found a new job. An amazing job that made us both happy and paid a lot better then the previous job. But it was a job that took him out of town during the week. There were so many nights I cried myself to sleep because my house was so quite and so empty.

I reached the point where I realized I couldn't follow both of the two moods in my life. I couldn't grieve when alone and then pretend all was right when I was around others. I needed help moving through the grief process.

I thought only unstable people need therapy. I was too strong to need help. I read online of a few others experiences of infertility depression and how counseling helped them move on. But I still couldn't make myself admit I needed help.

When Halloween came and went and I didn't do my big Halloween dinner, I realized that I was stuck deep in depression. I couldn't even enjoy my favorite things anymore. I tried to get myself in the moment, but the thought of having a dinner with all those people there to look at me, I couldn't do it. I couldn't pretend to be happy.

I had become terribly afraid of people. I couldn't go anywhere. What if they asked questions? What if they didn't and ignored me? What if I lost it and cried? I had become a prisoner in my heart and therefore my home.

I finally broke down and made an appointment. Then I chickened out and cancelled a few days later. Only weak people need help. Then I went through another long week of tears. I wish I hadn't of waited so long to get help. I think things could have gone a little smoother if I had gone to counseling sooner. I wanted to go on anti depressants, but Josh didn't like the idea. I did make it through so I guess depression can be done without meds, but sometimes I wish I had tried them, it might have helped me be more stable in my moods. Counseling did help, but I've still been to afraid to admit that I needed it. Only a few people know about it. I didn't even tell work why I needed an hour off once a week.

Since finishing counseling, things have been better. I think I've only had two breakdowns since then, which is better then once a day or once a week. Both breakdowns happened at church. Its hard to go to church that is so strong on families.

One Sunday they were talking about death. It came up in Sunday School and Relief Society, so I got a double shot of it. Everyone was talking about how hard it is to loose a loved one, but how grateful they are for Heaven and how they know they can see them again someday. How they are grateful for the temple and that they are sealed together as a family. How they didn't understand how people outside of our religion get through a loss thinking they are dead and gone forever.

That's a luxury I don't get. I had lost a baby I loved and I will never get that back. Never. That is how my pain differs from a miscarriage. At least in a miscarriage I would get a chance to raise my baby in the next life, but it wasn't actually my pregnancy. I wanted to stand and how tell them I do know what its like. It is the most horrid thing ever to loose a loved one and know you will never see them again. Never.

The other breakdown was on Easter. Josh's family all lives in the same ward so I'm not usually alone at church. But that Sunday I was. I didn't know it, but my mother in-law was home doing farm chores and reading a book and my nephews were visiting their other grandparents. I didn't know that. I thought they were all together hunting Easter eggs. I was so mad that I wasn't there too. I will NEVER get that experience, why didn't they invite me? When we left church, Josh asked why I was so upset and I told him. He kept telling me that they probably got caught up in other stuff. And he was right, but by then I was so worked up that I couldn't get over it. Even though that afternoon we did help the nephews look for eggs at my in-laws, I was so distraught that I couldn't let it go.

Which really is dumb, because my in-laws have been so good to me. Through all of my grief, I've been able to build a better relationship with them. My grief that Sunday was for nothing because we did get to help the boys look for eggs. I've finally figured out the whole being an aunt thing this last year. I don't have to hold back because I don't have children of my own. I can find just as much joy through them. I can spoil them and then when they are stinky or whiny, I can hand them back to their parents. Not that they are ever whiny.

I was always afraid to love my nephews. I felt like if I did, I would be betraying my dreams of a child of my own. I felt like if I loved being an aunt, that would mean I didn't want to be a mom. I didn't think I could do both so instead I stepped back and did neither. I've learned over the last year, that I was wrong. I can love them fully and completely and it doesn't hurt. After so many years of struggling, I love being an aunt. I love those boys so much, I would do anything for them.

When we were first unchosen, we decided to step back and take a break from adoption. The more time that passed, the more we realized how much we enjoyed living as a family of two. We started talking about closing our profile. We would talk about it, but then not make a firm decision. After so many years of trying, how could we even consider it? I didn't want to feel like all our efforts were for nothing.

But the more we talked about it, the more we liked it. Slowly, we started to step away from building our family. I started by cleaning up the nursery and turning it into a craft room. A room I once hated and avoided became a sanctuary. Then I decided to start getting rid of the baby items. I sold the pack in play, the swing and the highchair and was relieved to get rid of them. I was afraid I might cry and regret it when the truck pulled away, but instead it was like a great weight was lifted off of me. Then I donated a bag of clothes to a friend collecting items for the women's shelter. Again it was easier then I thought it would be. Friends started announcing pregnancies and I experienced only joy and nothing else.

Last month we called LDSFS and asked them to pull our file. I will admit to one last moment of doubt. Josh and I discussed it that weekend and decided that we were ready and it was decided I would call the next day.  The morning was busy and I didn't get a chance. As I went to lunch, I told myself it would be a good time to call. Then I paused. Was I sure? One of the biggest hold ups was we knew once we closed our profile, we would loose the money we put down when we started the process. Four years ago that was so much money to us. Well, it still is, but at that time it was hard to save it up and then pay it.

But was I really ready to close our profile? I said one last frantic prayer and made a deal with God. I was giving him one hour. If we were meant to adopt, I needed a sign. I needed an email to appear in our adoption account. If there was an email, I would think about it more before closing our profile. Then I surprised myself by ending my prayer with, "if we are meant to adopt, I need an email. But I don't want there to be an email."

An hour later I called and asked them to close our account. That experience was weird. When we were unchosen, we asked LDSFS to put our profile on hold. Our status would remain active, but our profile wouldn't be viewable online. We asked a few times and it never happened. I got sick of asking and decided to just ignore it. Its not like we were getting tons of hits anyways.  I expected the same thing to happen when we closed our profile. Our profile was down within the hour. A process that took years of sweat, hope and tears was over.

We haven't regretted our decision. We put all our efforts into adopting. We jumped in with both feet. We did our best, but sometimes things just aren't meant to be. I wish I could get people to understand that. When we tell people we are no longer trying to grow our family, they act like we are giving up. They tell us to keep faith. To try again in a few years. I just shake my head, they'll never understand. We are happy with the way we are. Our family is small, but we are still a family and we love us the way we are. This has nothing to do with how young we are. This has nothing to do with us needing more faith. This is not about us taking a break and trying again when we are healed. This is about us choosing happiness.

Peoples reactions are why we've not made this a big announcement. We only tell people when they ask. But I'm ready for the world to know. My name is Savannah and my husband is Josh. We have been blissfully married for just over 10 years now. We love the life we have. We tried to have children through pregnancy and adoption, but sometimes it doesn't happen that way. There are other families that are just husband and wife. We are going to embrace life now.

I still question why it all had to happen. Why couldn't I have just been happy before? If we were meant to live as a family of two, why did we feel the need to try and adopt? After trying to adopt for about a year, we started handing out pass along cards with our info. Most people were confused. They didn't understand that the best way to adopt is to spread the word you are looking. I finally started telling people, if this doesn't lead to a baby for us, I hope it at least helps someone who is looking into adoption. If I could help just even one girl as she considered her options, it would be worth it.

I'll never know, but I like to think I helped a young women along her path. I bore my testimony of adoption in several emails. I hope that it was because of my example that she was able to make that hard decision. I hope that in all my efforts to embrace adoption, I was able to help her embrace it too. I think that was the reason I had to meet her. I like to think she needed help and I was there to give it to her. If that is the case, then I can say it was all worth it. I'm glad I could be there for her.