Shout Out to a New Friend

I just wanted to quickly welcome StarFishKittyDreams to this wonderful blogging community! She just stared her own blog Waiting for Baby and is stuck that difficult waiting place. Her journey started with a positive pregnancy test in early 2008 that ended in a miscarriage, another positive pregnancy test in 2009 that ended in a miscarriage, and now a positive pregnancy test but an ultrasound that is showing growing yet empty gestational sac.

From the moment I first met StarFishKittyDreams I appreciated her welcoming spirit and her positive outlook on the future. She is a beautiful soul and I am so happy to introduce her to my other blogging friends. Please drop by her little corner of this interweb and let her know that she is not alone on this journey.


A new Support Group?

My mom sent me an email a couple weeks ago about a woman who approached her and wanted to start an infertility support group.

My mom runs a parent education program for new moms to attend with their little ones. It is an amazing program that she started twenty five years ago. I could brag about my mom all day long, she really is an incredible woman who has helped so many thousands of new moms grow into beautiful loving supportive parents. Her program is like the one stop shop for all new parents in our community, and absolutely everyone knows my mom. Because she talks about me and my sisters in all of her classes, and has our pictures up all over her office, everyone also knows me.

So anyways, I'd thought a lot about whether or not it would make sense for her program to host an infertility support group. Her program is so loving and supportive, and although it is a center designed for moms and babies, it somehow seemed logical that it would be the perfect place to host a support group. The nearest RESOLVE group is hours away from our little community, and although I don't know anyone else here who shares our struggle, I'll bet that we are not the only infertile couple in town! 

The challenge I struggled with was whether or not I would be able to actually engage with a group that was offered at my mom's program. There would be no anonymity. If I attended, everyone would know who I am. Regardless of agreements of confidentiality, anything I shared would inevitably seep its way into the small town memory where everyone knows everything about you. As much as I'd love to have a group of infertile friends who I could meet and share support with, I concluded that it was a little too close to home for me. And really, even if I could have reconciled the other issues, I just didn't have the energy or capacity to start and facilitate a group.

But then when I got the email from my mom about a lady who was going to start up a local group, I got really excited. I wanted it to start meeting right away. I wanted to meet some local friends who understood, who I could get together for lunch with, or go for a walk with. It seemed so perfect.

So yesterday I opened my email to get another email from my mom with a flyer attached for the support group. I downloaded the pdf. It was a double sided trifold, a little overwhelming to start with. It announced a new Infertility and Adoption support group that would meet once per month. It had a few quotes from women mentioning isolation. And then there was a statement saying that "babies are welcome, as always".

I caught my breath when I read it. I mean, this place where the group will be held is designed for moms and babies, all of their classes and programs welcome babies. It is like the most supportive welcoming place for babies. So I don't know why I was so surprised to see that... but I was. 

I kept reading. There was a description of the group, and it talked about infertility and adoption. Then it talked about parenting issues that adoptive parents face. Then it had a very brief bio on the facilitator that included a statement about how she is adopting a baby thru the local adoption center.

I know that I am super emotionally sensitive, but my god, why am I so bothered by that brochure. I read the brochure and thought immediately and instinctively, this is not a group for me. This is not a group for infertile people. To clarify, this group sounds awesome for infertile people who are at a very specific place on their journey, and it is a place that I am just not at.

The thing is, my mom sent me the flyer to get my feedback. So I replied with a few of these initial thoughts. It sounds like it will be a great support group - for parenting after infertility. (and I totally think that is an important and necessary topic!!) I guess I just feel like it is too presumptuous to assume that we will all need that kind of support. 

This has all settled into my heart and stomach in a funny way. an unsettled way. I think I wanted it to be something else. I wanted it to be something for me. So here I am with a funny feeling. Should I go to the first meeting, and see how it plays out? It might be awesome, and give me hope for the future. Or it might be terrible and leave me feeling assaulted. (Where did that word -assaulted- just come from? I just typed it out, and there it is.)

I'll talk to my mom, she knows the facilitator lady and will probably have a better assessment of her intent, and maybe we just need to change the flyer. Maybe I am just a basket case.


My Scarlet Pain

My Scarlet Pain
I’ve been thinking about how to say these things all week. I’m going to try my best to get it all out on paper, but I know it is not going to make sense the way I need it to. It will sound contradictory and whiney, but there is a feeling that I need to communicate, so I’m going to give it my best shot.
I realized last weekend when my girlfriends and I had that discussion about hope that the people around me don’t have any idea how much pain I am in. They know that I am having a hard time in this struggle, and they are so kind and loving, but they just can’t comprehend it. My boss is wonderful and so accommodating and says nice things like “even at your worst, you are better than most of the people we work with at their best”. I couldn’t ask of anything more of the people in my life, but they just don’t know.
They are all looking to me for guidance as to how to be supportive and helpful. I don’t have anything to offer them. 
They are all watching my mood to gauge how I am doing. And when my mood is low, they can see that I am in pain. I need for them to know that I am in pain. I need them to know that I am struggling. Somehow their acknowledgement of my pain makes it real, makes it legitimate, makes it valid. Somehow it is easier to carry this feeling when it is acknowledged by others, and the only way they know to acknowledge it is to see me sad.
I feel like this infertility (aka pain, loss, fear, etc) is now a part of who I am, and yet I am struggling to incorporate it into the self that I was and to emerge in some sort of balanced way. 
I am so done with feeling so low. I am so ready to let some sunlight in, to let some bright warm light shine on my soul. and Yet I am struggling with how to acknowledge the pain, while letting happiness in. 
When I smile and act happy, people around me think that everything is okay.  It’s as if there is no pain, there is no sadness, I am not scared or worried, there is no unfullfilled purpose. If I am happy, then those other emotions must not exist. This is such an oversimplified view, but it is the best I can do to explain it. 
I know that all of these emotions can co-exist together. That I can experience happiness and sadness, pleasure and pain all in the same moment. Emotions are not mutually exclusive, they are not black and white.  I know that. 
But somehow, I feel like I am betraying my pain by wishing to make room for other feelings, by letting other people see that there is room for other feelings to fit. How could my pain possibly be as big as I say it is if there is space to experience pleasure and joy?
I wish that there was some way that I could visually show the world just how big and real this struggle is. Some way that even as I laugh or dance, that everyone will see that I am burdened by this additional powerful emotion. Even if they can’t comprehend my experience of this struggle, I want them to know that it is always with me.



I think that I am going to share my blog with my mom.

I can't stop thinking about the sweet sweet comments that Julie's mom and Alison's mom have left them, and want my mom to know about these awesome supportive blog friends I've discovered.


Just Because - Favorite Children's Books

I remember our home always being rich with children's activities. We had books galore, and always had someone to read to us.

Kakunaa wrote a great post about her favorite Children's Books, and it got me thinking about all of my favorite books.... the books that I want to include when I build on my vision for my Someday Family. When I picture my future with children's things scattered around the house, I picture these things laying around.

I think that The Runaway Bunny might be my all time favorite book. It is so sweet and shows the unconditional love of a mother for her little bunny. Sometimes I feel like our journey to parenthood shadows this story.

“If you become a fish in a trout stream,” said his mother, "I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you.”

“If you become a rock on the mountain high above me," said his mother, "I will become a mountain climber, and I will climb to where you are.”

“If you become a bird and fly away from me", said his mother, "I will be a tree that you come home to.”

Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel is another one that I love. I think that I have probably read it a thousand times, as it was one that I used to carry with me in my babysitting bag of tricks and all the kids I watched loved it as well. Again it is a story about loyalty and unconditional love, mixed in with determination to persevere thru the most hopeless and challenging conditions.

Reading it now, I relate to the outpouring of love and support that helped fuel Mike and Mary Anne (his steam shovel) to achieve what seemed impossible.

I recently discovered this series of books by Sibylle von Olfers. I love the illustrations and the way that each story connects nature with imagination. I actually bought a whole bunch of these books off ebay - some of them are for gifts, but there is a complete set sitting on my bookshelf for My Someday family.

Someday, I will read these stories to my children and talk about the seasons, and imagine that snowflakes are really little snow children.

Please tell me that you all remember this record... I LOVED this record as a kid. I remember listening to this record in the living room while my mom put my little sister down for her nap. I was 3, maybe 4 years old. The record was a mix of songs and little stories, all with the message that you are perfect just the way you are.

There was a 25th anniversary edition book published recently that I randomly found at the book store. It is crazy how all of my memories of these songs and stories came rushing back to me. I bought a bunch of copies of the book, and have been giving them away as birthday presents.

It feels so good to think about the future so positively. I really do have a section of my bookshelf reserved to hold the growing library of books that I will someday read to my little ones. Until then, I am grateful for this space and for being able to share these books with you.


My experience with Acupuncture

Every so often someone asks about acupuncture so I thought I'd share my experience with you. Basically, I tried it, but didn't like it, and it turns out that it wasn't going to help us anyways.

I want to clarify that this was my experience. Others love and swear by acupuncture, so please don't take my word as gospel.

ML and I had been ttc for about 16 months when my massage therapist suggested that I try accupuncture. I made an appt right away.

At my first appt, the accupuncturist explained that in order for accupuncture to work I would need to come 3 times per week for at least 3 months. At $135 per visit (she was willing to give us a discounted rate of $85) I was caught off-guard. I hadn't realized that it was going to require that kind of commitment. But I was really starting to worry that there was something wrong and that we needed to do something to help us conceive. I thought that I could try it 2x per week for a month.

The session lasted about 45 minutes. She put some needles in my hands, arms, feet, legs, stomach, ear and head. Then she left the room and left me alone for the next 40 minutes. I don't like being places alone and layed in the treatment room caught up in my worry and waiting for the time to pass. She came back in the room and seemed surprised when I said that I was bored. She said that people usually go to sleep and get very relaxed. The truth was that I was very anxious and definitely not relaxed.

I went for my second session a few days later, again hating being left alone in the room for an hour and caught up in my head with negative thoughts about our ttc efforts. Again she was surprised that I was not relaxed afterwards, and almost lectured me about needing to relax. If the purpose of acup. is to relax, there are so many other things I would prefer to do in order to relax. She almost implied that if I wasn't open to letting the acup work, then it would not.

I told my husband that I was doing acupuncture, and he balked saying that there were no legitimate studies showing that it was effective. We talked about the power of the placebo effect, and agreed that if I felt that ap was helpful, then we would treat it like a massage and consider it something pleasurable and worth spending $ on.

I went for my third session, and after a similar experience that led me to tears in the car when I left, I decided that acup was not the right thing for me. I hated being left alone in the treatment room, and hated the implication that I had too much energy and wasn't letting the ap relax me.
Shortly after my acupuncture attempts, we got our azoos diagnosis. As it turns out all the acupuncture in the world wouldn't have helped me get pregnant. I actually hold some resentment of the practitioner. As a medical professional, I feel like she let me down by implying that our struggles were something that she could fix if I would just commit to working with her.

I want to write her a letter, just to let her know how I feel about the whole thing, but it hasn't been a priority for me.
I am so grateful to be able to read about the experience of others, and just wanted to share my experience with acupuncture in case anyone else finds it helpful. 


Hope is a big word

I spent the afternoon today with a couple girlfriends.

I'd wanted to go to the spa, where I could get some much needed pampering, and lie in the sunshine next to the pool. They are two really great girls, always happy to go with the flow, very supportive, and always a good time. Getting them motivated to get out of the house and focus on an outcome can be a challenge though. We'd talked last night about spending the day at the spa, and again this morning confirmed our plans.  I got dressed up and packed my bag this morning. I really could use a good massage and envisioned the day wearing a plush robe with cozy slippers curled on a lounge next to a firepit.

By the time we got out of the house it was much later in the afternoon than I'd expected, and not really worth the money anymore to head to the spa. The treatments are expensive, but worth it if you can make a day of it and enjoy the facilities. So instead, we drove around for a while, searching for some sunshine, and ended up crashing a garden party at a fancy hotel.

We had a conversation about hope, that started when one friend recited an Emily Dickinson poem:

"Hope" is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I've heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me. 

I'm not going to be able to re-create the conversation, but it was striking. Like a snap-shot that perfectly captured why it I feel so alone sometimes.

They started talking about how great it is that hope is ever-present, that bird in our soul that never stops singing. I disagreed, saying that hope is delicate and fragile and requires constant attention. The hope that I know takes so much energy to cultivate.

We talked about despair, the opposite of hope. They felt that it was despair that required the emotional energy.

Starting this blog was a manifestation of hope that had been so elusive for me. Being able to envision my "Someday", one that included a family, took me a long time. For nearly a year after our diagnosis I felt no hope. There was no bird. The song had stopped.

Finding hope for our future again has taken a lot of work on my part. Kind of like a garden that I have to plan and tend to, that takes time to grow, and needs the right nutrients and water and sunshine. I've worked so hard to regain a sense of hope and nurture it. Whereas despair takes energy, I have to give huge amounts of energy to maintain hope.

I don't know if they understood what I tried to explain. It was actually a depressing conversation. I hadn't realized how depressing I might sound to the people around me. But this is how I feel.

Wikipedia defines hope as a belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one's life. Hope is the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.

I want so much to believe that our circumstances will turn out for the best, and intend to keep nurturing that idea.

How do you maintain and nurture hope on this journey?


Little Bits of Gratitude

A short little post to share my gratitude this week. I am grateful for....

My Lover - who is the most amazing kind loving man. enough said.

My Boss - for supporting my request to work a flexible (less than 40 hr week) schedule for a few weeks. and for encouraging me to plan some additional time-off when a few big projects finnish up.

My regular doctor - for getting me in to see her right away and for being so gentle and understanding and for taking the time to listen to me and help me take care of myself.

My Grandma - for being such a fighter. for being able to eat soup with her weak hand without spilling and do up a zipper all on her own. She wants to get home so badly, and I love her determination.

My Bestie's Little One - for being so sweet and adorable. for giving me lots of cuddles and for sharing the sweetest little baby giggles with me.

My Bestie - for coming over and sitting on the couch with me all day when I needed her. and for being such a loving beautiful patient mother.


Infertility E-Class

This past March I took an infertility e-class with Lily from The Infertile Mind. It was incredible. I wrote a post about it earlier, and will forever be grateful to Lily for the gift that she gave me via that class. It was that class that opened the world of this online community for me, and helped me find the most essential tool of writing to help me on this journey.

I am so excited to announce that Lily is going to offer another infertility e-class starting in October! I can't recommend this class highly enough and hope that you will all sign up and participate.


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