Thursday, October 31, 2013

the not so fertile road, part 2

(Read Part 1)

After my miscarriage, Hannah brought in Missy, and we proceeded to email-as-therapy through the infertility indignities that Hannah and her husband were now enduring. We wrote wildly inappropriate haiku about endometriosis, surgeries, and how I thought Missy was "as sweet as a rash." We assured one another of being safe to say the wrong thing, because each of us had suffered our own tragedies, and we had a vague idea of what "the wrong thing" was. Believe me when I say that these emails were and are balm to my soul. In the last two years, we have covered more topics than I can count, in more emails than Gmail likes to deal with, and I have yet to even meet Missy face to face. I trust them with intimate details of my life, because they have privileged me with the same.

Because the first pregnancy had ended sadly, Hannah was a cheerleader for us when we started to try again. When the pregnancy test was positive, I called her. We talked about loving the infertile from a fertile perspective (just as I discovered pregnancy, she and her husband were beginning to explore their options). We emailed about idolatry - hers was a pregnancy the way she wanted, mine was to control the outcome of this pregnancy the way I wanted - and through it all, my heart was intent on protecting her heart. I probably slathered things on more thickly than usual in an effort to soften the blow of being pregnant and talking to a friend discovering increasingly bad things about her prospects for the same. If I complained about morning sickness, it was with lots of wry sarcasm and faux "woe is me" sentimentality so that she could laugh and sympathize rather than bitterly think, "I wish I could complain about morning sickness."

Another thing I found myself praying against was judging her and her husband for so doggedly pursuing a baby that was biologically "them." The obstacles they faced were excruciating and daunting, and she shared them freely with Missy and I... and I privately wondered if I would do the same. My email to her read:
There is a part of me that wonders if I'd go straight to adoption if instant baby wasn't in my future, and part of me that warns the other part not to go there. I don't know how I would respond. Once you get the emotions involved, there's a great deal that's out the window when it comes to purely rational decision-making. It's how God made us... and if we FEEL broken, even if how we feel isn't what's real, it STILL FEELS REAL. I can imagine it's a hard thing all around, and I don't envy you the process, dear friend.
Because I was walking that infertile road vicariously, I permitted myself to think things without saying them, to pray for their efforts, and to try to lighten her load however she needed. And when it was clear they were moving forward with the fertility options they had, I was behind them 100%. We continued to email and learn more about one another. Hannah, like others I know who have suffered, endeavored to write a primer on walking with others through similar trials. I think she did so beautifully, and it helps that she has degrees in things like counseling and therapy and crap. I know the important stuff - I don't care about her pedigree or diplomas or whatever.

And after over a year of throwing themselves into fertility treatments that included at least one surgery, big drugs, and procedures that aren't all warm and fuzzy when you think of "let's make a baby!", Hannah and her husband got the very unfortunate news that the door was rapidly closing on their options. Things in Hannah's body had so deteriorated in one year that even IVF (in vitro fertilization) success was significantly reduced, if cost and ethical considerations hadn't already prohibited it. Her doctor advised them to keep trying, but that conception was moving from the realm of "medical" to the realm of "miracle."

The emails stopped for a month. We all grieved. Celebrated Thanksgiving. In very early December, we traded missives that each dealt with our impressive tempers and how we controlled them. Or not.
I didn't go through all of it. Instead I walked through most of it and then I turned around. I started staring each of them down. They started shutting up. And of my German Grandfather's ire and temper came out. Glaring. Yes. I slammed the door on my way out. It's funny. I think I'm more scary when I don't say anything.
Today was better in that I didn't almost adopt a cat out of guilt or receive any more news about my family. I did, however, completely lose my shit while doing Christmas shopping. The highlight though is that Andy now has a collection of one-liners that I managed to produce in the middle of my tirade... one-liners which, in retrospect, send us both into fits of laughter. Highlights include, "as if I enjoy having sensory issues only found in autistic children"; "why does your mother insist on buying me itchy sweaters from that God-forsaken store?"; and, my personal favorite: "those fuckers at J. Crew". Because my husband is a saint, he immediately took me to the food court, bought me a pretzel and a soda, and then forgave me and validated everything I said. Then he dubbed it the Airing of Grievances and we toasted to the early beginning of Festivus.
(I can't post my temper excerpt. It might be about you and then you'd be embarrassed and I would have to apologize for something that I wasn't sorry about.)
 The Not So Fertile Road, Part 3: Now What?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

the not so fertile road, part 1

I'm borrowing the title of this post from a friend, Jody, who struggled with infertility and spoke up about it, in a way that ministered to me and blessed me and blesses me still. Infertility is still a largely private suffering. You don't really want to tell people about your sex life, you don't really want to talk about a monthly disappointment that arrives in the form of a period, and you don't really want to hear other people's input on why you're not conceiving, what you should be doing differently, and how that one friend they know just relaxed, adopted, and blammo! Pregnant.

The topic of reproduction is replete with pitfalls, land mines, and wholly unsuspecting and well-meaning people wade right in with questions or comments that seem totally harmless, just conversation starters:
  • When are you guys going to have a baby?
  • My, there's a big age gap between your kids!
  • Are you pregnant? or How old is your baby?
Of course, these can be answered with innocuous, easy replies:
  • We're 13 weeks along, so glad you asked!
  • We were done until God opened our hearts to adoption! or Just like we planned it!
  • Yes! or I just delivered last week!
But there are other answers, too. And the other answers have made me MUCH more careful in how I talk about pregnancy and children with strangers or acquaintances:
  • We've been trying for over a year. Fertility treatments haven't worked, and the doctor says I'm infertile.
  • My first husband died while I was pregnant, and it took time to remarry and be ready for another baby.
  • No, I very recently miscarried at 20 weeks and my body hasn't recovered. or Five years old.
I know at least one woman who has experienced each of these. Shoot, I AM the woman in one of them. And in light of two friendships that have stretched, grown, and unfurled in beautiful ways in the last two years, I'm writing a little series on infertility. As in, loving the infertile from a fertile perspective. My perspective.


In late 2010, my friend Hannah shared with me that she and her husband were trying to conceive. She was really excited to enter a new phase of their life and marriage. They had been trying for a while, and she was beginning to get a bit anxious, as well. She contacted me and another friend, Missy, to request counsel, prayer, friendship, support. We eventually created a sort of "sisterhood of suffering," because each of us had specific and unique story that included it, and each were still walking in faith in Christ. We are also all sarcastic, free with profanity, and fiercely defensive of Jesus and each other.

After Hannah had shared with me some of their trouble conceiving, but before we had created the sisterhood, I found out that Rob and I were expecting. Accidentally - as in, earlier than I had planned. Now I had to tell my friend, the one who actively grieved each monthly period because it was evidence of "failure," of non-life, of prayers answered by a quiet, painful, "No." I was scared of hurting her, even though I know that joy is not a zero sum game (more for me = less for you). I wanted to say all the right things and none of the wrong things, because though she had asked for my support, I did not know the struggle with infertility firsthand.

So I emailed her. My reasoning was that it was better than calling, because it gave her freedom to read and process and reply in her own time. I told her every thought I'd been having about this being a new avenue of grief for me, how I thought we'd need to try for longer, how much I wanted this for her too, and how concerned I was that many people I knew would see this as reason to be happy for me, sad for them. Just like I felt when friends/family announced pregnancies after I was widowed. I was so happy for them! I was so sad for me.

And she was gracious. She rejoiced for the happy news and sympathized with my fears and anxiety about being due during the same season as big Blake died. I was at ease.

One month later, we suffered a miscarriage.

And she was gracious. She heard my thoughts on the mercies of the miscarriage and my sorrow that I hadn't fully rejoiced in this too-short life. It brought us closer, for which I am grateful. Because of the transparency she'd already had with me, I was able to say things to her that were too blunt, too hard, or simply too inappropriate for almost anyone else. You're surprised: I have limits. Be grateful for what I DON'T put on this blog!

The Not So Fertile Road, Part 2: Pregnant again.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

looky what I found!

 This handsome lad started third grade. I still can't believe it.

 The girlies.

 Sharing Kix, Gunner and Audrey.

 Gunner and V, learning how to share. 

 Found these, from Vesper's first birthday. She's changed a ton in the few months since.

 Her hair is longer, and her nose less orange.

She's still a fun little punkin.

Monday, October 7, 2013

so long, summer. we barely knew ye (updated)

So, this time my quiet hasn't been due to melancholy! Hurray! I've just had many, many, MANY pressing things to do other than compose myself and my thoughts and maybe a photo or two and bang it out here. And honestly, when I do get a chance to say something, I usually put it on Facebook, because short and sweet makes me choose my words carefully, keep my words relevant (NO ONE wants to know what you ate today. Really.), and can be tucked into the tiny amount of time it takes for Vesper to fill my purse with Honeycomb cereal.

Blake has started ending lists with "and all such." I can't think of any examples right now, but it's funny, I don't know where he got it (neither Rob nor I say it), and I hope you get to hear it sometime and all such. He and Vesper are still each others' favorite person, although he sometimes gets a bit carried away and, as a result, has dropped her more than once, and not always right side up. We have some new guidelines about when and how he may carry her.

Vesper is sporting five teeth and clearly working hard on about two hundred more. There's a lot of drool, finger-chewing, and erratic mood swings. She's finally learned how to sign 'please' and can identify the sound of the cookie jar being opened. After a hilariously slow chase of Blake around the kitchen and dining room (he had a popsicle he'd let her sample and she wanted more), Rob unscrewed the lid and we all watched her abruptly veer off toward that other dude in the house, signing 'please,' and opening her mouth like a baby bird. She's in the awkward phase of starting to understand instructions - "Where's your lovey?" or "Find your juice, please!" - but not being quite up to speed on what's deemed obedience and disobedience. As a result, she's often pretty disobedient, but gleefully ignorant about it. She loves to put things in things (see above: Honeycomb), which makes her surprisingly helpful about cleaning up. She loves to take things out of things, which means she gets to then be helpful somewhat regularly. Club Mini crackers are her absolute favorite, and she often has jammed so many in her mouth that the ends are all poking out. Just a dainty little lady over here!

Rob and I still like each other. A lot. Financial pressure will likely ease a bit in the coming months, for which we are VERY grateful, and meant I bought a pair of jeans. I'm now up to two pair, because I've lost 15 pounds and only had one of the smaller size left in my closet. Whee! We're hoping for another baby, but so far God seems to be telling us to get our fiscal act together first. UGH. FINE! We'll be responsible adults!

For now.

 I've been watching Gunner occasionally, and seeing him and V figure each other out, share, not share, defend, and make up has been sweet. My take away? V is a bit of a drama queen, G is a bit of a bruiser, but he's sweet-natured about hugging it out and giving kisses, which V is suspicious and emotional about.

Dear God. I have a girl.

 Um... July? Picking Blake up from his week at church camp.

 Um... August? We all (minus poor, hard-working Rob and Matt) met up in Coeur d'Alene for a weekend with 15 people under one roof. There wasn't a LOT of sleeping, but as Reese noted, we all still love each other. That's one in the win column!

Though we had hoped to take advantage of an outdoor water park and be outside, it rained the ENTIRE time we were there. LAME. So we went to a bounce house, an indoor water park, drank wine, played hand and foot, and generally destroyed Lane & Bing's lovely home.

 Taking a break from all that jumping.

 Sawyer was pretty intense about beating the crap out of that yellow column thingy.

 Oh yeah. This one climbs stairs. She cannot get back down, other than face first (a scrape with the one concrete step out our front door proved that one), and I have a sweet video that I shot sideways of this very first stair climb at the end of the post.

Super bubbles with a neighbor. See this beautiful, bluebird day? These nutsos wanted to play the XBox, Wii, or iPad. I'm thisclose to selling all three devices, but instead, Rob disconnected the ones attached to the TV "for the summer," and I whipped together a batch of bubbles. Next year, I might have to invest in a hard-sided kiddie pool, bigger batches, and hula hoops. For the kids, you know.

UPDATE: I let Blake watch the video above before he left for school today. His takeaway: "I'd fight that thing like a man." I'm not really sure what he thinks that means, as I haven't seen men wrestle large inflatable tubes, but I told him he'd could absolutely do that when we visit again.