13 engaged couples attended their Preparing for Christian Marriage retreat; and 2 signed up for NFP classes with The Man and me!
4 couples were trained and certified as NFP Teachers (with some directed teaching to come)
Much time was spent with dear friends Joe and Cinda.
A baby Moonhead was born!!!
And, even though it happened earlier in the week, Isaiah brought home sweet Caleb!!!
It's been a beautiful, marriage-enriching, life-affirming week.
Yep. I'm sure you guessed it. AF arrived on Saturday morning. The perfect end to IF Awareness Week.
I had to bury the emotions way down deep this time - there was no time for really letting in what this means during the days: I had to be focused on the 18 other couples who needed me present and willing to share our NFP witness; willing to speak about our IF journey and able to do so without losing it; able to stay focused on the plethora of information being presented to me. And at night, I was frankly too tired to care about anything - a small blessing, I'm sure.
Oh yea, The Man and I taught NFP Class #3 tonight too - you know the one that talks about breastfeeding, the miracle of children, and the pain of infertility. Yep.
And now, as I sit here, tired and contemplating going to bed, I can feel the emotions boiling and rising to the surface. I can feel the pit in my stomach becoming a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. It's time for the next step. The next phone call. The next appointment to be made. No, the actual appointment won't be for a few months, but it's time to make the call.
I know there are graces in this cross. I know my prayer for grace has been answered. But right now, tonight when it's all boiling over I hate it all. I'm selfish and weak and I want my turn. I don't want to call the doctor; I don't want to ask if my recurrent UTIs have anything to do with the IF; I don't want to start checking my thyroid and my vitamin D; I don't want to track my ovulation with ultrasounds. I want to make love with The Man and get pregnant and have a baby. Who knew that was such a large request?
I want to have all of this weekend without an "except" at the end.
Our Priest is a Passionist Priest and frequently calls us to the foot of the cross; reminding us that this is where we encounter the forgiveness of Jesus and the sacrifice made to forgive our sins. But during the vigil mass he reminded us that we cannot spend our entire lives at the foot of the cross, that we must move forward and find our joy in the resurrection. I admit at this point, I was still working on recovering from the misery I was feeling at the constant repetition of the word "fertile" in the first reading - which was read by my mom, so that only made it worse - and trying to stay focused because I knew it was almost time for the children in my RCIA class to be baptized and confirmed. And then, Father started talking about the resurrection - and Thomas.
Now, he wasn't focused on the usual story of Thomas and his doubting and how we have to have faith without seeing. No, this time he wasn't focusing on Thomas, he was focusing on Jesus. And he held out his hands for a moment before he spoke, and when he spoke it took everything in me to hold the tears back because his words were what so often is echoed throughout this blogosphere when an IFer crosses over. He said that though Jesus was resurrected, he still carried the wounds of his crucifixion; of his pain; of his passion. And the only way that Thomas could believe that He was the same Jesus was to see the wounds.
So, when one of our sisters is resurrected from the cross of IF, she still carries the wounds. And, sometimes we need to be reminded of her wounds to believe that she is still the same person. And for me, it is a reminder that if this cross is lifted from me in this life I will continue to carry the wounds, but I will still be the same person. It wasn't the wounds that defined the resurrected Jesus, but it was the wounds that helped Thomas to remain close to him and to then preach the gospel. It is our common cross that brought us together and no matter where our paths take us, it will be what always ties us - even when our lives begin to look very different.
This also ties in so much to my experience as a child of divorce. It is the wounds that I carry that remind me of how and why I want my marriage to be different. Yes, sometimes these wounds get ripped back open like the other night when The Man asked a seemingly innocent question that led to 2 hours of tears and discussion, but ultimately it is the wounds that remind me why I stick through those conversations and immediately reflect upon my reactions when they are unnecessarily extreme. For so often, I tried to deny I had these wounds, I tried to believe all of the adults in my life who told me I was better off - heck, I even have jokes about my parents divorce that I tell. But I've realized that while in many ways the weight of my parents' divorce is lifted, the wounds will always be with me.
Acknowledging the similarity of my experiences with divorce and infertility has been creeping in more and more recently. Mostly as I've feared some of my reactions to the infertility - specifically an overwhelming sense of apathy. Sometimes, I feel so "whatever" - much like I do most of the time when thinking about my parents' divorce. And that worries me because I know that my responses to my parents' divorce were not the healthiest - I buried a lot and put on a strong, happy face for many many years. In some ways I still do (again, the jokes). I've been worried that this is what I'm doing with infertility, burying how I really feel, cracking jokes, and talking about it with others like it's no big deal.
I've been working to find this fine line and stay on the correct side of it - to acknowledge my pain and allow myself to feel the feelings I feel without putting myself in situations in which I know I will be uncomfortable and regret later. I've realized my need to just not talk about it most of the time when around other people, but I need to find a way to let it out when I'm alone or with those I trust in a more authentic way than speaking as if it's no big deal or worse trying to laugh about it. Laughter is my cover, and I acknowledge that it can be a good thing. But, I feel myself trying to bury my wounds; trying to hide in a comfortable apathy; trying to just "move on"; trying to pretend like seeing babies and pregnant women (that are every.where) don't hurt. I've tried hiding wounds before and I know that it hid the "real" me and that even The Man has commented how he just had no idea how badly divorce hurts children - and lasts -until the past few years. I need to be more careful as I travel this road of infertility - to be more aware of my feelings and to allow myself to truly feel them and handle them authentically rather than bury them.
I need to emulate Jesus and stretch out my hands and see the wounds that are forming or I fear I will become like Thomas and doubt. My doubt will take the form of bitterness and regret. I am not a bitter person, I like my glass half full and I need to find a way to keep it that way.
Oh, how a year changes things.
There will be no post on my FB page. There will be no Tweeting about IF. There will only be this, in this space.
Much like I chose not to share our story at work, I also chose not to share our story on FB - for lots of reasons. Many are the same as the work reasons, but there are a few others too.
But here's what I would say, what a piece of me is dying to say, if I were to post:
It would start with this picture:
In honor of Infertility Awareness Week: "This is for all of us who long to see two lines on a stick; who wish for labor pains; who look forward to being woken up every few hours of each night; who imagine first steps and first words; who dream of first birthdays; who hide tears, minimize pain, and straddle the fence of the life we have and the life we want; who suffer in silence; who bite our tongues at bad advice; and who just want to hear "I love you Mom". Those of you with children: Hug them tightly, tell them how blessed you are to have them in your life, say "I love you" just because you do, and praise the Author of Life for the opportunity to do so."
I wish I had the courage to not care about the reactions; to stand up and educate others about infertility; to explain our reasons for our treatment plan; to let everyone see the truth.
I don't. I couldn't even advocate for myself with a local doctor - let alone 300 some FB "friends".
But there is something I want to say to my IRL friends (and MIL - hi Mom!) who read here:
Thank-you. Thank-you for reading these words and hearing the truth - the good and the bad - and still loving me. Thank-you for not pushing me to share when I don't want to and for listening when I do. Thank-you for not ever making me feel embarrassed for tears or for making jokes to hide them. Please know that every. single. time. I thank those in the bloggy world for their support I am including you because you are part of this place as well.
So, while I won't be saying anything on Facebook - to everyone who is reading this thank-you for helping me to carry this cross. Thank-you for loving me, praying for me, and sticking with me. I don't know or how when this road will end, but I do know that you've made it easier and less scary.
- All of your kind comments on my last post in helping me to catch up - I feel much better now :).
- A ton of pictures to edit and upload - now I just need the time to do it - ha!
- A great week of travel last week, including dinners with Nicole (who is a dear IRL friend), Isaiah, and Rae (who are both now IRL friends thanks to this bloggy world :))!
- Oh, and the coolest - yet also kinda surreal - thing happened. One of the men at the conference last week says "I have a weird question - do you have a blog?" I said "yes, why?" He said my wife reads it! I got all excited because I thought it might be someone I knew, but alas she is a lurker. But it was way cool, and very very weird at the same time, to be recognized by my blog. So, to A's wife - Hi! :)
I got home last night.
I have over 100 unread blog posts in my reader.
I'm pretty sure I'll never fully catch up.
So, can I ask (totally selfishly) for a comment with what's been going on with you the last week? I've decided I'm just going to start reading fresh tomorrow and try to back track as I go.
I've caught some titles as I scrolled through quickly and it seems like there are both good things and not so good things going on - so when you leave your comment, I promise I will say a prayer of praise or petition for whatever is going on in your life right when I read it!
Much thanks in advance for humoring me :).
No picture and no linky today :(. I'm traveling and didn't get this scheduled as I'd planned. Oh well, linkys and pictures aren't the point, are they?
This week, I am thankful for:
-a wonderful Holy Week and Triduum
-a great birthday (so far - more to come, yay me! Maybe I'll travel the week of my birthday more often!)
-meeting other people who do what I do!
-dinner with Isaiah tonight!
-a smartphone so I can do this post
What are you thankful for? (Please just leave a comment with your link :).)
This Lent, I had the privilege of praying for Amanda from All in His Perfect Timing. It has been so hard to keep it a secret, especially in the days, heck hours!, leading up to her sweet Luke's adoption! It was an honor to pray for Amanda's intentions and for her sweet family. If you don't know Amanda, please go visit and congratulate her on becoming a Mommy just in time for Easter!
I was also honored to learn that JellyBelly was praying for me. Thank-you so much for all of the prayers, I can assure they were felt and appreciated - so much!
Yesterday, my mom loaded up her car and we loaded up ours with all of the things needed to make an Easter dinner and early birthday celebration for me at my Nan's house (she has had some health problems and wasn't up for traveling to us). It was a great day - even though I totally screwed myself over by eating not only 1/2 a sandwich, but also a piece of Easter Bread made by my Mom and a piece of Pascha bread (one of my favorites!) during lunchtime. By dinner, with my headache sort of under control thanks to some meds and my stomach in a full-temper tantrum I was very clearly reminded that Me+gluten = bad news! Lots of water, 24 hours, and all gluten-free food later and I'm recording this to remind myself for the next time I decide to cheat.
Wait, this is supposed to be about pedicures!
I spent the night at my Nan's to help her out around the house and take her on some errands this morning. Well, one of her errands was to get a pedicure and she treated me to one too. I sure hope at 83 I'm still getting pedicures and that I have a granddaughter or 2 to take me to get them! It was a good morning spent together. And I have beautiful toes as a souvenir :).
Late last week I gave an interview to our Catholic Newspaper about Infertility Awareness week. The Editor of the paper happens to be on the other side of a long IF journey herself (her son is 6 months old), and we have talked before. I was not worried about doing the interview as I knew it would be behind a closed door with an understanding person. She even let me see the article before it was printed which is not usually done. It is exactly what I wanted. It is not personal to me at all, but it is authentically Catholic, gentle, and helpful and if only one person feels less alone as a result of reading it, it will be worth it.
Then, today is editing day for the newsletter I publish each month. One of the secretaries is our proof-reader and I've already proofread the article I wrote about IF Awareness Week and asked my boss to read it very closely (she knows our story) because this secretary and I are like oil and water - and she is sometimes very harsh with her proofreading reports. I knew I needed to be able to take the criticisms and suggestions about commas and spacing just as I would for any other article, and while again this is a general, not personal article it is so close to my heart that I was worried as to how I would respond. As this secretary finished reading this article, she came over and I admit, I cringed when she said "I was reading this article about infertility..." but then she proceeded to tell me about this couple that she prayers for every night that has been trying for a year and a half and who just last night she found out that the unmarried sister is pregnant. She of course continued with how bad she feels for the IF couple and how hard it is going to be to tell them and yada yada yada. All things that any normal person would have been able to engage in a conversation about and express the same concerns and opinions.
Instead, all I could do was say "yes, that is a difficult situation," and fight to hold the tears back. When the topic of children comes up and I have nothing to offer, I often wonder if people suspect our IF, or if they just assume I'm a career-driven woman using birth control. But now I wonder if, in this situation and others, I just come across as heartless?
Don't get me wrong, there is a piece of me that is grateful that my office is mostly unaware of our IF (my boss and one other person being the exception), but there are times it would be kind of nice if they not only knew about our IF, but also knew exactly what to say and do (or not say or not do). Ha! The hilarity of that statement - I barely know what to say to me, let alone what someone else should say to me.
The lines between my job and my life are blurred, and while there are of course some things that stay private, this blurring is usually a good thing. But at these times when life and work intersect in ways I don't anticipate are when the tears must be hidden, quickly and on the spot. When I can prepare myself, when I know what is coming, I can put the walls up, but when I'm caught off guard the only thing I can offer is silence and hollow words, even when there is a piece of me screaming out to be seen and understood.