8.17.2014

Et et.

Et et.

Both/and.

It is one of the things about being Catholic that most often pierces and heals me all at the same time. So much of the faith is about seemingly incompatible realities - God is both One and Triune; Christ is both human and divine; and more. So often when I am stuck, and cannot figure something out, it comes back to this truth of both/and. Et et.

So too it has been this week.

I will insert a disclaimer here. This is written with brutal honesty from the perspective of a woman who is on the eve of the 4th anniversary of TTC. Never in a million years did I ever imagine this would be my life. Just this evening, The Man said to me "I wish I could make you happier." No amount of words on a page will ever explain the sadness that has overwhelmed me in recent weeks. No amount of words will ever describe the emotions I am feeling.


As part of this disclaimer, I will say that all of what follows is emotion. Fr. D. has been working with me to get me to separate fact from feeling. I realize this is emotion; I realize there are facts at play. Neither realization changes my subjective experience of this. Not today. Not yet.

Last week, Polkadot was brave enough to write about how sometimes even an IF gal feels feelings that bring forth guilt and sorrow at another IF gal's BFP announcement. I left a comment on the post, but it seems blogger ate it. My comment basically said "you are not alone; I have felt this way too." It was a comment that was hard to write, so when blogger ate it, I just clicked away, too exhausted emotionally to write it again. (Sorry, C :(.)

It's actually been more recent that I've had these feelings and to say that guilt accompanies them would be the biggest understatement of the century. I'm not sure which is worse, the sorrow I feel at the announcement or the guilt. There truly is no way to explain the complex emotions that surround a fellow IFer announcing she is pregnant or adopting. And there seems to be a lot of that happening lately. 

But yesterday, a specific one of our own, one who has been a source of hope and inspiration to so many of us finally got her miracle. Yes, I am referring to Amy at TCIE.

It was Amy's comment on my first IF post that made my heart leap, I'd admired her for years before I even knew I was IF and to see her take a moment to comment meant the world to me.

It was Amy's blog that I spent hours upon hours reading the archives, seeking for a way to survive this.

And when I got her text that she had emailed. I knew. 

And the subject line of her email. I knew.

And I rejoiced. I was working and so I could not shout from the rooftops, but I could rejoice.

Joy. Nothing but joy as I celebrated for and with this beautiful friend of mine.

Both/and.

Et et.

When I read her post was when the rest of it happened. The tears came. The sobs came. The guilt came. When the both/and came to be.

I've spent much of the past 24 hours trying to figure out what it was that caused the tears. The sadness. The guilt. And here is what I've come up with.

Something about seeing it on her blog was what made it touch my infertile heart. Before that, it was a friend who I have prayed for, yelled at God on behalf of, and asked that her prayers be answered before mine. Hence the rejoicing.

But the rejoicing didn't stop my pain. And this time it was different. I was not sad because Amy is pregnant and I am not, no, there is only joy there. I sent this in an email to her, never intending to make it public, but honestly, I think it needs to be here. It is such a part of this road, and reminds me so much of a post Amy herself wrote about why does God give us a support system only to take it away? 

You see, once upon a time, when she still had a public blog, B at Hebrews wrote about Infertile Island. About how we are here, and we all want to get off this island and we rejoice when someone leaves, but it still leaves those of us here, right where we are. We have no way of getting ourselves off this island, it is God and God alone who can do that. And when one of our sisters leaves, we rejoice and at the same time we are sad to see her go. Because the island is a little less now.

And so, here is what I said to Amy:
The island of infertility is a little less fun because you are off it, and I am so glad you are gone, but I already miss you.
I miss you so much it hurts.
And I feel awful for that, because I miss you, but as much as I miss you, I am infinitely more glad you are gone from this island.
Because no matter how much any one of us wants to deny it or explain it. Those of us who do not have children, who have never seen a BFP, who have never had the phone call. For us, there is nothing to soothe our hearts. There is no promise, that even in the worst case scenario that we will be reunited with our children in heaven. As Amy said, she is forever more a mother. (And please, I am not comparing the pain of primary infertility with miscarriage, this is a fact. I am aware it brings no consolation.) We are left on this island, ever aware that it is not up to us if or when we will get to leave.

When we leave this island, it is a cause for joy. For rejoicing. For enjoying every. single. moment. of motherhood that comes. Be it a short time on earth or a lifetime. I do not begrudge any one of you who has experienced motherhood, if even only for a moment, any of your joy. Please - rejoice. Dance. Praise God. Give thanks. Celebrate. All of it. For every moment that you rejoice reminds me that all of this pain is real. That it is not made up in my head. That it is justified. That infertility is awful.

That no matter how this turns out, the joy of children is all that I imagine it to be and more. That no matter how fruitful my marriage is, no matter how much joy I experience without children, the joy of children is just as joyful as I think it to be. No, I do not mean that it is the most joyful thing I could experience, that can only be done in fully living God's will for my life - and if that is a life without children, then that is where I shall find true joy. But, this does not mean that a life with children is any less joyful. Both/and. Et et.

And so, tonight I try to wrap my mind around the fact that this island is different. Forever changed. Somewhere there is a new woman shedding her very first tears over a BFN, wondering if anyone else feels like she does, joining us on this island. Changing it in her own way. And one who has encouraged us and supported us and helped to us to embrace this island, to embrace this cross, has finally left.

And so, to you, my dear friend, in addition to all that I said in the email I sent you, I say this:

Congratulations!!! Rejoice and be glad. Thank you for the countless prayers, posts, emails, texts and conversations. Thank you for showing us all how to do this. Thank you for loving us all and embracing each one of us as we got off the boat and slowly, fearfully found our place on this island. Celebrate every moment and feel no guilt, for now you can show us that motherhood is both as wonderful and as hard as we imagine it to be. Both/and. Et et.

I have never been so happy to be so sad in all my life. This island will not be the same without you and I am so so glad you are off of it.

Deo gratias.

27 comments:

  1. Best line in the entire post -

    "Somewhere there is a new woman shedding her very first tears over a BFN, wondering if anyone else feels like she does, joining us on this island. Changing it in her own way. And one who has encouraged us and supported us and helped to us to embrace this island, to embrace this cross, has finally left."

    That sums up this ever changing journey of IF. No two journeys are the same and we don't get to pick who enters or exits the island. Thanks for sharing this post. Both/And sums up the emotions when hearing about fellow IFers getting pregnant. Beautiful insight!

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  2. You are so much better a person than me.

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    1. Sorry, Rebecca. That was such a weird thing to say.

      Since it won't let me delete that, what I meant is just what a beautiful, faithful soul you have. Also, I thank you put into (such beautiful) words what so many of us feel and struggle with, too. Thank you.

      Love you, friend.

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  3. This is so beautiful. I kept saying, "Yes!" through the entire post. thank you for writing this I agree with Amanda. that is the best line. The both/and idea changed my life actually. Before, I thought I was just really confused. Now, I know that it's okay to be both. Along with Amy, you, Jelly Belly and Catholic Mutt are prayed for at every Mass I attend (consecration and prayers of the faithful) and to St Jude (most days:)). Thank you for leading this ever changing, ever evolving island.

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  4. You are in my thoughts and prayers so often, my friend. Although events over the past few days may indicate a change for me, DH and I are only weeks away from our 4 year 'anniversary' of TTC and IF. I don't know what the future holds for you or for me, but I pray we both find permanent residence off this island. Right now, I feel as though I am sitting in a rowboat in the shallow waters surrounding the island, not sure whether or not I'll be able to make it across the vast ocean to a new dwelling place. You are so right, none of us ever knows if we'll join the IF island, or if/when we'll be able to leave. We have a kinship that cannot be underestimated. Hugs, friend.

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  5. When I saw someone sharing Amy's announcement, I immediately thought of you and came over here to see if you had written anything. Know that if you were even remotely near me, I would be bringing over a bottle of wine and hugging the crap out of you.

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  6. I had the hardest time writing a comment in Amy's blog because I knew someone who is also praying for their miracle would be hurt or offended by my words. However, I tried to say it simply - the world is rejoicing because of this very, very new life!! Our IF community has prayed for Amy for nearly six years (Amy, Sew, Karey, and a few others began blogging the same time I did in 2008) and this specific answer to prayer has seemed to affirm my battered faith right now. I do want to be honest, as I now struggle with secondary IF, the joy/guilt still arises when I see my friends blessed with new children to add to their family. I feel great joy for them, yet desperately want the chance to receive such gifts from God as well. Hope none if my words cause pain to another's heart, praying for you and Jen!

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  7. Beautiful honest post. Love ya.

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  8. Both/and seems completely normal!! I think you've described the feelings of many people, really beautifully I would add! I hope this makes sense...I'm grateful that even though Infertile Island seems like a very real place, our shared land of Faith and Love is even more real, and everyone lives there, IF gals and mothers.

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  9. Rebecca, as always, this was very well said. I don't believe I knew about Infertile Island before this post, but as much as it sucks to be here, I'm glad I'm there with you and the many other kind, strong women that make up this community of support. Now, if only we can get God to give us a tiki bar and some shirtless cabana men while we pray to get outta here!

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  10. No matter who gets a BFP...whether they have been trying less than a year or ten years...those who are still left behind...hurt. So much is going on in our own family...new marriages, etc...there are going to be babies...and for me...who hasn't ever had that joy...will hurt. My dh and I discuss whether this will be my life...as far as I know..."yes". It's the cross God gave me and I just try my best to carry it with grace. Most of the women on this blog are younger than me...and most will go on to have babies...that is not the case for me. Age is no longer my friend. Anyways..my point is for me....IF is my cross and I just have to live with it...and I do know I'm not alone. Sorry if this is all over the place...I don't wish to be here but I am and I have to live with it. I hope someday you get off the island too.

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  11. Beautifully said. I hope you don't mind me adding that, even as a pregnant woman, I still struggle with the both/and sometimes. Motherhood and its accompanying struggles effect each of us so deeply--there is just no way around that. Prayers for you today!

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  12. What a beautiful, honest tribute. Praying for you today and every day!

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  13. Beautiful, Rebecca. Your honesty and the way you share it is so helpful for me and I'm sure for others too. Thank you for writing about this and being an example for all of us dealing with these complex emotions. Praying for you!

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  14. agreed and agreed, many times over. I haven't heard that island analogy before, but it's right on.I'm excited about adopting, but still I'm not sure if I will ever feel as if I have left the island.

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  15. Crap, this made me cry. Spot on with this post, but I'm a little too emotional to write more than congratulations at this point. Even though I'm already a mother through adoption, this announcement hit me differently than most. TCIE and I (along with Jen & misfit & many others) have all been blogging so long, and part of the "old-timers" club, if you will, and we've always prayed for miracles...but after a while you just get used to the fact that there are some of us who will probably never get pregnant. And when one of us actually miraculously does, well it's plain awesome but devastating at the same time. For God's sake I took two pregnancy tests this week. I haven't taken a test on over 4 years.

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    1. And I apologize for the disjointed comment. I may have taken a demi bottle of prosecco into the bath with me tonight after an extremely rough day ;).

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  16. And you have been blogging that long as well! I didn't mean for it to sound... Oh geez. Obviously, I need to not comment tipsy, haha. Sorry.

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  17. So, perfectly said. I dream that we're all off the island, one day.

    There's always hope for that.

    God willing.

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  18. Thank you for writing this. So beautiful!

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  19. Loved this post! It's so true.

    I have the reaction of being happy for them/sad for me when non-IFs tell me they're pregnant. But when someone "on the island" announces a pregnancy, it gives me so much hope, especially when that person has been trying longer/as long as we have.

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  20. Your comment is (still) on my blog. Did you write a longer one first and then blogger ate it? Thanks for writing it and this post. I honestly thought I could get kicked out of the blogging community for admitting that.

    I really like this line you wrote: "And I feel awful for that, because I miss you, but as much as I miss you, I am infinitely more glad you are gone from this island." So true.

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  21. Your post rings so true - happiness and pain - that's what I felt too, if I am being honest.
    I also identify with Sarah's phrasing, "but after a while you just get used to the fact that there are some of us who will probably never get pregnant. And when one of us actually miraculously does, well it's plain awesome but devastating at the same time."
    It is so much harder to hear pregnancy announcements not knowing how long it will be before you become a mother yourself. (((((HUGS))))))

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  22. I'm only getting to read this now, and my dear, I love you so much it hurts.
    The same line Amanda pointed out brought me to tears. Thank you for your honesty, for your joy and happiness for me, for your motherly support of your own heart and the heart of all childless women, and most of all, for being you and for your friendship.

    Thank you.

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