Wednesday, April 24, 2013

NIAW - reflections on IF

Happy National Infertility Awareness Week.

I know what you're thinking. What part of infertility is happy?

I set that up like I was going to tell you all the redeeming things about IF. Like I was going to tell you that now that I have a baby, it's all good. Like I was going to tell you that IF taught me some valuable life lessons.

Nope. Sorry.

Infertility sucked a#%.

But it has been the dark forest through which I needed to walk to get to this.

I am still infertile.

And now I am also a mother.

5-day blastocyst photo and 3-week-old Gummy in the flesh, with her parents.

Friday, April 19, 2013

don't touch my bebeh

Many a pregnant woman dreads the belly rub from a stranger. I was fearing it myself a few months ago, as my expanding belly became more appealing to the common groper. I am happy to report that it never happened, despite my apprehension that it was just a matter of time before someone would touch my abdomen without my permission. Some close friends rubbed my belly after I gave them permission and that was a-ok. My mom rubbed it once after asking me, but it turns out I really meant to say no, so I backed away and that was that. Thankfully, no one else tried to cop a feel.

I was taking a walk yesterday with gummy in the mo.by. This woman clad in a completely coral outfit (coral sweat pants and coral t-shirt. Did she have coral socks and coral underwear? I didn't care to know) came up to me cooing over my baby. And then, she did the thing that annoys me the most: she tried to touch my baby's face.

This happened twice before, which annoyed me then too. Granted, once she was touched by a 2.5-year-old who was excited to see her. I wasn't as annoyed with this child, as I was scared for my own. The 2.5-year-old had just been sick with a cold and my baby was only 3-weeks old. I could picture myself in the emergency room AGAIN in short order. But no. My baby was fine. The other time, we were walking downtown and this woman from church tried to touch my baby's face.  I wanted to punch her.

Faced with the situation of strangers touching my baby's face, I see only two options:

Option 1
Barricade myself and gummy inside our home. Deal with crushing isolation and develop PPD (like I'm not already at huge risk. So, no.)

Option 2 (the option I've been exercising)
Swat at the ladies' hands like they are flies. Yes, you read correctly. Swat at them.

I'm incredibly surprised at how emboldened I've become as a new mother. I don't want anyone's germs on my brand new, immuno-fragile (what's the word here, science bloggers?) baby. So I've been, reflexively at first, and now consciously, swatting people's hands off my girl. It goes against every fiber of my good-girl upbringing, and it is incredibly satisfying.

So if we see each other on the street and you want to touch my baby, please identify yourself as a fellow blogger. I'll bust out the hand sanitizer and let you tickle her very fat cheeks. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

new season

Babies are born everyday. This fact is so painfully salient to us when none of those babies born on all of those days are ours. We see it on facebook, we get birth announcements by email or snail mail, we bump into a neighbor who lets us know the young woman in the third house from ours just had her baby. It all feels like a gong show, doesn't it. I experienced it like a wave of saltwater constantly pouring over my head, never letting me catch my breath. Like an assault. It left me feeling so completely powerless and dejected. Everyone has babies. I can't have a baby.

And what of those babies?

And what of those lovely couples having the babies that I just couldn't bring myself to hate, even though they were embodying everything that brought me pain?

I felt so torn about those babies, about those couples. Some couples were easy to dismiss using a mental short cut that allowed me to reduce their existence to "fertiles" instead of "people". I could do that with people I didn't know well, and it helped me be such a crass reductionist. I didn't have the energy to see them as people. I know I am capable of more, but I also know I was hurting. And then there were couples or women with whom I was close, and in that lied the true learning for me. I couldn't dismiss them: they were dear to me and in order to continue those friendships, I had to dig a little deeper. I couldn't always do that, but I am glad I made the decision to try.

But the babies, even though I ignored a lot of them, the babies got to me. What had they done? They didn't ask to be born. But here they were, and they deserved and were celebrated by everyone. And it killed me a little to not be able to fully celebrate their births. I understood why and I cut myself some slack about it (since, you know, the newborns wouldn't be aware of my less-than-whole excitement about their births). But it still killed me a little inside.

I didn't know if having a baby would change that for me. I hoped it would, but I wasn't counting on it. But oh my, it DID change in such a big way.

There were a few babies born around the time of gummy's birth or shortly thereafter. I noticed the contrast right away. It thrilled me to receive the birth announcements. THRILLED ME. I am so surprised by it and so incredibly delighted. It's like trying out a new food you're sure you will hate, and you taste it and it's the most delicious thing you've had. ever.

It hit me last week, when I went for a walk with another Augusta. She and I know each other through Mr. A, but not very well at all. We were in the same prenatal yoga class in the fall, and were always friendly towards each other. On one of the many monitoring visits to the hospitals in the 2 weeks before gummy's birth, we met her and her husband in triage. She was coming in to be induced. We were being sent home to wait a little longer for our induction. I couldn't stop thinking of her for those days after we saw them.

Augusta and I (she goes by Augie and I go by 'Gusta) connected over email and went for a walk together last week. It was a glorious spring day, and it was a wonderful walk. I enjoyed her company so very much. The line between fertile and infertile didn't matter as much. We were both new mothers, walking our darling girls in their strollers on a spring day. Her sweet girl is so beautiful (and in an uncanny way, she and gummy look like twins). As we walked, we saw a patch of snow drops with some purple crocuses amidst them. We stopped to admire the flowers and let their beauty, and that of the day and our new motherhood fill our hearts.

Then, the other Augusta said: "It's like the flowers are celebrating our babies' birth."

And I couldn't agree more.*

borrowed from www.puddle-cottage.co.uk
   

*And I am so relieved that my heart is showing signs of not being completely embittered by the experience of infertility.