Wednesday, October 5, 2016

This mountain....

I haven't written since the birth of our sweet D in April! It's now October.  We are almost 6 months in to this parenting thing... and our baby is growing so fast!  I've been wanting to get back to writing for some time.  Part of the problem is things happen faster than I can process them!  I've been keeping a journal for this reason.  But, I saw this note and it resonated.

I thought I was going to wrap this blog up, put a neat little bow on it and put it away; as if it was something I could just move on from with the birth of our child.  Even going so far as to title my last post "our happily ever after." I'm sure people roll their eyes and wonder if I will ever stop talking about this.  Who knew? I wont! This just doesn't work like that.

The mark of infertility is one that will always be with us - even after we managed to get the monkey off of our back with a successful pregnancy.  It is the base line that we will always return to.... because it was our baseline for so long.  In my situation it is ingrained so deep I am still not sure when I will actually believe that D is here and he is ours. I STILL feel like I am living in a dream.

After D's birth, I took a 12 week leave from work.  I soaked up every second with my newborn. And I mean EVERY second. I took WAY too many pictures. I was as obsessive as one can be. I filled two 300+ photo albums before he was even 3 months old! (the gig will be up when I pull those out ....he is going to know just how nutty his momma is!)  I could spend hours just rocking him in his nursery. We would read books and take the dogs for long walks.  It was heaven.

I was obnoxiously happy to be taking care of our little miracle.  But, I also felt an immense sense of loss with each passing day.  D will most likely be my only baby so I had a white knuckle death grip on time.  As if I could somehow manipulate the clock into stopping somehow. The irony does not escape me.  Life is not meant to stay stagnant.  I know this. That was one of the things I disliked about life before D. Every day was always the same in a lot of ways.  Life after D is now in a constant state of change.  No two days are the same. And this is exactly what I had wished for, yet I just wanted it to slow down so I could savor it just a little longer.

By taking all those photos I was trying to hold on as well as prove to myself this was all REALLY happening.  I took "soaking up every second" so seriously that it created that sense of loss. I got so caught up in focusing on the fact that I would never have those sweet baby moments back again that I completely lost sight of all the awesome things we have to look forward to.

It was the same when I got pregnant - I couldn't relax.  We had two embryos successfully implant, then, we lost one. D remained and they assured me he was healthy and thriving.  When we found his heartbeat I was relieved but still... constantly worried about miscarriage. For 10 months, I was just waiting for the disappointment.  This, my friends is the result of telling yourself you don't deserve something. I did that for many years.  I conditioned my mind in order to cope with a reality I felt I had to accept. It's the sort of thought process that will probably take many years to reverse.

I refused to even think about daycare until the night before his first day. I knew that this was the best decision for our family and my child would be well taken care of. Those considerations had been made during pregnancy.  Still, that morning, I felt my heart crack.  Our little bubble was popped and I caught myself feeling a deep sadness and overwhelming anxiety.

I love mommy-hood. This felt like giving up my baby.  I had to remind myself that he was still MINE and I would pick him up at the end of the day. That may sound preposterous to you. Of course, intellectually I know he is my child. But emotionally it's been hard to convince myself that this new happiness that I have found is here to stay.  This baby is FINALLY in my arms.  Asking me to drop him off somewhere else to be cared for is like asking me to cut off my right foot.  However, it was irrational to believe that we could remain in our bubble indefinitely. Reality being what it is and all.

This has always manifested as anxiety. I tend to get caught up in a whirlwind of irrational thoughts and worry about $hit that doesn't matter.  I obsess.  Occasionally, I drive the people around me nuts.

Because the anxiety is well documented in my medical chart, we were repetitively educated about PPD before we left the hospital.  One nurse, who had had a 20 year battle with infertility herself, assured me that yes, it was possible to suffer with PPD even though you had wanted this so badly and for so long. We listened, we took note of their advice and inside I thought, "you don't understand people, I am CURED now!"  And once again, I am here to say... I was wrong.

S would tell you I am happier than I have ever been.  AND he is absolutely, 100% correct... I AM. To be clear, I do NOT suffer from PPD, but with each milestone I find my anxieties reaching up from where I buried them...trying to rob me of my joy.

So, I fight them off.

I have learned that I have to be my own best friend.  I have to sit myself down for pep talks and reality checks. By recognizing and correcting those irrational thoughts I tame the beast.  I know my anxieties will never be "cured." This is just another part of parenthood.  There are so many more anxiety triggers with a child than without. This is really just the beginning. All parents cope with anxiety on some level. My lens is just colored by infertility.  All that we have been through has given me the tools I need to better manage that anxiety. I just need to stay mindful of it.

I honestly thought pregnancy was the end of our infertility story.  The truth is... it will always be there, forcing me to ask myself if I am truly worthy, and when will this all be taken away? That's OK, I welcome that voice.  It makes me a better mother than I would have been without the struggle.  The challenges of parenthood will always be a gift to me.   I will never forget the mountain that we moved and I will always appreciate this beautiful boy with the luminous smile who has made me a Mommy.

My past posts are the result of going to hell and back again and trying to rationalize all of it. Attempting to find logic where there is none. We gave up countless times only to try again.  Over, under, around and through, ... we heard "no" multiple times and in a variety of ways. Sometimes "no" just means "not now" for reasons that you (or I) will never understand.    

If you are out there wondering and waiting please keep this story close to your heart.  If you told me a few years ago that today I'd be holding this joyful baby boy, I'd have a hard time believing you.  You will find your way, those mountains WILL move.  You just have to keep the faith and remain determined.  The only way to lose the battle is to give up fighting.  Your happy ending may not be exactly what you had imagined .. it may actually be better!   

Don't forget to check out Stirrup Queens web page for more blogs and info!

In love and light.. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

our happily ever after

14 years. Looking back it's really hard to believe that we waded through 14 years of heartbreak to get to this year of our lives.  This year where we finally got answers... when we finally saw those better days we knew were just around the bend. 

My name is Shannon and I am a survivor.

A survivor of the unknown.  

I married my husband at the ripe ol' age of 20.  When I met him at the age of 17 I knew he was my other half. From the night of our first date we were inseparable. We finished high school and took on the world together.  We went off to college, got an apartment and did our best to stay afloat. Things were never perfect but we were always a team.  We were married in the fall of 2001.

Our first date: Dec 1997
Our wedding day: 9.14.01
Over the next couple of years we continued to build our life, we moved back home to be closer to our family, we searched for two years to find our own home.  We spent the next couple of years after that renovating that home.  You know that saying... "if you build it, they will come" ... yes, all the while we hoped to get our family started.  

I remember the summer of 2003.  Two years into the game..... someone had told me a story of a couple who had tried for 10 years before they were successful... it stunned me. I remember thinking for the first time... could that end up being us?  And who knew..... it was.

From that point on our story played out like the roller coaster ride that only an infertile knows.  Hope, disappointment, anger, frustration, fear, desperation to numbness.  And then you start all over again.  

We started with my OBGYN and moved on to the closest fertility clinic which is about an hour and a half from our home.  I was 23 years old and S was 24 and the doctors weren't really on board with how serious I felt the issue was.  To them, I was young and still had plenty of time.  Even though in the same sentence they would acknowledge my most fertile years were quickly passing us by.  We started with Chlomid treatments and worked our way through the check list to finally arrive at IUI (intrauterine-insemination).  IUI's were covered by our insurance company.  All in all we completed (5) IUI cycles.  And by the last failure I had reached the end of my rope.  All those  months, all those hormones, all those miles.  I was completely exhausted and the emotional baggage had taken it's toll on our marriage. We needed a break.   So, we decided to take one of the doctors advice ... we started traveling.  Las Vegas, Mexico, Jamaica.... we chased the sun where ever and whenever we could.  We made some beautiful memories.  In the in-between we also worked on adoption through our local foster care system.  We completed our home study and completed the required parenting classes  to become certified foster parents.  This route just turned into another dead end for us due to the circumstances of our local social services department.  So... we booked a few more trips... St. Maarten, Florida and Jamaica two more times.  

Mexico 2009

Jamaica 2010

I studied Yoga and became a certified teacher,  I took piano lessons and I started this blog.

It occurred to me one day how much shame surrounds being infertile.  I sat there thinking of all the couples I knew who had never had children growing up and wondering about their circumstances. Even my own grandmother, who didn't have my father until she was 40 years old (pretty unique in 1960!)  How some of my friends treated me differently because of it.  Why are we so afraid to talk about it? 

I also spent those last 5 years or so obsessing and turning my wheels in anxiety - cleaning my home of toxins. I made my own laundry detergents, soaps, cleaning products.  I cleared the kitchen of anything plastic and cleaned up my diet as well.  I checked acupuncture, massage therapy and energy healing off the list. I had told myself I was "letting go" but in reality I was holding on tighter than ever to the hope that one of these things would be my answer.   I learned A LOT and all of these paths brought me many benefits of a healthier life..... body, mind and soul; they just didn't lead me to any physical answers surrounding my infertility diagnosis.  

Ironically, my last blog entry was in June of 2015. By July I was back at the clinic.  A few things transpired that gave me the courage to walk back into the clinic.  My 35th birthday was fast approaching in November.  A friend reminded me... "it's never too late."  I met two very kind and compassionate doctors who completely changed my opinions of those in the medical field.  

One of those doctors was my new OBGYN and during my visit to meet her we discussed all of these things.  She looked me dead in the eye and said in the most caring but forward way that she could...... "You can spin your wheels with all of that as much as you want but if you want real results ... you have to go back to the clinic. "  

And she was totally right.  I had been searching for answers like a needle in the proverbial haystack. Was it some strange chemical in my shampoo?  I was driving myself (and my husband) bonkers.   I was over it.  I may never know what is/was wrong with my body. Eventually (whether it resulted in pregnancy or not) I was going to HAVE to come to terms with this.  Why not now?

It was then and there I found my resolve.  I cringed as I suggested this to my husband.  He surprised me by getting on board.  He had his reservations... and we talked about them... it's not an easy path to take and we were well aware of all the pot holes along the way.  But we had to try.  My biggest fear has always been regret.  I never wanted to reach that day when reproduction just wasn't possible and think WHY didn't I just do everything I could?  

The hard part was the money.  Unlike IUI,  my health insurance provided no benefit for IVF.  So this is a bit like taking $11,000 and putting it all on black at the roulette table. It's a total gamble.  You could walk away with nothing.  The planets seemed to align for us this time tho as we were approved for a grant through the department of health.  It covered $6,000 of the cost! It was a true god-send and brought our out of pocket expense down to $5,000 plus travel.   

We started the hormone therapies and the next thing we knew we were ready for retrieval (8 eggs!!) and then transplant... we had three viable embryos.  We decided to place two and freeze one.  The procedure went well.  

We had a 10 day wait to the blood test where we would find out if it worked.  I remember my girlfriend trying to talk me into taking an at home test.  I had a bunch of tests in my cupboard... but I just couldn't stomach the thought.  I joked about having PTSD from all those prior negative results.  I had worked so hard at envisioning our future positively for the transfer.... I couldn't figure it out when it came to the actual moment we got our "BFP" (big fat positive).   Every time I tried I just went blank.   I spent those 10 days practicing yoga and meditation and thinking positively.  

The way it all transpired is comical in a way.  I woke up that morning and put on my new tank top my friend had gotten me with the words "POSITIVE MIND. POSITIVE VIBES. POSITIVE LIFE." It was truly my mantra.  I went up to the clinic, they took my blood and I headed back home in a daze.  I was still on the highway when they called.  I pulled over the side of the road and I still get chills when I think about the words I finally got to hear....."Shannon," they said... "it worked, you are PREGNANT!!"  I was literally shaking with joy.    
Our announcement 

I pulled myself together and drove out to my  husbands job site.  There was no way I was delivering this news over the phone.  He didn't tell me until after but he was completely prepared for a negative. He was in complete shock. I think that now, at almost 33 weeks into this, it's just starting to sink in.  I can see him getting more and more excited the closer we get.   

Life is funny the way it works itself out.  

A pic from our maternity shoot, taken on that same dock we married on in 2001

When things don't seem to be working out the way we planned we get frustrated and angry.  We operate out of desperation and fear. Patience and faith are the two virtues that were always the hardest to come by for me.  Hindsight has allowed me to see that part of my barriers back in the early days were my own attitude, my own negativity.    Only now can I look back and appreciate the journey for what is was .... a true adventure.  

Our story... it allowed us to learn and grow into the people we are today.  I'm not sure if any other challenge could have worked on us like this one did.  Now I can see clearly that this IS the best possible time for us to start our family.  We are both in a wonderful place professionally, financially and emotionally.  Had we gotten our wish 7 years ago... things would have been much different and dare I say much harder especially when it comes to working out the logistics of parenthood.   

30 weeks and growing! 

14 years.... and now if feels like our lives are just beginning. We couldn't have made it here if we didn't have hope, but it did take more to create our happy ending.  We had to take action. We are so thankful to the medical professionals who helped us along the way, the medical procedures that made all of this possible and the true miracle that is modern science.  I may never know why my body could not do this on it's own... and finally, I am at peace with that. 

Don't forget to check out Stirrup Queens web page for more blogs and info!

In love and light.. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

on authenticity....

My last post was one that was hard to write and probably even harder to relate to. Especially if you are a parent.  I get it, I really do.  Trouble is, my perspective is a bit shrouded as much as I have always tried to deny it.

This blog has been a platform for transformation.  I've always written to myself, but never have I opened all my deepest, sometimes darkest thoughts and feelings to be viewed by the general public.  It is the equivalent of getting on stage naked, opening the door for all to judge.  It is exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. 

It can be a freeing experience... but you have to be confident enough to know that just because someone disagrees with you, doesn't make you wrong. You focus on the connection with those readers who can relate, those readers who you may help.

Why do I keep clicking the publish button? 

 #1:  Those of us affected by infertility are everywhere... but we don't know it.  No one is walking around with a sign that says... "I can't make babies, no matter how hard I try." I do it because they are out there and they may be comforted by the fact that I am out here too.  Being an avid reader, I have survived some of the hardest times of my life by burying myself in a book.  It has worked as both a distraction from whatever current misery I was experiencing and it has served to guide me. I have met characters that have been through the same things or even worse.  I have felt huge gasps of relief when I read something and realized that I'm not the only one.  If I can bring that type of relief to just one person, than mission accomplished.

#2: I do it for me.  I do it because I know that this project, above all others has forced my growth. Each entry is a meditation.  Some of these perspectives may not be "right" by popular opinion, but that is not always the goal.  The promise that I made to my readers (and to myself) when I began was honesty and as hard as that may be at times, I still remain committed to the good, the bad and the ugly.

At the same time, I've used a lot of energy denying anger, confusion and frustration.  I never wanted them to see the light of day.  As you may have read, I swore I'd never be "that" girl.  You know, the one who could admit that her dreams were not coming true and she's damn pissed about it (and why SHOULDN'T she be)??  This is a question I've only been able to ask myself most recently. In all of my spouting off about being grateful and accepting things as they are, I neglected to consider that my way of coping may not have been the most productive or even healthy.  That maybe "that girl" had it right.  She accepted her anger and she was shameless about it.  While I refused to admit I HAD feelings like these...and in the end, jokes on me, my shame has been holding me hostage.

As we all kinda know, denying our feelings does not make them go away.  Sometimes, the harder we try to stuff something down the worse it can be when it comes back up.  And it will ALWAYS come back up. 

Writing this has meant processing all of those things I have refused to face over these years.  The ugly emotions may not be charming or funny, but they are human and most importantly, they are real.  And for all the times I have spoken of letting something go.... well..... how do you let it go when it's stuck down deep, right where you buried it? 

I suppose the only choice I have IS to dig it all up, let it all out and I hope in the end that means REALLY letting it all go.  Having never realized that my shame stemmed not from infertility but from the negative emotions I had in regard to it.... this is my new mantra......., "in your face" shame!

Through these entries I have had to see myself from the outside, identify some of my blind spots, confront my transgressions and develop a better understanding of all of it. I have challenged my own way of thinking and it's been a work in progress....200%.  Because of this, I remain confident that my best days are in front of me.

Those of you given the gift of parenthood really have it so much easier in so many ways.  There is no denying your purpose in life.  There is no questioning why you need to get out of bed in the morning.  You have a built-in escape hatch from life's drudgery.... if you've had a bad day all you really need to do is talk or play with your child to be reminded of life's simplicity, fun & beauty. 

When my father passed away... things got dark. Having my three year old niece around was a profound relief on my heavy heart.   When she wasn't nearby I longed to see her. She brought light where I couldn't find my own.  So yeah, I get it.  Just being in the presence of a child brings you to a higher level of love and a feeling of basic joy.  Thing is, I didn't need to be a mother to experience that or appreciate it.  On my list of losses are experiences moms take for granted completely.  The overall message of my last post was this.... please, don't add love to the list too. 

It's not that easy for those of us on the infertile spectrum... or should I just say "me" if I'm really going to own it? ....... he hem,  it's not that easy for ME to watch everyone around me move on in their lives. Yes, I get frustrated when I hear people complain about either being a parent or the three months of "torture" it took them to get pregnant.  It's not easy for me to sit back and just be patient, because as so many have tried to reassure me... that's all I have to do. (HA!).  How's 13 years of patient for you?  That ship sailed.  I have to dig deeper to find that reason to get out of bed every morning. 

I am still looking for that all encompassing purpose in my life.  There are days that this sort of existence can just leave you spinning.  Being grateful is one way to answer that - and it's always been my go-to but it doesn't always comes easy.  Heck, it really NEVER comes easy.  It's just that some days are better than others.

Don't forget to check out Stirrup Queens web page for more blogs and info!


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

what's love got to do with it?

Scrolling through my newsfeed  (I wonder how many blogs start out just like that)...... I see so many declarations of  motherhood and this above-all-else-in-the-universe-love.  You know what I'm talking about... "you don't know love until you're a parent" and blah blah f'n BLAH

Usually, I just roll my eyes and keep scrolling. But today I guess I've got something to say. 

I realize people are just taking pride in themselves, in what they are, and in what they do.  I get it.  But why? Why do we consistently have this overwhelming need to raise our flag so high that we overshadow all others? Is it part of being an American?  Or just a human?   

Everyone wants to be the same. How boring! Here I am generalizing again, which is probably annoying and many would fault me for...but it is MY blog and I see it like this.....

Love is not some super human power that only mothers are gifted when they give birth.  We are ALL capable of experiencing unconditional, gut wrenching love. Stop limiting yourselves and most importantly all of us. 

This special sort of love that only a mother knows.... it is the most preposterous thing I have ever heard.  I try to tell myself they are all probably right tho.  I try to consider that someday if I have children I may stand right beside them and make my own proclamation of this new and singular existence.  This better-than-anything-love that you speak of.  But on second thought, even if I felt that way I can promise you I wouldn't be screaming it from the mountain tops.
#1: It's not true.....  I may not have children but I know love.  I know it unconditionally and inside out. I know the joy and happiness and I know the loss and sacrifice.  That's the thing about love.... we can all feel it and we all deserve it.

#2:  I believe we are here to support each other.  I don't believe that the only people who deserve to be lifted are those who are walking the same path as I am.   

The trouble is that very few of us take the time to be considerate to others.  It makes all the difference in the world, in our society and our communities when we appreciate the effects our actions and our words have on those around us. I'm not talking about tip-toeing around and never expressing your opinion.... I am talking about being respectful and supportive to all.  Not just your SELF and those just like you.

So many are so busy showing off their accomplishments in life (in competition with others) that this is forgotten.   We need to appreciate the value of the differences in those around us.  Even though we all have a different circumstance, we all have a purpose. 

It is my belief that we are here to learn from each other... not to become a carbon copy. Be inspired by others'..... not to be just like they are; but to find your own light and shine it for others just as it was shown for you.  

The act of motherhood is not exclusive to childbirth and actually comes into everyones
life in so many different forms. 

Mothers, please, take pride in your role as a parent, but do us all a favor and teach your children that love is not exclusive... it is INclusive.  Our society would take a giant leap forward if we all brought a little more love to the table.  Stop declaring yourselves the only ones capable of experiencing it.  What if your child turns out to be infertile?  What if your child doesn't want children?  By your definition this would make their lives almost worthless right? Maybe this is something you've never considered.. and I bet deep down you don't really believe it.  You simply don't really know the weight of your proclamations. 


Don't forget to check out Stirrup Queens webpage for more blogs and info!







Friday, March 20, 2015

The (de)lusion that is control.

I've gained some (more) perspective and decided to adopt a new way of thinking (big surprise right!)

Over these 13 (count em!) years I've come to understand (and tried to process) a multitude of emotions. There have been moments of hope and excitement that were consistently followed by disappointment, frustration and anger.  To be fair we should probably mention the numbness that comes in between.

The negative emotions have (of course) been the strongest, most persistent and overall, the biggest challenge to (try) to overcome.  I can understand why people get grumpy as they get older. They've been burned somewhere (or multiple times) along the line. Life "shit" wears you down. When you are handed heartbreak it's tough work to resist the bitterness. We all get one rotten card in our hand; I suppose infertility is mine.

They say negative emotions can manifest externally. We develop behaviors and coping mechanisms in response... these things that pacify us... we cling to our habits and routines and most importantly we invest valuable resources to build those (internal) walls. The good, the bad and the ugly... the things that we rely on to get us through every day.  It can apply to any situation really, not just infertility.  

I've realized that in order to make up for a loss of control over one area of my life..I unconsciously focused all my energies on controlling whatever else I could.  No failure. No excuses.  I tend to take EVERYTHING pretty seriously. That has NOT kept me from failing along the way .... I'm just saying it's been me exhausting myself ... kinda like a gerbil on a wheel.   


It's starting to settle in that not everything is important. It doesn't really ALL matter. Not all battles are winnable. I am imperfect; I mess things up ALL the time... and that's ok.  Failure and disappointment are all a part of life. The sooner we learn what to do with them, the better off we are. This is why I believe it's so important for kids to play sports.   This is a life skill that can't be taught through anything but first hand experience.  Playing sports teaches us not only to push our limits and set goals but how to handle things when they don't go our way.
The result of my rigid self-expectations has been anxiety...which is ironic since anxiety is the LAST thing an infertile woman needs.  Anxiety is your bodies indication of fight or flight mode. When we want our body to reproduce it should be calm and feel safe. It is not likely that our cells will reproduce if they are completely distracted by survival. I don't have to do the research to know anxiety and obsessive behaviors are common in women dealing with any infertility diagnoses. I am not alone in this and I guess it all just comes along with the territory

I cope with the anxiety by way of O.C.D. Which is where all that perfecting business comes into play. I tend to be fixated with my environment... the placement of things, the food I eat and how much excercise I get. If I don't feel in control of these area's of my life... and I can't move something, clean something, organize something, eat something I approve of or get a work out in like planned... well, that's when the anxiety rears its ugly head.

In reality, I know we have absolutely no control of anything around us.  We CAN try and we may even win some of the battles.... but the mission is futile, the war WILL wage on.  Eventually, we all succumb to the exhaustion ... which is right where I've found myself.  I've motivated myself right out of motivation. When I could (and should) be happy with progress I am focusing on perfection and that has got to change.

If anxiety is the result of a deep sense of fear and fear is driven by perceived loss, we can easily tie the idea of that loss to an expectation.   It seems in order to squash the anxiety I need to figure out how to squash my expectations. 

The bad news for me is that there is no clear action I can take to change the infertility situation. I can only fumble through on instinct and work to manage my thoughts and perspective. Win, lose or draw; it's all up to me.  Part of me is content and proud of what I have been able to accomplish so far... excited to see all that will come ahead... kids or no kids.  There is another part of me that simply fears reaching the day when this really isn't an option anymore and having regrets. I've been operating from the vision of that future day... not the one I am currently living. And this too can apply to so many things.. not just infertiilty. 

It is critical (and I struggle with this one a lot) to keep HOPE carefully tempered by the acceptance of what is.  Make peace with the present, as well as the things that cannot be changed within it. How can we know any ounce of true happiness until we learn how to accept life's defeats with a grateful heart. 

It's one thing to hear someone say it and know that it's truth, it's another to feel it in your bones. When you know in your soul that even though you wish for better days ahead, this day is just as beautiful simply because it is NOW.  This very second is all we have. We may not have the power to change anything around us, we do posess the power to control our own perspective.... to feel the anger and frustration and turn it into gratitude. Failure IS how we learn. 

The way I see it, I have only one choice.. find the lesson and apply it to my life in broad strokes.

All these years I have been trying to figure out what it is to truly "let go."  Maybe I've been looking at it all wrong.  Maybe it's not that we let go, but that we learn to hang on to the right things. Maybe it just so happens that the right things are lighter than the burdens and biterness, making them that much easier to carry and to keep moving forward. And because we can only hold on to so many things at once, the negative loses it's signifigance as we focus on the good stuff along the way.  This doesn't mean pretending we have never been broken.  Broken seems to be a fact of life. The difference seems to be that some hang on to the darkness and others cling to the light. We are the only ones who can control which we choose.

I have to trust that I am on the right path and at just the right pace. I will remind myself every day that I am enough and moving the salt shaker wont change the outcome of anything. I will always be a work in progress.  It's an every day mission and some days are better than others. Once we peel back some of the layers we are able to address what lies beneath with new a perspective. It is irrational to fear a future regret... I do not live in the future, only anxiety lives there. When I get to the future, I trust that I will be a different person, with a different perspective and I will know that I did the best I could with what I had.  In any situation in life.. that is all we can do.   


Don't forget to check out Stirrup Queens webpage for more blogs and info!

Stay well out there!
In love & light,

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

It's been a long year.

I haven't written in some time.... this year has been one that I haven't really been able to digest just yet.  I honestly believe I am still processing a lot of 2014... and it may be a while (if ever) before I can  make sense of it all.

My father is gone. With him went pieces of me that I didn't even know existed before I lost them.  That's the closest I can come to putting it into words.  He is gone and EVERYTHING is different.

In November of 2013 he was diagnosed with cancer and in July he passed.  While I am thankful that his suffering was not prolonged; I am still in this state of disbelief and probably text book denial.  Even though my brain knows this is the new reality, my heart has the hardest time accepting it.  Grief... never ends.

My niece; who had a very special relationship with my father will grow up without him.  To her, he will always be her "grandpy in heaven." IF S & I somehow manage to have a family, our children will simply never know him. 

Here is what the loss of a loved one and the loss of fertility have in common:  the loss of the future as you had imagined it.  It changes your reality in so many ways.

Dad always believed we'd have children.  We never talked about it ..... until one day I let my negativity take over. I spewed something out in conversation about how I'd never have a family.... and I will never forget his words or how it felt when they touched my heart. 

"You are going to have kids" he said.  Really stern and fatherly like.  It was clear that he believed it and for a second he made me believe it! He's my dad.  If HE thought so ....than it could truly be!

I still hope so much for him to be right.  I just wish that he could be here to see that day.  Pigs will fly, cows will come home and hell will probably be iced over. I would be filled with joy for an answer to our prayers; but it would certainly be bitter sweet because my children won't be able to call him Grandpy.  It seems NOTHING will ever feel pure and truly joyful ever again.

This is life.   I know that I should really be feeling thankful.  I had 33 years WITH my father and that is more than some.   I know that things could always be worse.  Perspective is useful in keeping one sane, it does not necessarily take away the pain.  We all experience loss; and grief comes over time and in a gazillion different ways.  That phone call you would have made but can't; the gift you would have bought but can not give.  With each passing event the loss becomes more and more real.  Some say it gets easier with time; I disagree.... it gets harder.

Regardless of our feelings, time marches on.  It has no concern for our comfort within it.  Frozen, numb, anxious or fearful; we really have no choice but to carry on.  The next hour, minute, second... it's all we truly have to hold onto. One minute is all it takes to change your life forever.  That is the only thing that really matters.

So why worry?  Why search for answers where there are NONE.  There is nothing I can change or fix. After 10+ years of checking it all off the list .... including what I told myself were "breaks" where I "let it all go" ..... I've just never really figured out how to do it... how to TRULY let it go. I HAVE seems impossible NOT to hope. It's that "you never know" kind of thing. Like that couple you know/heard of who got pregnant after 10 years/adopted/stopped trying. Through all of the buried anger/frustration/grief somehow I find myself imagining what it might feel like to be looking forward to meeting our very own little one. You just never know...  our own dreams just MIGHT accidentally come true. Every time I catch myself in this day dream, I know I am in trouble for I have not at all "let it go." 

I've driven myself bonkers trying to find answers. While I HAVE learned a lot of valuable things... there isn't anything I can "do" to make this a reality.  I have to put my faith in the belief that.... if there were answers; they would be clear to me. So, I said to myself......  "Self, where do we go from here? How will you ever get around this without ending up certifiably insane?"

I don't think it's as simple as letting go of the hope for a baby.  I think it's bigger than that.  I have to let go of my expectations of the future.  I have to accept each moment, each day as the blessing that it is.  I have to appreciate what I have been given without constantly wondering... "when will it be my turn?"  I thought that it would get easier as I got older.... and once again... I thought wrong.

So, this year I will work a little harder at acceptance and gratitude.  Wish me luck!

Don't forget to check out Stirrup Queens webpage for more blogs and info!


Monday, November 18, 2013

Biological Clock..... BUSTED!

It's amazing really.  The amount of time you can spend thinking about something and still miss one very important angle. Once you discover it though, it's like a key that turns a lock within your mind. Realizations come in the most unexpected places and at the most unexpected times.

I had an epiphany the other day.  It came to me in my newsfeed on Facebook and I am seriously thankful to the friend that posted it for me to stumble upon.

Survey Reveals the "Ideal Age" for Women to Have Children - And It's Total Nonsense by Monica Bielanko

The writer addresses an important piece of this puzzle;  a generalized and accepted belief that there is an "ideal age" for women to become mothers.

We are anchored in our belief systems. Some of these we accepted without considering any other perspective, and until we sit down to reflect... we have no idea how limiting they can  be. I guess you really do have to be careful about what you buy into in life.

Way back when... in the very beginning; when I excitedly purchased pregnancy tests and baby name books. I gathered all the information I could on the subject. It was then I read the ideal age for a woman to conceive and bear children was her early 20's and the doctor's agreed.

Biological Clock - Vivienne Strauss

I was somewhere between 21 and 22 at the time.  I accepted this as fact.  I set my biological clock against the statistic.  I used it as my baseline when judging the likelihood of conception; and it was my guideline when I weighed how much hope would be acceptable at certain times.

As I get further away from that age; I tell myself my chances are just getting slimmer with every day that passes.

I hang on two key points;
  • You are at least 9 years from your fertile prime.
  • There is no way it's going to happen NOW if it didn't happen THEN.
That little voice.  It starts off with innocent hope and gets slammed with statistical reason.

Would it be a coincidence that this article popped up just days after my 33rd birthday?  I don't know but it sure was good timing for a change in perspective and one of the best things about life is that we can always start over.  No matter how old we are.

What if....

What if the Mr. and I waited until we were in our 30's to get married?

We could have waited. It's not like I was feeling pressure to get married BECAUSE I wanted to start having children at the ripe ol' age of 20.  I just knew that I wanted to spend my life with this person. So, I went ahead and made that commitment.  We were no where near "settled down."  We were working on getting established in our careers; we built a business and our home. We were also having a LOT of fun. Having a family, it was on the list but it wasn't actually scheduled anywhere in our master plan.  We just figured it would happen.  And then it didn't.  

In retrospect it's easier to see that the expectation of children was rooted in the fact that we had gotten  married.  Married people are supposed to have children and they aren't supposed to wait years and years to do so. People do not typically get married young, grow together and THEN have children.

Had we waited to get married until we were in our 30's; infertility wouldn't have presented itself as an issue.  It would never have hit the radar. I was lucky. I found my love at the age of 17 and I married him when I was 20.  What has dawned on me is that.... this, in and of itself does not constitute the expectation of babies to immediately follow.  We could be the couple to set a NEW "statistic."  You know, those people who got pregnant after 15 years of marriage.  Heck, maybe even 20! 

While it may still never happen... (believe me, I am not letting that possibility get away) there is no reason we should accept that our days are labeled and therefore numbered. If the Mr. and I were newlyweds... we'd still be excited and hopeful.

This sounds like dangerous territory for a girl in my position I know.  But really, is there any other way to truly live? 

The fact that it hasn't happened yet has lead me closer to the conclusion that it will never happen. I am not sure that is a fair way to judge the situation.

Does the fact that something has not occurred erase all possibility that it will never happen in the future?  Or does it just mean your getting even closer to your turn?

I know I am not getting any younger but the fact of the matter is, I am not that old. I don't think that I am the only woman out there who has felt this way and it's not the first time I have reminded myself that women are having children into their 40's these days.  Thing is; that long-ago accepted belief that my prime years were behind me always prevailed over my own inner voice. 

The infamous biological clock syndrome is probably inevitable but that doesn't mean we all have to synchronize watches. Are we buying into a theory that no longer applies? We are living longer; shouldn't the "ideal age" to reproduce (if there can actually be one) rise in proportion?

In 1960 my paternal grandmother gave birth to my father at the age of 38.  Certainly, this was unconventional for the times.  I often wonder if this was by choice or circumstance. I am willing to bet that my grandmother had every reason to give up hoping for a child before she had one.  I wonder if she ever did and I really wish that she were here today....I could ask her.

Either way, I am pretty sure everything happened as it was supposed to.  Not one day too late; not one day too soon.

After reading this article I wanted to find this woman and squeeze her in the biggest bear hug for writing this and for sharing it.  It has sparked within me a new will to start over. Letting go of the past allows me to start out on a new path. I have no control over the outcome and I am not afraid.  I will ground myself in all the love that surrounds me and know that it is enough.

I really hope that more women feel empowered to set their biological clock to their own pace and are relieved of the constant ticking.

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