Sunday, October 26, 2014

Requiem Re-cap

Yesterday we had this event...

I can't believe it's all over and done with! All the months of planning and advertising culminated yesterday in a beautiful Mass. You know that feeling when you have done the will of God or a task He has put before you and it's over and you just feel like our Heavenly Father is pleased with you? Yeah, I am in that feeling right now. I know it's not through any awesomeness on my part, it's through God's Awesomesness that it all was done. Whoever needed to be there came and hopefully those who did need it and were not able to come will find healing. 

I had picked out the readings with Fr. P, our pastor, who was all set to do the Mass. We set up the courtyard and meeting room for some refreshments afterward and the choir had all the songs picked out. Then as I was in the sacristy about half an hour before Mass Fr. L in formed me that Fr. P was ill and couldn't do the Mass. Enter small, ok big internal freak out on my part! Fr. L said he would be doing the Mass, Fr. L is a newly ordained priest so I felt bad for him to take on this heavy subject on a moments notice.  Fr. L wanted to use incense which made me very happy because JJ and I really love incense at Mass.

 I showed him the gospel so he could prepare a homily and internally prayed that the Holy Spirit would guide him. Oh boy did the Holy Spirit answer my prayer! Fr. L's homily could not have been more perfect! He addressed the very real pain of child loss along with the gratitude for that life and hope in Christ. I think that the families there, including us, benefited greatly from Fr. L's approach. The choir sounded so beautiful and the lector did an excellent job. The Mass was overall done at a slower more reflective pace. 

It was hard for me to focus though because I was one of the main organizers. There were times where I got choked up but I didn't allow myself to go there because I knew I would lose it and not be able to do what needed to be done after the Mass. I didn't really get to reflect until later that evening after the clean up and hanging out. When we got home and sat down I let the tears flow; the tears of mourning, healing and gratitude. I felt like we finally honored Cecilia properly, in the context of Holy Mass. I did it for her and all those little ones who often get forgotten. My mother as well as JJ's mom was there, they have both had a miscarriage. There were people there who I didn't even know had miscarriages and I see them at Mass regularly. 

I am so glad we did this and I hope we can do this annually to remember Cecilia and all of those children. There was so much guilt and pain I had been carrying from not being able to have a burial place for Cecilia and I felt like God healed that part of my heart yesterday. I felt my motherhood more than I had ever felt before and for that I am truly grateful. Blessed be the name of The Lord! 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Long Term Infertility

As JJ and I are approaching 7 years of marriage in December we will be going on 6 years of infertility. I never thought we would reach this milestone, I really thought this would be over by now. I know that no matter how long you go through infertility it is awful. I feel like I am in the oddest position since we have conceived before but we are technically still in the primary infertility category. As time goes by the feeling of disappointment is less and the confusion of "why not us" grows. I expect Aunt Flow to show up although I welcome her to take a vacation away from me anytime ;) 

As people get their ticket off of this island and they have been waiting for a year or much longer than that, the realization of being here is much more prevalent. There are less people to commiserate with about the woes of being infertile but at the same time you are glad that the island is getting less populated. I definitely feel like I have reached a "veteran" status so to speak as I help couples who are in the beginning stages of their journey through NaPro or meeting them through the events that I plan for couples dealing with infertility/miscarriage. 

I feel like I need to show couples who are in their first few years of infertility that YOU will survive and it will NOT always consume you, even if you never have any children. Your thoughts won't always be on having children, your life won't be run by a chart and you will be able to peacefully be around pregnant women. Yes, you will have your moments of sadness and jealousy but you will bounce back from them much quicker than you used to. You will find a way to live in God's will even though it may not be exactly what you thought it would be. You will learn to love your life just as it is, living in the present and not just on the future that you hope for. You will become a stronger more compassionate person if you are open to growing and you will not always feel jealous or bitter. You will be happy!  

I have been reflecting lately on the things I love about my life that I get to do because we are not parenting yet and we are no longer on the medical train. For example I started running after some motivation I got from Donna. If we were doing medical treatment our Dr. would caution me from starting to run because it could throw off my cycle. We recently started drinking raw milk and having more raw dairy products. Again if you are starting this while TTC and taking meds you would have to be more cautious about it. The thoughts of "what if I'm pregnant" don't come up as often before my period starts, formerly known as the 2ww. My schedule for seeing clients is more open and flexible without worrying about childcare. 

I feel like we are at a peaceful yet painful place. Peaceful because it is a gift given to me by the Holy Spirit. Painful because my body is still broken in some way and I can not give JJ the children we desire. It is such an odd feeling to know you don't have the control over the transmission of human life, God does. He is creator and I am His creature, nothing more but nothing less. Infertility is not my story, it's just a part of my story.  As the years go by without conceiving our chances of having biological children become less so we are navigating what our life is going to look like. We are learning to love our life in the now and not what could be. I hope I can grow in grace with each infertile passing year. If I ever do get off this island I want to be able to look back and say I spent my time wisely living in God's will. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

What Can You Do? Some Practical Advice

As a follow up to my last post I thought I would give some practical advice to non-infertile women on how they can help their infertile friends/family through those awkward group settings where everyone is talking or complaining about child rearing. Sometimes our fertile friends notice that we are uncomfortable but have no idea what to do. So here is some helpful advice! If you have any suggestions on what you've done or what your friends have done for you please put them in the com box :) 

Be Present

I know this sounds like a given but often times we are not very present to each other. Know your audience. If you know someone at that party, women's group or gathering is living with infertility or recently experienced the death of their unborn child be aware of what you are saying. Think before you speak, especially if you are going to vent about pregnancy or child rearing. It's not to say you should not be able to share your struggles but if you are in a group setting and you know the other women will jump on the venting band wagon perhaps that comment or venting should be kept best for the mom's group you go to. If we are really present in our conversations we are aware of what we and others are saying and be cognizant of how others are reacting to the conversation. 

Redirect the Conversation

If you notice the conversation is all about child rearing or venting about said subject try and redirect the discussion. Tact is needed for this because you don't just want to shout "be quiet y'all so and so is uncomfortable." That would be super embarrassing for the infertile and the redirector! Maybe changing the subject when it would be appropriate for you to add something. Talking about the seasons or favorite recipes you have been making or crafts you have been working on or the show you are binge watching at the moment or the good deals you've found on women's clothing are great subjects all women can relate to. 

This is not to say children should not be discussed at all, of course they will be talked about because you have children! I appreciate my friends sharing the realities of raising children because I don't want to idolize parenthood and look at it through rose colored glasses but I prefer that sharing to be one on one so we can both share our struggles. If I am the only one not raising children in the conversation all about child rearing/pregnancy then I feel like I am wearing a scarlet "I" and infertility feels really isolating. 

Seek Them Out

If you were not successful at changing the subject and you know your friend was uncomfortable then seek them out some time during or after the gathering. Ask them how they are doing, how's work or their ministry. Infertile women often feel ignored by their peers so making that effort to acknowledge someone can be very affirming. If you know them well enough you can ask how their treatment or adoption/foster care is going. If you don't know them that well then stick to the basic subjects of common interest. Let them know you are praying for them and if they have any prayer requests then to let you know. 

So that's my advice from an infertile woman's perspective. What I have to remember is that most often when I am in a group of married women is that most if not all of them will have children. I feel so awkward trying to contribute to the conversation if it's all about child rearing because I am not raising any children, although I know a lot about child development, it's OK if I have nothing to say. Even though we are living out our vocations differently at the moment I find great comfort in relating to my women friends whether they are married or single. I love when we can all build each other up even if we can't relate exactly to what each other is going through. So as we are going into the various holidays soon hopefully there will be more fellowship and fun rather than awkward isolating moments.