Before I get to today’s post, I want to ask you a favour. Can you please pop over to Shannon’s blog at Infertility Awakening and give her some support? She lost her adopted five month old daughter due to the birth dad pitching up out of the blue. I can never imagine what she is going through right now.
I met Shannon when we both participated in a Circle Bloom writing competition. . She wrote a brilliant piece (which unfortunately I can’t find now, but will fill it in at a later date when I can!) but it really was about not giving up when everything was against you. She is an inspiration to me and she is an excellent writer. I really am thinking a lot about her at the moment.
She was on my mind when I wrote this post: all about how you can, at any moment, lose your gift of a child. I had a big fright when Nicky fell in the pool, it kind of brought everything into a sharp focus and scared me tremendously. You can read the post here.
As you can see I wrote this guest post at Ladyblogger’s blog. Her name is Bonnie and she’s a former elementary/middle school teacher and college professor with a Master’s Degree in Education and loads of teaching experience. She’s also the mom of two teenage boys and wife to a man she’s been with for over 30 years.
What I liked about Bonnie is that she even helped me edit the piece! I guess all that education of hers is a bonus for me to dig deep and pull out those emotions and deal with them.
Here’s that link again: Click here.
(Since that blog seems to have disappeared, I will place the post here)
After years of believing I would never have a child it has been a rather surreal experience to be able to reach out and hold a real, living boy that I can call my own. Although being grateful for having a happy ending to my infertility experience, it does not make me forget those times, and it has definitely left its imprint on me.
“Precious Babies” was the title of Kate Walsh’s book about parenting after infertility, but it really seems to sum up the idea of how valuable these children are. They were long fought for and it just makes us appreciate them so much more. I kiss Nicky’s little feet and tell him I love him often. I hold him close. I appreciate him.
Of course the downside of this is when parental guilt hits, it hits hard. Every time Nicky falls off the bed my heart breaks (although this is happening a lot less).
The other downside is that having this gift makes you wonder: when is the other shoe going to drop? Am I going to lose this kid that I nearly didn’t have? The worst case scenarios haunt me.
An example of how this played out the other day was when I was lifting leaves from the pool with a net while Nicky crawled around the pool. I was watching him carefully, telling myself I was right there, he would be okay. Then came the moment that he crawled over a difficult section and, as if in slow motion, he fell into the water.
Time stood still.
I felt myself releasing the leaf catcher and swimming over to where his body was bobbing on the surface of the water. I was so thankful for that Polly Otter suit that kept him afloat and facing upwards. I held my precious boy close as he cried. I cried with him. We both had such a fright. We were still in the deep end and I was treading water, so I went to the shallow end.
We sat on the step in the shallow end, catching our breath. It felt good to have a solid surface underneath my feet and my baby boy still alive and breathing next to me. But I felt shocked to my core. How could I let this happen? A boy whose very existence was a miracle in itself, and I let him crawl so close to danger. How could I be so careless with my gift from God? The guilt, the worst case scenarios, the sheer weight of it all was too much and I had to leave the pool with the object of all my worries tightly clutched to my chest.
As I nursed him inside I told him softly “No more crawling at the edge of the pool Nicky. I don’t want to lose you.” He blinked in acknowledgement and I’d like to think he understood what I was saying. (He is nineteen months now).
With infertility, it seems like you are never really rid of the worry. Because of all the negative results, the disappointments and the stress, it takes its toll on you. You get used to there always being a downside.
So how does one turn this around? How do you take a seemly negative situation and appreciate the joy again? Sometimes I do actually get irritated with people who tend to focus on the negative, as if infertility is this cloud they can never shake.
Don’t get me wrong, there is trauma in infertility. And the negative emotions DO need to be acknowledged. The way infertility is dragged out through the years, an unending torture, until at last you may (or may not) reach your goal.
The real courage, though, comes in facing your fears. In finding value in the journey, not just the destination. In picking yourself up, trying again.
For your own salvation, you have to hold onto something uplifting. One positive thing that will keep you going. For me it was my dogs and the joy they still share with our family. In this swimming situation it is my joy of being in the water that I want to impart to my son, instead of the fear.
And for the very brave, we try again.
This is why, two days later, on another hot day, Nicky and I were at the pool again. As we put on our swimming costumes, I reminded him: “Remember Nicky, no crawling on the edge of the pool.” He blinked at me with those expressive little eyes.
We faced our fears and swam again. This time I was closer to him. This time he avoided the section where he had fallen. We were wiser this time, but we were not allowing this bad experience to take away from the joy of playing with water. Nicky sat on the ground and splashed with his had outstretched in the water. He wasn’t going in the pool as much, (he likes to stand on the first step) but hey, we were still there. We were able to acknowledge what had gone before and use it to make better decisions about how we would swim this time.
The pain was there but there was also a measure of relief. And I was grateful too for this special soul who gurgled and splashed happily.
My little one has certainly been a part of my healing from infertility, mostly because he is such a loving little boy who has shown me the most amazing joy and laughter. He is amused by simple things and he gives me a zest for life. But most of all I believe he is able to forgive my mistakes, especially when I take the time to hold him close and talk to him about it. He makes me want to be a better mom.