The next in my series of Mothers After Infertility is Melissa Ford: a very accomplished writer and blogger. If you visit her blog (Stirrup Queens) you’ll find a lot of information on infertility. You’ll also find her blogroll of the infertility bloggers “which proves she really missed her calling as a personal organiser”. She also does roundups every Friday of some of the best infertility blogger’s writings.
I’m grateful to her because I found support through many of the infertility bloggers on her site. She used to run this event once a month (called ICLW: you came as an “I” but left as a “we”) where you would comment on five other blogs per day. I think it got me into a good habit of commenting on other blogs, but it also encouraged me in the tough times to have others going through the same thing commenting on mine.
I mentioned she is a writer. She has written a book about infertility (Navigating the Land of IF) as well as three works of fiction. I have read the first two fiction books (Life from Scratch and Measure of Love). I really enjoyed these books, particularly the second one. I like the way she shows depth of character and how our own perceptions cloud reality. It’s also nice to read a book where the protagonist is actually a blogger!
You might not know this, but Melissa is actually one of the reasons I started SA Mom Blogs. I was thinking.. if she can start a blogroll for infertility bloggers, why can’t I do it for South African mom bloggers? If she can do a roundup, what’s stopping me? But most of all I think I’m inspired by the quality of her writing: she makes me want to be a better writer.
Before I get to the questions, I’d like to share with you two posts that illustrate how she uses words to convey both the angst of infertility and also how she shares her journey with her children.
The first post is Happy Needle Day To Me where she documents the pain (both physical and emotional) of her hcG injection.
I think we all can admit that there are many other painful things that we don’t fear like we do needles–needles seem to hold a special status on the fear hierarchy. But it isn’t the needles themselves. The pain is instantaneous. It’s the psychological effects–the why you’re holding a needle in the first place–that keep slamming into you long after the bruises are gone.
The other post is about Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day where she explains to her twins (conceived through IUI) that there were other babies that didn’t make it into their family.
“Sometimes,” I said, putting on my lightest voice so that I didn’t do grave psychological damage to her two-year-old mind, “babies aren’t born. You know how you came out of Mommy’s tummy? Well, sometimes there are kids who don’t come out of the tummy.”
“Shabbat!” she called out again.
“And…” I said, turning towards my husband and realizing as he sat there staring at me that I was probably going to be the one doing the sex talk down the line, “we’re lighting this candle for those babies. And giving them a voice. What do you think the babies would say if they were born?”
“Waaaah,” my daughter informed me.
I looked at my son who nodded seriously. “Waaaah.”
“Well, there are Mommies and Daddies who miss hearing their baby cry. And they wish their baby was here like you are so that their baby could cry.”
“I say, ‘don’t cry babies!’,” my daughter told me. “Don’t cry Mommies. Don’t cry Daddies.”
“Sometimes Mommies and Daddies need to cry,” my husband reminded her. “It’s okay if they cry.”
“Before we had you,” I told them, feeling both like this moment was not going in any direction I wanted it to go AND feeling like this was exactly what needed to happen as my daughter serenaded us with Baa Baa Black Sheep apropo of nothing, “we had other babies who weren’t born, so we’re going to light this candle for them. And for all the other babies in this world who weren’t born. So we’re lighting this candle for Zoe. And for the babies who we never named but were lost in the months of November, February, and March. And for the blighted ovum who was supposed to be your triplet.”
And that’s when I felt my voice started to break. I’m so grateful that we have these children. And I’m grateful that they act like two-year-olds. And I’m grateful that they have each other. But how can you not miss the kids who could have been when you see what was in front of you?
I’m glad there is this day on the calendar that forces you to remember. Because sometimes, we get so goal focused that we forget the people we passed on the path. And I loved remembering them tonight–not the sad moments when everything was over, but the heart-racing excitement I felt when I thought something was finally starting.
Well, let’s get onto her answers to my questions:
About Me: Tell us some background about yourself, if you work, and what your interests and passions are.
I work as a writer, so it follows that I spend a lot of time with books. And I love books, I love reading, but if you were to give me an empty hour to fill, I would play video games and interactive fiction. Actually, reverse that: I would play interactive fiction first and old video games second.
About Us: How did you meet your partner? Give us the love story.
We have a very long, very convoluted how-we-met story, so I’ll reduce it to its understandable core: a cousin introduced us. No one knew the longer version of the story until our wedding. We individually called a few people to tell them the day before, and then we told the rest of our friends and family at the rehearsal dinner. So that was fun.
About Infertility: Tell us your infertility (or loss) story. It can be as brief or as long as you feel comfortable sharing.
My infertility was a surprise; I always thought it would be so easy to get pregnant that I had taken careful measures not to get pregnant prior to trying to conceive. Turned out that wasn’t necessary. Our problem, actually, was staying pregnant more than it was getting pregnant. But still.
About My Family: Tell us about your family and about your child(ren).
The family in my house consists of Josh and the twins and our guinea pig, Truman, who is squeaking at me for an alfalfa cookie while I write this. But I am very close to my parents and siblings and their partners and kids. I love that our smaller family unit and the larger family unit fits together seamlessly.
How has infertility affected your parenting?
It’s hard to say because I never parented without infertility, but I think it made me more fearful. More anxious. I’ve always been an anxious person, so perhaps I would have been this anxious regardless. But I am very cognizant of how quickly life moves, and I want to enjoy every single second with the twins.
How do you find it affecting your life, even now?
I volunteer more. I find any excuse to do activities with the twins, and many times that means volunteering to lead the activity for everyone. I bring the twins to everything and include them in everything in my life, which means that they’ve gotten to have a lot of cool, “grown-up” experiences or travel experiences, and I’ve gotten to build those memories with them.
My Advice: What is your advice for those still in the trenches of infertility, or for those trying again?
Feel whatever your heart tells you that you need to feel. I think we’re too keen to brush aside certain emotions or try to get through sadness quickly and return to happiness. No one wants to be sad, but sometimes you need to let yourself be sad for a bit so you can put closure on that feeling properly and move with peace back to happiness.
Would you like to participate in my series? Email firstname.lastname@example.org