Some days are cantaloupe, and some days are chocolate cake….

Some days are grilled chicken and veggies, and some days are fully loaded fries.Some days are 3 mile runs, and some days are laying under the covers watching movies.Some days are cantaloupe, and some days are chocolate cake. Some days are matching purses, and shoes, and some days are sweat pants and T-shirts. 
And for me, today, it is all of those things in one. Yes, fully loaded fries, movies, chocolate cake, and pj’s. Guess what I know now? It’s completely ok! It’s ok, to have those days, days where you just can’t, and the most empowering thing I have learned, is that I don’t have to feel guilty for those days. Because those days will come, they come for all of us, maybe for different reasons, but we are only human, and we need to stop feeling so bad, for being human, for being weak, for needing a Savior! 
Because in the reality of what is another Mother’s Day with empty arms, with 3 babies who I will never know this side of heaven, it sucks! I know my honesty sometimes freaks people out, but who are we really hurting to pretend things are so perfect, really only ourselves ultimately. Because while I know I am so blessed to have my mother, still here with me, while many don’t, it doesn’t lessen the ache in this mother’s heart. Having my own mother here, and in my life, it doesn’t make it ok, that all my babies are gone, it doesn’t make it ok, not at all, not even one bit.

So I will not beat myself up for feeling a knife in my heart, when the cashier at the grocery store wished me a Happy Mother’s Day(when I was buying my chocolate cake), or for feeling so unworthy to be called a mother, when friends and family tried to make Mother’s Day something special for me by giving me gifts, and sweet wishes. Instead, I will allow myself to feel all of these feelings, and spend the day trying to take care of me, even if that means, pj’s and emotional eating. Next year, it might be better, it might not, and that’s ok, because I am going to make it through, no matter what that means. Because tomorrow, might not be one of those days, it might be a great day, full of healthy choices, and joy and peace. Whatever it is, I am learning to take it moment by moment, and to remind myself that whatever I feel, it’s ok to feel that way.

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From an Infertile Teacher’s Heart….

Today as I painted your little one’s toes, to make a Mother’s Day project, as I explained to each child what we were doing, my heart was heavy.  “We are making something for you to give to your mommy, for Mother’s Day.” I told them.”What’s Mother’s Day?”, that was the question that most of them asked. I tried to explain the best I could, that it’s a special day just for moms, and you need to do something special for them. These are the moments that take my breath away, that cause my heart to ache for something that may never be. So, please know while they are so very special to me, they are yours, not mine, while they forever hold a special place in my heart, it’s just not the same. You see you are their Mother, and what a gift that is.

I had someone say to me only days after one of my miscarriages, “Well at least you have the kids in your class, they are your babies.” Let me just reiterate, IT IS NOT THE SAME.Yes, I refer to them as my kids and, I love each one of them. I wipe their noses, and bandage their boo boos. I listen to them when they tell me a funny story, or something that upsets them. I make sure they eat their food, and wipe their faces and hands. I try to teach them so they can succeed. I tie their shoes and fix their hair. I cover them with their blanket, and wish them sweet dreams at nap. Some of the very same things that you do as their mother, but let’s face it, I don’t do it as good as you can, because you are their Mom!

 
While I hope that each of these things I do as their teacher, is special and meaningful to each one of them, it is not the same as when Mommy does it. Because as you know, Mommy’s love for them is beyond what words can describe. Mommies can kiss away their boo boos, I can only bandage them. They are happy when I listen to them, but when Mommy listens, oh, it’s even better. What I wouldn’t give, for this chance, the chance to actually physically mother my child. I am a mother, I am an invisible mother, my babies are not here with me. I have known what it is to have a life growing inside, to fall in love the moment you get that positive pregnancy test, to be completely smitten when you see their heartbeat. Because of this, I will forever be a Mother, and no time or distance can ever change that. I just have not had the blessing to bring my babies home from the hospital. Being an invisible mother is not an easy thing. Because I have experienced what it is to carry life, I know how great your love is for your little ones. I also know what it is to go cycle after cycle praying for that one to be the one. Taking a pregnancy test, dropping to your knees in tears when it’s negative, again, pulling it out of the trash to make sure you weren’t mistaken. Going through the monthly devastation, and grieving process, when your dream is yet again, not going to be a reality. Avoiding baby showers, baby departments, children’s birthday parties, because sometimes it just hurts too much to have these reminders. Most days for this teacher’s heart, your little ones are a healing balm to my soul, they bring me laughter, and joy, and honestly a lot of fulfillment. Then there are days like today, that it just hurts, but I wouldn’t trade it in, just like you wouldn’t either!

 
I am so blessed for the role I can play in the lives of your babies. I am also so happy you are blessed with the opportunity to watch your little ones grow. So, hold them closer, listen when they talk. Get all the hugs you can. When you are frustrated, and tired, remember what a blessing they are. Remember that 1 in 8 couples are aching for that chance, the chance to calm a crying child, to kiss those boo boos, to be exhausted from lack of sleep due to being up all night with a fussy baby, or a feverish child. Maybe even say a little prayer for the aching hearts of those 1 in 8 couples.
Signed,
An Infertile Teacher

(Mary Ann)

There are times when silence has the loudest voice.

There are times when silence has the loudest voice….Leroy Brownlow

I am pretty sure this can be interpreted a couple of different ways, and in my experience I have been on both sides of this. I have been the one who coped by using silence while dealing with my infertility and pregnancy losses, but in my silence and isolation, my heart was crying out. Though I stayed quiet, inside I was shouting about how unfair this all is, and what a sucky hand to be dealt, while on the outside to everyone, maybe I just appeared strong, which is what so many have said to me. This is a coping mechanism, and nothing is wrong with this, we have to deal the best we can, however that may be.

“You are so strong”, “I could never deal with this”, “I don’t know how you do it”, are just a few of the words that have been said to me about my struggle with infertility and pregnancy loss. 7 years into this infertility journey, I am strong, I am dealing with this, and sometimes, I don’t know how I do it. It took 5 years, and a multitude of tests and treatments, and a diagnosis of unexplained infertility, and at least 80 negative pregnancy tests, until we had our first IUI and to our amazement it worked, we got our positive, our first ever. We were going along fine, and as we had our 7 week sonogram, we were told that our baby only appeared to be 6 weeks, that we should prepare to miscarry, but I could see the heartbeat so strong. I am still not sure how you prepare for such a heartache, there was no amount of preparation that would help me deal with this loss. At 8 weeks and 3 days, we lost our baby. I was so devastated, I couldn’t even consider doing anymore procedures, I needed time to heal emotionally. I took a year to get myself healthy, both physically and mentally. We then went in for our 2nd IUI, which failed, followed by our 3rd IUI which also failed, our 4th IUI was successful, but ended in an early miscarriage, and our 5th IUI also resulted in a positive, but sadly ended in a miscarriage. As I think about all of the tests, the medications, the procedures, and 3 losses, sometimes, I can’t believe this is real.This is my life, this is the life of an infertile woman. We are now in limbo, as I wait to go for further testing to see if we can find a cause to the recurring miscarriages. No more procedures, until we can figure out the problem. This is the physical part of the details, but the emotional part is just as difficult, if not more.

You see, dealing with all of this is hard, it does sap every ounce of strength from you. Having a good support system can mean the world. I have an amazing husband, and family, and friends, but let’s face it no one knows what to do or say, if they haven’t been through this. This is where being on the other side of that all too deafening silence hurts. It has hurt me deeply. To be greeted with silence, or just avoided all together, it is very isolating. When I found out the news of each of my pregnancies, it was a joyous occasion, celebrated by so many. I was asked each day, how things were progressing, given gifts, and was the recipient of so many well wishes and love. Then as I experienced each of my losses, what I got was mostly silence, or avoidance. Please, I get it, it’s uncomfortable, it’s sad, no one wants to acknowledge that bad things just happen. But, being on the receiving end of that is terribly heartbreaking. It is the elephant in the room, crushing the life out of me. I would like to believe we have progressed enough as a society that this is no longer a taboo subject, but in so many ways it still is. Taboo means improper or unacceptable, and I agree, it is totally unacceptable for a woman to struggle to become pregnant, when it is the most natural part of being a woman, her God given ability to carry a life. It is also unacceptable for a Mother to have her baby die, at any stage of gestation but it is certainly not a subject that is improper to speak about. There are many things that have been said to me over the years, some of them hurt, but I know most of them were intended to show concern. But, one of the most hurtful things that has ever been said to me, is…NOTHING AT ALL.

Martin Luther King, Jr. , said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

I am going to #StartAsking that you please don’t stay silent to avoid saying the wrong thing, there really is no right thing to say.

Thanks for listening,
Mary Ann

#StartAsking #NIAW @resolveorg

First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage, Then Comes the Baby in the baby carriage …or not?

We fell in love and we were getting married, and since we found each other later in life, we decided to try to start a family right away. I was turning 33, and the thought of being much older than that and starting a family was scary. Now at the age of 40, I just shake my head at the silly innocence and ignorance of that naive woman. You see, very rarely does life ever go as planned, as we all know. Little did I know I was about to be taking a trip, a journey that would change me forever.
A journey is traveling from one place to another, it has been 7 years into this trip, and as much as I enjoy road trips, this one sucks, it makes me car sick, and being confined in this little space for so long, is making me claustrophobic, I wonder will we ever reach our destination? I can remember being super excited to be going on a road trip to North Carolina when I was a child, we had only gone about 20 miles, and had a flat tire. I can recall these little travel hiccups though the years on different trips, my mom getting sick, and needing to stop, and the only place to stay was a flea bag hotel. Going to the beach and bringing along an inflatable mattress, that leaked all the air out, and getting the bright idea to put it in the van and fill it up at a gas station, and try and figure out how to get it back to the hotel. Things that now, looking back, make us laugh. None of these were planned, foreseen bumps along the road. The thing was, we still ended up getting to our destination, maybe the trip was prolonged, off schedule, not as planned. These bumps had us stopping in places we wouldn’t have, seeing silly side of the road attractions, still enjoying our trip and making memories, regardless of the rough spots. 
In the infertility and pregnancy loss community, this unwanted and unchosen path, is often referred to as a journey. This trip, of infertility and loss, is a trip that I have not wanted to be on, neither have any of the other 1 in 8 couples who are diagnosed with infertility, or the 1 in 4 who have experienced pregnancy loss.Those trips, those are the ones that fill us with dread. The trip, or journey one goes on to a hopeful healing from cancer, a journey through job loss to employment , a devastating divorce. The connecting factor in my opinion is the grief that coincides with these journeys. These journey’s, the ones we are on, unwillingly, and certainly not happy about, they are the ones that challenge us along the way, to see the good things, when they are so hard to see. To visit the world’s largest frying pan, to go in the ice cream shop and try that cappuccino crunch ice cream, while you are waiting on the flat to be changed. To put on a pair of running shoes and learn to run, or learn to dance, ride a motorcycle for the first time(and find out you really love it) try something that makes you smile, even when your heart aches so deeply, to live even when it hurts so bad. Will we reach the destination we have planned or hoped for? Maybe, maybe not, but I sure hope we can learn to live, and try our best to enjoy the scenic route we have found ourselves on. Let’s face it some days, we just need to stop at the rest stop and grab a soda, and take a break, and that’s ok, as long as we keep on going after we have stopped to care for ourselves. The arrival at our destination may not end up being the one we were hoping for, but I sure hope we did our best to make the most of it, and hopefully one day look back on it, and maybe even find something that causes us to smile because of it, hopefully we make memories that are not all bad ones on this trip. 

Thanks for being on this journey with me,

Mary Ann

Balancing Hope and The Ugliness of Reality

What do you choose not to be?….my reply, “I choose not to be hopeless, being hopeful feels so much better.” This was a comment I made, to the above question, one day on my Reproductive Endo’s Facebook Page, a few months ago. The irony that they made it into a meme and posted it on their page just a day after my 3rd miscarriage was not lost on me. You see these things happen everyday, in more moments than I could even explain. 7 years into this process, several tests, several procedures, and now 3 losses, I am a different person than I was only 6 months into this. What is next for me? What am I planning to do now? Will we try again? Will we adopt? Well this is where I am right now, one thing is certain, I am taking it moment, by moment, this balancing act between hope and reality.
Hope is defined as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. The balancing act I have found myself in, is one that is quite delicate, and honestly very messy. There are moments where I feel full of hope, that without a doubt what I expect and desire to happen will surely occur. Then there are the moments where I am on the opposite end of hope, and I walk in hopelessness. I have times where I allow myself to dream of planning that nursery, and using the onesies hanging in my closet, those are wonderful hope-filled moments, where I allow myself to dream.Then there are the moments when it hits me that I may never be able to have a child, never make my husband a father, never give my nieces any cousins, that is the hopelessness of reality. In my hopeful moments, I am okay with other people’s hope, and false promises of a happy ending, but in those hopeless moments, I don’t want words of encouragement, or false hope. Let’s be honest and face the truth, no one knows what the future will hold. No one can say for certain that I will ever hold my own child in my arms, and that is where I find myself currently, do I allow myself to hold out hope for something that may never happen, or do I let go. Sometimes I feel it would be easier to let go, and move on, and accept my life childless,and then that ache cripples me to my soul, and I think, I surely won’t survive without mothering a child I hold in my arms here on earth. But, that’s just it, I am surviving, maybe barely hanging on, somedays, but other days, I kick butt! Those days help to balance out the bad days, sometimes that’s enough, other times, not so much.
While I know that hoping to mother a child this side of heaven, is my desire, we are all hoping for or desiring something. Maybe someone to fall in love with, a better job, healing for someone ill, a rebellious child, a financial breakthrough, yes these are all extremely different, but the one thing they have in common are the hearts that hold onto these hopes, and the hearts that ache deeply due to life’s messiness.We are all human, and feel pain and joy, we need to stop comparing our hurts to one another. Maybe we can encourage one another, when needed, and keep our mouths shut, and just be there, in the moments when that is all that is needed. (Now my next step is working on letting others know when I need those hope-filled words, and when I just need a listening ear)

Mary Ann (a little hopeful today)