Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Less Than

Well, I hit a wall. I thought I was doing so well with everything, really moving forward. And I did something stupid. I put myself into multiple situations, one after the other, that tested my new-found strength and I've just been raw since. This weekend ended up being too much for me, and it didn't hit me until Sunday evening when I started crying uncontrollably for about an hour. I was fine throughout the weekend, kept my game face on, and really thought my defenses were working well. And then Sunday evening came and I just couldn't hold it together anymore. Let me preface this by saying, I put myself in all of these situations willingly. No one hurt me, or set out to hurt me, in any way. I just have to know my limits. And I have a lot of feelings to reconcile, and that is my journey. That said....

I asked a best friend to go with me to register at two stores. She has had multiple children, and I just knew she would be able to guide me in my selections. And I was right! It was awesome having her there! We went to Target and she decided to register, also, as she is pregnant right now. I was actually really excited. And, honestly, it was fun! I have always dreamed of registering with a friend, being pregnant with a friend. We giggled as we both scanned the same things. If only we had a camera to document this unique time in our lives! It truly was a fun experience. (I'll explain where my emotions went south after I describe the next two instances.)

I then went that night to a couples' home who just had a baby, their third. They are new friends of ours, and Jason really wanted to go. He and the husband work together and are very close. Now, this was the first time I have faced a newborn "head on" in a very long time. I even bought a cute gift that day, packaged it up, bought a card, and gave it to them! All things I have not been able to do in years (I always ask someone else to buy and give the gifts). I held this gorgeous 6-day old infant all night and did not cry (openly) once! I smiled and congratulated them and didn't wish them pain (you know, the kind I've had to experience)....I'm growing here, people!! (Again, I'll explain where it all went wrong soon....)

The next day I went to my niece's birthday party. I refuse to miss any of my beautiful nieces' birthday parties if I can help it. And I enjoyed it! She was happy and adorable and I can't believe she is 4! It was overall a good time. Then, I got in the car, and proceeded to cry...

...and my first words to Jason as we drove home were, "I feel like a failure." I explained, sobbing, "I can't give you that. I just can't do it." And then cried for about an hour, off and on. So, what happened you might ask? Well, let's start at the beginning - the registering. The infertile woman in me reared her ugly head, as I'm assuming she will always and forever do on occasion. What I was not letting myself feel during those moments of fun was all the pain that was also there. I noticed that my friend was able to name her registry after her baby (mine was just named "Faith and Jason's Baby Stuff"). She was also able to put a real due date, not some made-up one because the registry forces you to enter one. She avoided awkward comments at the registry counter because she looked like she was really expecting ( I won't go into the comments I got). And, lastly, she was able to pick out things with her real baby in mind. I had to pick out gender neutral things, and things that any baby would need, because I really had no idea who, what, when, where or how my baby would come to me. My baby is not real. I am not really expecting at all.

Then, I picked out a baby gift and card for another mom with a real baby. I went to her house and held her baby. I watched as her baby cried for her and ate hungrily when mommy came to the rescue. I listened as the daddy proudly talked about how strong mommy was and how she "bounced back" so easily. I saw how happy he was kissing his new baby girl - he was literally giddy with love and pride! And it occurred to me, I cannot make my husband, nor any of my family members, that happy or that proud. I cannot do what she does so easily. I just can't.

Then I went to my niece's birthday party and again saw a relaxed family, happily expecting another child. I saw them celebrate their child's day with ease. I saw from the outside what it would be like to not have life spit in your face, and kick you when you are down. I saw a glimpse of the happiness we could have had, if only our babies had lived and we hadn't experienced grief so deep, I can't even find the bottom. And, I realized, I may never be that relaxed, that carefree.

All of this made me feel like a failure, like a "less than." I am less than truly expecting, as I cannot carry a baby to term and am now "expecting" a baby who may or may not even exist yet. I am less than a perfect wife, because I cannot give my husband the joy of a biological child, of watching me give birth, of just being able to have things go smoothly and be relaxed in his home and in his life, as I saw other couples be able to do this weekend. I cannot explain the energy, but they were just more carefree, less heavy. Our losses weigh us down, and that is my fault. I just keep losing our babies. I am less than a perfect daughter or daughter-in-law because I can't give our families the biological grandchildren they have always dreamed of. I am less than a real woman because I can't even get pregnant - our most basic task in this life.

Jana Wolff writes in her book, "Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother," that she went on a shopping trip to buy baby things with her mother when she was expecting her child, by way of his first mom. About this trip, she writes, " Motherhood was becoming more real to me, not by virtue of a swelling belly, but with a growing accumulation of baby stuff. I sensed the slightest whiff of pity from our baby-store guide and wondered if these gifts represented a dream come true for me, or a dream that didn't come true. Every thought of this baby to come was also a reminder of the baby that never came."

So true. Every step in this journey holds hope and grief, and I've been denying the grief. Mostly because I desperately want to be done with the grief. But wanting something so badly doesn't make it so. What I have to try to do is reconcile what I lost with what is to come. And, honestly, I don't think what we lost will ever leave us. I don't think we'll ever have such a carefree and "light" energy as those other couples have. Our children will not come to us easily, effortlessly. And, at least for me, I think that will always stick with me, for better or for worse. For now, I have to figure out how to be ok with being less than a real expectant mom, less than a perfect wife and less than a perfect, reproducing daughter. I also have to figure out how to fall in love with a less than real baby. I just don't know how to do all of this right now, I really don't. So, I cry...especially in the still, quiet moments....I cry.


  1. Oh my goodness, Faith. I see where these times would be a bit difficult for you. I thought things were going great, but in the back of my head, I knew these feelings would come up. I was hoping to make you feel special enough so that you would forget about the tough stuff. I guess it isn't really possible from my end. I want you to know that NOONE thinks you are a failure!! I know that is how you feel and it is a terrible feeling, but I don't want you walking around thinking that anyone feels that way about you. You are so much more than your ability to have a child. Look at all you've accomplished in life. You should be proud of all that and take notice that God has other plans for you in this case. Bad days will still come but keep in the front of your thoughts the big picture in Life. Think about what good is to come, not the things that haven't. It sounds as if you are a little overwhelmed with everything going on, take some time to relax and find a good perspective. And next time this happens, call me. You never called to say that you were hurting. That's what sisters are for....use your sister lifeline! If nothing else, I can say something extremely off the wall to get a smile from you! Hang in there, Sis, blue skies are coming! Love you, Miss you

  2. I think you did a great job. It IS hard. I did my registry for my baby and the adoption FAILED, I did another and that FAILED too, how awful is that.........we do have to suffer for something that come so EASILY for so many others........yes that makes us strong and i know it will make us appreciate every sleepless night and sick day...........


  3. Faith, I'm crying with you! This post really struck a chord with me as I am TOTALLy there with you and understand how you feel.

    That said, (not that I could take this advice myself :) don't forget that you have also faced many difficult trials (infertility and loss of babies) head on and have come out all the more stronger. So in my opinion that makes all of us in this boat to Australia MORE THAN perfect women, wives, daughters, and daughters-in-law. Sure, other woman can take on what is easy but you can also take on what is hard... and we all know what Mr. Frost had to say about that [difficult] road less travelled!

    So keep up the good work and cry when necessary, but don't forget that it shows great strength to make it the whole tough weekend you had before breaking down :) I can't say I could've done it!

    ~Jill XOXO

  4. Faith, I know your heart, and I can feel your pain, my dear friend! First of all, I am so proud of you, for the things you did over the weekend. Those are all hard things, and you had the courage to face them head on! You are healing and growing, but we will always have moments and reminders of our pain, and we will regress. Two steps forward, one step back, right? But as long as you keep taking those hard steps forward, you will continue to grow and heal. You are strong, and I know you can do it! Don't be ashamed of your tears...they are all part of the process.

    Secondly, we who cannot give our husbands biological babies are not less than other women. I have learned that we are simply different than other women! We will build our families in a different way, but the love we will have for our children will be just as strong, our children will be just as precious to us. There have been many nights where I have sobbed to my husband about all I cannot give him...and he says it does not matter, because I do give him so much!!! Of course I still feel those stabs of jealousy, and if someone could wave a magic wand over me and make me pregnant, I'd do it in an instant. But we cannot see ourselves as failures or as less than other women...we are simply different.

    Hang in there, Faith! I'm virtually holding your hand during these tough moments, but the sun will shine again!!! :)

  5. This post made me love you just THAT much more! I love your honesty in this post, Faith. And even though I am not currently in the adoption process.. I can SOOOO somehow understand everything you are saying because, in my opinion, whether you are adopting or not.. if you are infertile you teach yourself along the way that somehow infertility=failure.

    And I HATE that! I feel like a failure every single second of every single day. I feel "un-normal" and like you said.. "less than.."

    But, I really appreciated what riversnake said in her comment. That we are MORE THAN .. because we have battled and survived SOOO much more than the average woman! Its like we've all gone to Vietnam and come home with Purple Hearts! While the rest of the "normal" women sit at home and eat cake and watch t.v.

    Sure, their life may be easier.. but we have stories. And true friends. And true sympathy for others because of this. And since we have all faced our own personal torture and somehow come out (wounded yet stronger) on the other side.. we can face ANYTHING that life throws at us... where other women would just crumble and die. We can face adversity and still come out with our heads held high. And that ain't something thats just a given in life.. that's something that is earned through everything that we've been through.

    Your going to have your good days and bad days like the rest of us. And I'm sorry that you put yourself through more than you could handle.. (I do that to myself too). What is important is that you are being honest with your true feelings and that will actually benefit you and your baby and husband in the end!

    Let yourself feel. Whatever you are feeling.. and hang in there girl. I've been thinking about you lately.

    XOXO Me