Friday, January 05, 2007

Redefining me

In looking over my last post...I realized something about myself that I hadn't noticed before... …I really have been living my life since November 2005 with a sort of Scarlet M (“M” for miscarriage, of course) on my chest for the world to view instead of these “life experiences” (sounds trite, but in the end that is what they are) just becoming a small part of who I am as a whole, complete person. I have allowed my recurrent miscarriages and infertility to become my “crutch.” I didn’t want to face my “shortcomings” (at least what my mind was telling me was my “shortcomings”) for real until now, causing me not to be able to move on, or enjoy my life and the lives of those around me.

Why would I do this to myself, especially after having been in counseling for 9 months? Maybe it is just easier to wallow in your heartache than actually accept it and move on? Sure, I thought in the past I have accepted my losses…but have I really? I think I have been kidding myself up until now. Maybe the upped dosage of Lexapro is finally giving me some relief and clarity and myself insight into what I have been doing for so long? I don’t know.

This self-realization comes just as I finished reading a book called “A Sundog Moment” by Sharon Baldacci, which in short is about a woman who finds out she is suffering from MS and how her life, her relationships and her faith changes (or really, doesn’t change, only grow) because of the chronic illness.

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Finishing a book is a HUGE feat for me! I have a stack of books in our attic that are half-read, tossed to the side because “life” got to busy to finish them. That is almost what happened to this book (I started it in July 06)…except, since Dr. P wanted me to find a way to relax and the ‘hood I live in undoubtedly would not offer a Yoga class (did I mention I live in basically an inner city??), I decided to finish this book by reading one hour each night before bed all week long. It was quite the challenge to begin this new pattern – but I like the new way I am spending that time, instead of worrying about what will happen the next day.

The book was good – the ending was rather cliché, but the story as a whole was very meaningful and powerful. What I was able to really take away from it is immeasurable.

I have finally understood what it means to truly accept what life has given you, assimilate it into your being and move on to be a stronger person. Again, maybe it’s the upped Lexapro talking (amazing what an extra 5 mg can do for a person!) – but I think it is really ME this time. Toward the end of the story, the main character finally gets to see her “sundog” – not just visibly in the sky but emotionally when she becomes accepting of what this disease will bring her and that, even though her body may not cooperate with her, she is still who she was before the disease became a part of her life and she can still live, laugh and love.

I know my angel babies will always be my babies – they may not be here physically, but they are here. And, although I miss them, I am not angry anymore. I am calm, peaceful, aware they were too perfect for this world, and I will hold them someday.

And, even if our lives are not graced with another child, Chris is such a miracle and blessing for us. We have more than we could have ever asked for. Unconditional love is a powerful thing – he doesn’t care if my body has forgotten what is should be able to do. All he cares about is that he is loved, protected, secure.

Dr. P said I needed to learn to live my life only with love… The word “love” happened to be imprinted on the shirt from Old Navy I wore to our last session last week. That is all that matters when the day has ended, and I finally get it. For real.

My heart is no longer racing (or, not nearly as much or as often)…nor are my hands shaking nearly as much as they were. Food tastes like it should again. When I am driving home after work, my mind is surprised that my stomach is not spasming like I have grown accustomed to it doing around 4:00-5:00 pm every day….which means that I can eat dinner (and seconds!). I am truly enjoying my time again with Chris and Hubby and my family and friends again – something that has been interrupted for months and months on end.

I have forgotten for a long time that I am a spirit in this world – not just a person who does her work at her job, gets things ready for the next day, washes clothes, does dishes, scrubs the toilet. I am a spirit with a soul that needs nurturing – and the feed up until now has been rather out of stock. I can enjoy a book in the evening, leave the laundry for another day, miss a deadline if I need to, make mistakes in my work, play with my son and enjoy my time with my spouse. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend.

I became perfectionistic in so many aspects of my life to try to control the things I thought I could control, and block out the things I could not. And, in doing that, I piled so much stress on top of myself. Turning it off become hard or nearly impossible. Now that I can – which is for me an amazing feeling, since I have always had this tendency anyway – I can see the entire picture again. I don’t like what I have become and it is time for it to change for good and for all.

So, I have decided to take my Infant and Pregnancy Loss support bracelet off. I won’t be characterized by one aspect of my being anymore. I have my charm bracelet

(Charms from left to right are for: Miscarriage #2, Miscarriage #1, Chris's charm, my new butterfly [for the ones I used to see while walking this year] and Miscarriage #2)
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(Close-up of charms 1-3)
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(Close-up of charms 4-5)
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and this bracelet is enough for me now. I know what the charms mean to me, as does Hubby, as will Chris when he is old enough to understand he has siblings in heaven. Maybe I will add a charm for another child someday – maybe I won’t. It’s okay. If anyone should ask about the bracelet, then I will share my stories with them. If they don’t notice, then I really don’t need to share it because they probably wouldn’t care anyway.I am always willing to share my story - I am just not going to let it define WHO I AM anymore. Does that make sense??

I am also no longer going to chart anything by my periods, whenever they decide to show up. I know now that all of these physical problems with my stomach has been caused by anxiety (not thyroid – spoke with Dr. S about it Wednesday and she said it definitely not thyroid) – and part of that anxiety has been charting, or what little charting I have been doing since my last miscarriage in March 06. So, if we do go back to TTC, whenever that will be, I will only chart the days I have to take meds and do the IUI – other than that, no moods, no symptoms, no CM, no temps. It is liberating to wake up in the morning and just roll over to see the man you married (and on most occasions, the little boy born of that relationship) – not the digital BBT you have to stick in your mouth and the paper you have to write the temp on.

There is way more to me than the babies I have lost and the fact that I can’t get PG on my own – and I have forgotten that. I think all of us who are going through like trials like this forget who we are at some point in our journeys. I guess that is the only way we learn…

…I just wish we didn’t have to waste such precious time figuring it out.

** Interesting thing is, after I finished writing this post (save for the pic I have to add this weekend), I ran into a lady from another department in our 4th floor lobby on my way to heat up my lunch in our department kitchen. I hadn't seen her in a while (she runs programs like I do, sometimes in our lounge) - and I found out why I hadn't seen her today: She had another baby. Her older son is about 18 months old, and her new son is probably only about 6-8 weeks old. For a change, I wasn't angry or upset - I was happy to see those two little bumpkins. It was nice.

But, the first thing she said to me was (ignoring my comments about cute her boys were), "Wow! You got tiny! You look great! Wish I could do that!"

I was thinking the same thing (the "Wish I could do that" part, I mean), as she held her baby son and gave him his bottle. I wish I could have just had another baby. Very surreal.

She had gastric bypass surgery before she got married about 3 years ago - and even at her thinnest after the bypass was done, she was still about a size 14-16. She looked good, but she never felt that way (although, the skuttlebutt on campus was that she still over-ate despite the bypass - who's to say if that was true or not). She was told to wait a while to have children (the bypass was done not that long before the wedding), but she chose not to. Now that she has had her second son, she is back to the size she was prior to the surgery - and, despite the two beautiful boys she has, she looked sad when she saw me (minus the weight I had, not all of which I chose to lose).

She longs to be thin.... I long to have another child. Amazing how things are put into perspective for you out of the blue.


Jenn T said...

Tina, so many hugs coming your way. I think what you're going through is a normal part of the whole process - especially for us control types. :) For a while it consumes us, we research everything, try to master this with information. And then, slowly, we begin to move through it and take the spirit of our babies along with us.

Wishing you the peace you seem to be moving towards.

Jessica said...

I'm glad you seem to be doing better by the day and 2007 is proving to be a refreshing new beginning.
Interesting about the story you told about that lady. Everyone has their own battles it seems, when I realize this is makes me feel a little more 'normal'.
Still will keep you in my prayers and I read your last post and know you will be backing away from things a little but keep in touch with me cuz I'll miss you too much! ;)

dianne said...

glad to read your blogs again. ((((((hugs))))))
I really appreciate everything you do- even when it is just for you, I like to read it because it makes me think.
You take your time for you, do what You want and when you want it. Glad your family is on the mend healthwise.

I am like you and the lady- i wish to be thin AND i wish to have another baby. there always has to be something hard in life.

i'll be in touch soon.. have a good one
love dianne

Dianne/Flutter said...

This is a beautiful post. Yes, the ending - it is always greener on the other side? Hmmm...but if she knew, you wonder if she would still feel the same way. Thank you for this post, thank you.

Kami said...

I can relate to much of what you said. I was so long in the dark place. I still visit now and then and perhaps you do too, but it no longer consumes me. It is nice to realize life can still be enjoyed.

Jenna said...

How amazingly introspective. I loved the line, "they were too perfect for this world." It is nice to feel this way and I wish I could I felt the same about our loss. I imagine you don't feel that way everyday, but how reassuring it must be to get a wave of that kind of peace every now and then. I wish you all the best. I'm glad I read this post. It was a great pick by the blogger who reviewed your story.

Geohde said...

Hi there, I found this entry via stirrpu-queens.

What a lovely, thoughtful post. Best of luck to you with everything.



Bea said...

Great post. Well-deserved of the best post tag. Best of luck.