It started with a text. A simple "hey, how are you?" I hadn't heard from my brother since Christmas, when the usual pleasantries were exchanged. After a brief back-and-forth, he asked if I was available to talking the next night. Simply to catch up and see how things were going.
But Grey and I knew this was something more. An opening that we had been waiting for. So after my brother called and he updated me on life and its usual drama, I made the decision to tell him all. All about the last 3 years, including IVF, our losses, the pain and uncertainty. And finally about his niece and nephew.
And with that decision, the flood gates have been opened. The wheels of reconnect are turning and a plan is in motion. Today I need to finalize letters and make a plan for mailing. So much to think about. So much uncertainty.
Tonight is the Wave of Light. As with past October 15ths, today has been a solemn one filled with emotion and many moments of quiet. The pain of those losses still very real as it was two years ago.
But this year is different. Whereas before, where there was fear of losing the dream of being a parent, this year I find myself being allowed to remember those good moments before the trauma hit. The quiet happiness that came with finally seeing for BFPs and allowing myself to be pregnant. Even if just for a moment.
This morning, after feeding the Beats and consoling them following a rough night of sleep due to vaccinations, I was greeted with a song by Eddie Vedder I had never heard before. How easily the tears came, but instead of sharp pain of grief came a wave of healing. A knowledge that though I will always ache for those 6 potential babies that we lost too soon, there is also the knowledge that I now have the strength to honor them.
To all my brothers and sisters in loss, I wish you peace and healing today. May the wave of light envelop you and may you find peace in the knowledge that our babies lost too soon live on with all of us.
A few years ago, as I was near the end of my graduate training, I had a rare conversation about finding balance in life with my graduate mentor. The conversation was sparked by a group of graduate students and postdocs meeting with a speaker who was visiting to talk about her research. During the back-and-forth about the data from a recent paper, a newer assistant professor came into the room to say "hi" to the speaker, wearing her newborn son. What was suppose to be a quick chat, turned into both women sitting in the middle of the room doling out life advice about how to balance all the craziness that comes with pursuing a career in science. It was a discussion that my graduate advisor would continue with me and another graduate student later that afternoon and well into the evening.
The advice was simple. In order to be successful in life, you have to pick two things to focus on. Be it family, career, social life or a certain hobby. Because the reality was, in their opinion, that in order to do things well, you have to devote yourself. And there is only so much one can be devoted to.
I remember being shocked when I heard this. Especially from this group of highly-intelligent, well-respected women. The feminist ideal on so many levels. And yet the advice they were giving was completely contradictory to what had been drilled into my head for over 20 yrs. That it wasn't possible to be everything and anything I put my mind to. That in order to find balance, some things would have to fall to the wayside.
I've been reflecting on this conversation a lot recently, given that there has been a lot of change in the Cristy-Grey household. A couple of weeks ago, I started teaching again at one of the local universities, be it on a part-time basis. Two days out of the week, the whole family is packed up and commutes to work/school for a few hours, during which time I get to wear the hat of "professor." The other three days I play the role of SAHM, filling my days with trips to the library, walks to local parks, doctor's visits and unscheduled playtime. Nap times are spent grading, preparing lectures and applying for permanent positions as well as dealing with the usual grown-up logistics. In short, I'm far from bored.
The thing is, though, as I reflect on my life pre-TTC, during TTC and now, things are so drastically different. The life I knew before was one where I had substantially more free-time and one that was much less structured. The idea that there would be only two things I would be focusing on seemed ludicrous.
On a lot of levels I'm struggling with this idea that we only get two things in life. Some of it is due to this feeling of inadequacy that I'm truly unable to do everything I set my heart to. But there's also quilt that goes with this too. Unlike before, where I had both time and energy to nurture friendships, pursue hobbies, broaden my mind and explore the world, I feel almost autistic with my focus. I know a lot of it has to do with the fact there is so much change happening within my world. Change in big things that will not only benefit my family, but will lead me to the goals I've held in my heart for so long. But it's hard not to pine after what is being lost in the process.
Grey and I have been talking about this more and more, particularly with application deadlines looming. On one hand, he's not had to deal with certain aspects simply due to his gender and how society views his position in the world. But on others, he is struggling too, feeling older and more grumpy with his daily dealings. Part of it he blames on age and becoming a grown-up. The other part we're both still trying to figure out.
I have no regrets about the choices I've made in life. Granted, there are moments I wish would have turned out differently, but I know ultimately each of those decisions lead me to where I am today. Still, I'm struggling with this idea of only getting two things. Struggling to find that other things I value so much are going to the back-burner. And wondering how others do it.
I did a terrible thing last week. Following something that started out so innocent about a month ago. Our family had just learned of a new children's songwriter and had been exploring his music. And it had been going over well with the Beats and Grey too. One afternoon, during a moment where they were melting down, I decided to look for some music videos. And in that moment when both toddlers became glued to the computer screen, I knew I was screwed.
I do have a post for #MicroblogMondays, but this one is more important.
This is a call to all NICU moms and moms of children who have had to undergo heart surgery. Particular kids who have been diagnosed with Ventricular Septum Defect (VSD). If you or someone you know has any experience with this condition, please go visit Toni and share your story. Her daughter Lilah has been diagnosed with this condition and they are preparing for the first of multiple surgeries. It goes without saying that Toni is worried sick about all of this and is looking for information. Please take a moment to offer her what support you can.
So very late to this party of a fabulous idea. Thank you Mel!
You read about it. Hear horror stories. 4 months, 9 months and again at 12 months. So far we've been lucky, with the sleepless nights being linked with illness, only lasting a few days. But the past two weeks of no sleep coupled with babies who insist on midnight bottles are a clear indication we've been in the thick of it.
Please, please, pretty please, my sweet and adorable Beats. Please sleep through the night.
Fall has come to the Pacific Northwest. Despite promises of 85 degree F weather this weekend, the grey overcast that has settled and the shortening days are warning everyone of the rains to come.
The weather change has been effecting me differently this year. In years past, the transition to autumn brought with it a sense of sadness, as carefree evenings playing in the outdoors were coming to an end. During our time in the trenches, the school buses and backpacks were a reminder of what was missing. This year is different, though. Though the sadness still exists, I find I'm having difficulty pinning down the reason for it. That and the fact that it's not continual, but instead surfaces like waves crashing against the shore.
One moment from today has really stuck with me. Next week classes start at a new institution I will be lecturing at. In preparation, I made the drive up to campus in order to orient myself to my new setting and tour the classroom to familiarize myself with where I would be lecturing. A newer institution that is rapidly growing, I decided to take some time touring the other buildings. As I walked through the halls, poking my head into the new lecture halls and laboratory spaces, I also noticed a few other students doing the same thing, mapping out where their courses would be held so as to prepare for the first day. And as I followed behind some of them, holding the door so they could pass by me, I caught sight of my hand and noticed the beginnings of what I assume will be liver spots. And immediately an emotional wave hit the shore.
One of the hardest parts about infertility and loss was watching so many around me move on to the milestone that was parenting. Not only my peers but also those who were so much younger than me. At the time I felt stuck in limbo, feeling very much left behind. With the help of David and Dee, I began moving out of that limbo and began embracing life again. But what I didn't anticipate was the fact that though emotionally I felt stuck, I actually wasn't. That instead I was on a detour that so few talk about, navigating my way back to this supposed "land of the living."
Seeing my hand was solid evidence that I am not longer a young woman. And with that, the first thought that popped into my head was "where did all the time ago?" After all, the years between 2009-2014 seem like nothing short of a blur. Where the sadness comes is when I pause and remember all that happened during that period. The pain, though now dull, is still palatable and easily remembered.
Despite it all, I know I would not change my journey. Those years in the trenches have shaped me more as a person than any other experience in my life. All for the better. Yet there are still the moments. The moments where the sadness comes back. The moments I remember the should-have-beens and when hope was lost. It is with these waves comes the knowledge of how hard this period truly was. How minimizing and isolating it felt to be walking a path most refuse to acknowledge. And how it didn't have to be that way.
After many blissful years of marriage, my husband Grey and I decided to toss the birth control and take the plunge into parenthood. What we've encountered instead is a diagnosis of unexplained infertility and an inability to stay pregnant. Now, after two losses, a failed FET, a diagnosis of APA syndrome and an early delivery & NICU experience, we are finally parenting our miracle twins. This is our story.