Wednesday, April 23, 2014

NIAW: Resolve to know more . . . . about the emotional impact

As always, late to the party, but still intent on participating. To all members of the ALI community, I wish you a wonderful and fruitful National Infertility Awareness Week. For those new to the community or participating for the first time, here's a bit of background.

National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) is a movement that began in 1989. The goal is to raise awareness about infertility as a disease and encourage the public to become more informed about reproductive health. As our society is historically very squeamish regarding all things having to do with sex, this week is incredibly important as it only directly counters a lot of the myths and misinformation surrounding this disease, but also allows for an opportunity for members of this community to break their silence and step out of the shadows.

This movement is founded by RESOLVE: the National Infertility Association, which is a non-profit organization established in 1974. You can find more information about RESOLVE and all the amazing work this organization is doing here.

This year, the theme for NIAW is "Resolve to know more....," with bloggers being challenged to write posts based on this theme. There are already a number of amazing posts, covering everything from the facts about treatment, advocacy/educating others, family building options and even about infertility as a disease.

I'm taking a bit of a different spin.

Like many, one of the hardest and unexpected realities of a diagnosis of infertility was the emotional turmoil caused by this diagnosis. Coming from a family with no known history of fertility struggles, I immediately felt damaged as I was not following in the footsteps of every other woman in my family and conceiving within a couple of months of trying. This failure to connect ultimately lead to me distancing myself from them as they failed time and again to offer support and instead assumed that either I needed to calm down or accept that my situation was "deserved."

As Grey and I began our journey down the rabbit hole that is fertility treatments, we found ourselves becoming more and more isolated from others in our lives. With each surprise pregnancy announcement from others on the heels of another BFN or miscarriage, stealing ourselves became survival mechanism. Granted, there were moments people tried to reach out and support us. But time and again their attempts were either sloppy, as they felt the need to offer quick "fixes," or support waned fast as they found our situation too depressing. After all, everyone loves a happy ending and as time went on it seemed like we were doomed to never get ours.

I've talked before about how this community became my shelter from the storm that is this disease. Though I have not meet most of those who I've connected with here in person, the continual support and love I received became a lifeline and this space became a safe haven. Even now, as the road to resolution has become very clear, I find myself continually drawn back, trying to repay in what ever manner I can that love and support in any way I can.

There are days I most certainly fail. Saying the wrong thing or offending when it was the last thing I ever wanted to do. But I also know that silence can be so much worse.

Over the last few months, since the Beats have arrived, I've been allowing myself to rejoin the "fertile" world, interacting with those who are seemingly and blissfully clueless that infertility even exists. And during that time, as we've shared our story, a funny thing has happened: those who are not reproductively challenged have begun telling us their stories about friends or loved ones who have fallen out of their lives because of infertility/loss. They confessed frustrations about being cut off and feeling left out when they were "trying to help." One woman in particular broke down as she shared about how her BFF no longer is speaking to her after an incident where she assumed a day out with her new daughter would help ease the pain of her friend's recent miscarriage. After all, her little girl brought so much joy to her life; why was it awful to assume that joy couldn't be transmitted?

What's been interesting as we talked with people time and again is how there truly is this disconnect with understanding how emotionally distressing infertility/loss is. While most have been thoroughly educated on how to handle news of other life changing diseases like cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's and even diabetes, with infertility and loss your average person is ignorant if not completely mislead. Time and again, I heard accounts from those battling this disease about platitudes like "just relax," "G_d's plan" and even "wasn't meant to be" offered, of suggestions of "have you tried X" recommended, of people suggesting that a couple should "just adopt" or "just do IVF" when they themselves have zero idea about the complexities of these processes. And most destructive, loved ones turning on these couples, lashing out at them in frustration, because they should simply "get over it."

With each of these conversations, Grey and I have tried to explain why the myths and misconceptions have been so destructive. There are the "ah-ha" moments, where people tell us that they had never considered that point of view or told us that they didn't realize what they were saying would be so hurtful. But many times there's been this unwillingness to accept our viewpoint, with those individuals firmly adhering to the misconceptions and myths as not doing so somehow negatively impacts them.

As a global community, it is time that we change the conversation about infertility/loss. Take away the stigma and allow those who are living with this disease to break there silence and share their stories. Knowing the facts about this disease and how complex and poorly understood it is. How difficult treatment is and the truth about success rates. Debunking the myths and misconceptions surrounding adoption and the process. And knowing that choosing to resolve by not parenting is NOT giving up but actually an empowering decision to reclaim one's life and live it fully instead of living in the darkness. All these things are so important.

Equally important is having the conversation about the emotional aspect. How the uncertainties and fears impact the daily existence of those living with this disease. And how important it is for loved ones to not fall into patterns that are know to exacerbate grief, instead focusing on being willing to listen, offer unconditional support and even educate themselves about each part of the process all while understanding that each journey is a personal one.

It's time we push for society to resolve to know more about the emotional devastation caused by infertility/loss.

For more information, please follow these links: (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.) (About NIAW)

Friday, April 18, 2014


Sitting on a brightly colored mat covered with a white sheet, the physical therapist proceeded to set up a small table in front of She-Beat. On the table, she began placing objects: first a red cube, later a second, then a red hoop with string, next two Cheerios and finally a bell. After placing each object, she watches as She-Beat reaches for it, observes how she inspects it, grasps it, passes it from hand to hand. Grey is sitting behind her, giving her encouragement, asking her what she sees. All the while I sit apart and observe, holding my breath.

For the past 9 months I've though a lot about this appointment. I thought about it the day the Beats were born, which was 6 weeks too soon. I thought about it during our time in NICU, as the physical therapists there assessed them while in their isolettes, observed their growth progression and made note that we could be dealing with torticolis in the future. I thought about it again following She-Beat's frenotomy and then during the sessions with the cranialsacral therapist to correct for prematurity and the effects of the submucosal tie. And I thought about it during their first day of daycare, when I left them in the care of their teachers to interact with other infants, worrying if they were reaching the appropriate milestones and if all the work to overcome the effects of prematurity had simply been in vain.

Yesterday, Grey and I took the Beats in to the local children's hospital and had an appointment with a physical therapist. The purpose of the appointment was simple: how were they doing? Was the fact they were born premature hindering them in any way? So, like many parents with premies, we took them in. All the while running the worst case scenarios through our heads and wondering how we would survive the weekly PT appointments that we saw in our future. How would we afford this? How would we handle the schedule?

As the therapist worked, she noted that I was quieter than usual. Making small-talk, she commented on She-Beats new teeth (which she has happily shown off) and asked questions about what we were observing at home. After a few minutes, she turned her attention to He-Beat, who was sleeping. After switching babies and allowing He-Beat to orient himself, the whole process began again. The whole time, the therapist commented on how different they were from one another, how impressed she was with their ability to grasp objects. She noted their weights, their movements, their responses to their environment and us. And she laughed when it became clear He-Beat was flirting with her. "He's going to be trouble" she announced. Grey chuckled and responded "he already is."

In all, the whole appointment took 90 mins. Both babies were feed, played with and repackaged while she calculated the results of the assessment. Finally, the therapist turned her attention to Grey and me. And just when I thought my heart would jump out of my chest, she smiled broadly and spoke the word I worried I would never hear.


They are well within normal development range. The only prescription is tummy time and play. But there is no need for them to be seen again.

9 months ago, I held two tiny babies in my arms and cried while apologizing to them for failing them. I whispered between tears how much I loved them and promised to do all I could to help them overcome this. 9 months later, they showed Grey and me how incredibly strong and resilent they are. What fighters they have always been.

We've been cleared.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Yet another one of those posts about sex

Yep, you read that one right. This is going to be one of those posts about sex, or more specifically the frustration caused by lack there of. For those of you who know Grey and me in real life, I apologize for the mental imaginary you're about to experience. But, like so much other stuff in my life, I need to get this one out.

Whenever talking about sex, there are always many points in time one can begin with. One could talk about their relationship with sex from a young age, retelling the embarrassment they experienced having "the talk" with your parents (my mother was ahead of the game and I got all the facts about conception by the time I was 9 yrs old), you could start about talking about your first crush, your first sex-dream, the first time you and your love-interest decided to explore, the role religion played in your decision to either wait until marriage or throw caution to the wind. So many places to start. But one common theme comes out again and again when people decide to talk about sex: most of us have a complex relationship with it. The idea of engaging in an act that basically requires letting go of one's inhibitions in order to truly find enjoyment (hence requires lots of trust and good communication) is deeply in contradiction with societal views (sex is shameful, dirty and is not to be discussed), hang-up with self image and even issues with power (sexual abuse, rape, or even a partner who shames you because you don't fit into their skewed idea of "perfect').

On my end, I've always had hang ups about sex. Growing up as a Catholic, it was very much engrained that sex outside of marriage was a major sin. The idea of "impure thoughts" let alone exploration was always quashed. There were additional levels too, with me viewing myself as an ugly duckling and thinking that I would never find a boyfriend, let alone get married. And there was the fact I was desperate to get out of dodge, with anything standing in my way of spreading my wings, especially an unplanned pregnancy, needing to be deflected if not eliminated all together. Add in one unfortunate incident where I had the pleasure of witnessing my parents in the act (for all parents, PLEASE consider other arrangements for sexy time, as trying to be quiet in a hotel room you're sharing with your teenage children isn't really a great idea), and you've got the makings of an asexual.

So it wasn't until college that I really allowed myself to explore the topic of sex at any level. And even then, my access to resources were limited.

Meeting Grey changed all of that. From the very beginning, he was patient with me as we explored not only my hang-ups (some of which he shared) but also provided a safe environment so we could both explore. Shaming has been the ultimate no-no in our relationship, as it inhibits not only exploration but also dampens trust. So from the beginning, open and honest communication has been key. And for the first 6 yrs of our relationship, this model worked out great.

Then we decided to try for a baby.

I don't need to elaborate with this audience how much infertility fucks with one's sex life, but for those who are looking for more information read here, here and this study, which is also summarized here. Regardless, it's well known that the prescribed sex, the monthly grieving pattern following BFNs, feelings of failure associated with the act to a general decay in self-worth. Infertility is the nuclear warhead to a healthy sex life. The thing is as one is in the midst of it, there's this hope that one day, after infertility is behind you, you'll be able to reclaim the sex life you once had. The problem is no one really openly talks about how to accomplish this.

There's an added wrinkle to all of this. For me, my pregnancy with the Beats ended very traumatically. Though I am forever grateful to the amazing medical staff who not only saved my life but also provided amazing medical care to the Beats during their time in NICU, the truth is that seeing my twins hooked up to machines, having wires and tubes coming out of their incredibly small bodies and having them live in a plastic isolette for about 2 weeks solidified how much my body had failed them and their siblings. Instead of marveling at what my body could do, providing a warm, safe environment for them to grow, I was struggling with the growing guilt and shame of this failure as a mother. Add in the fact that my body is still distorted, I'm at least 30 lbs overweight and Raynaud's phenomenon makes it so that my boobs are on fire every couple of hours and the result is the idea of "sexy" is pretty much quashed.

The past week a lot of this has come to a head. Grey is frustrated with this element of our relationship being gone and, frankly, so am I. I find I'm much more irritable with people, resenting the idea that others have found ways to bring this back into their lives (which is evident by the recent pregnancy/birth announcements). The problem is how to overcome it. And for this, I'm completely at a loss, as compared to other pressing items like sleep, job security, dealing with a leaky roof, dealing with destructive neighbors (who by-the-way have INCREDIBLY noisy sex makes one wonder if they aren't simply filming a porno), on top of child-care and day-to-day logistics, sex and personal care is pretty much at the bottom of the list.

So, my question to all of you is this: how do you do it? How do you prioritize sex during/after infertility? Thoughts, suggestions and even crazy stories completely welcome.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Part IV: The road to resolution

The final post in my transition back into blogging. Something I've been thinking about a lot over the past year since that first BFP. As always, if you are in not a good place, please, please, PLEASE take care of yourself first. And please bear with me as I ramble.

Years ago, following an official diagnosis of "unexplained infertility" and all the emotional turmoil that comes with it, I held fast to the belief that having a baby would automatically lead to me resolving. As naive as it sounds, the thought was that obtaining that elusive BFP and going through pregnancy would result in my crossing over into a world of bliss and happiness. I believed this so much that my original plan was to shut down this blog once I got the positive pregnancy test.

Then the losses happened.

And I learned about all that could go wrong with pregnancy.

So as I white knuckled my way through this pregnancy, I modified my belief, hoping that once the Beats arrived a lot of the anxiety would disappear. Sure, parenting would be hard, but I subconsciously believed that all that would change if/when I could hold the Beats.

And, obviously, I was still very naive.

Over the past 7 months, both Grey and I have gotten into the habit of checking the Beats every night around 2 am. The ritual is always the same, involving checking their lips to see if they are blue, counting breaths and assessing their quality. At moments where their breathing is so peaceful, making it difficult to detect, we've been mean enough to wake them up. All out of fear that by not checking that the worse will happen. And though this fear is slowly subsiding, the running joke is that these breathing checks will continue well into the time the Beats move out and marry (and will be an interesting thing to have to explain to their future life partners).

As I've reflected on this ritual that both Grey and I have adopted, I've realized my view on resolution being a destination has been a flawed one. After all, infertility has changed and shaped both Grey and me in such a way that we are both very different individuals compared to who we were before this trauma. So to view resolution as a destination, a final point on our map actually is an injustice to all we've been through and learned along the way. Hence I've been modifying how I view resolution, seeing it more as a process, a journey all it's own.

A couple of weeks ago, Mali @ No Kidding In NZ wrote this post where she talks about how she wants to see less gratitude and sensitivity from those who are parenting after adoption/infertility/loss. Her point being one that is completely reflective of where she is in life and one that I hadn't considered. When I argued that she was a "minority of a minority," what I meant was that most people I had meet IRL who had resolved to not to parent following infertility/loss were still addressing the emotions and logistics surrounding this decision. Hence the reason I've been so mindful about the warnings for posts for the Beats. But Mali, as usual, got me thinking more and more about the resolution process. Just as Loribeth had. A similar post from Mo @ Life and Love in the Petri Dish has added to this too.

So here's me taking a leap and being honest with all who read this: the truth is that as much as I love and cherish the Beats, I still am battling the demons from infertility. I'm still in disbelief our babies are not only here, but thriving (and man are they thriving), waiting for me to wake from this dream and find it all gone. I also mourn deeply the loss of our other potential babies, as I now have a more concrete comparison of what we lost. It's not to say that my grief before was any less, but it is different. On top of all of this, I worry that because of all we've been through that I'm actually unfit as a parent, failing these babies on a daily basis. And I still feel unworthy of this gift. Of being able to hold these two at night, feel the softness of their skin against mine, receive their smiles and inhale the sweetness of them.

Recently I found a quote from Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore that seems to summarize this best:

“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn't something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn't get in, and walk through it, step by step. There's no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That's the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.

An you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You'll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.

And once the storm is over you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about.”

In short, though told that the hurricane that was our journey this past 3 yrs is now over, I'm finding that I don't entirely trust that. Looking back on how exactly this last FET and subsequent pregnancy played out, I'm still in disbelief. Hence resolution isn't a destination at all; for me it's actually been a journey.

One thing is clear, though my journey towards pregnancy is over, this chapter of my life is not. As Grey and I travel down this road, there are some additional things we need to address. But day by day, I'm finding the wounds are healing and I'm becoming less afraid of showing the scars. Still, I have a long way to go. This part of our journey has just started, but I'm lucky in that I have some fantastic role models to follow who have bravely blazed the trail.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Soundtrack of their first months: Elevate

Friendly reminder and warning regarding posts about the Beats: As always, feel free to skip these posts if you are not in a good place, need to guard your heart or simply find them unbearably cheesy.

Back at the beginning of January, I was reading a number of posts for various bloggers reflecting on the previous year and hopes for the new one. One particular theme that I loved was picking a single word or phrase for the upcoming year as a symbol for what is desired or to sum up the previous year. Thinking back on the past few years, I struggle with this as there is so much wrapped up with each one, from personal growth, hope, heartbreak and facing death. But with 2014, both Grey and I have been very clear with our intentions from the get go: 2014 is meant to be a year of transition, both mentally, emotionally and even physically. There's currently a lot going on behind the scenes that I promise to eventual share, but those first steps we've already taken (both of us have new employment and a new outlook on what we want from our careers) have been both frightening and freeing.

One morning, as we were preparing for the first feed of the day, a new song came on the radio. In an effort to distract the Beats while Grey finished warming a bottle, we had a little dance party in bed. Though this song was time perfectly for this and was meant to be nothing more initially, the tune stuck with me throughout the day. Reflecting on the lyrics later made me realize that the title was our theme for 2014. That Grey and I are no longer looking outward to achieve our goals, but solely looking to ourselves.

St. Lucia - Elevate
I don't know how you do it
But somehow you've always will be there
And there's nothing to it
But somehow you've always understand

There's no way to wake up now
Too many times I saw you cry
No one can make up ...
You wait for the sun to make the sky

No one elevates you, elevates you now
And no one is going to take you, going to take you there

All this time, never thought I would see you smile
Know that I, and I know that I see it now
But I know I can't walk it
Never go back again
No matter how, tonight I'll
Never go back, never go back again

No one elevates you, elevates you now
And no one is going to take you, going to take you there

You know that I want to get away
And I cannot wait another day
You know I want to elevate
Time to pick up and celebrate

No one elevates you, elevates you now
And no one is going to take you, going to take you there

Hold on to your heart

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Getting back in the saddle: Part III - Processing another's grief and forgiveness

This post has been one that I've been mentally writing for about 6 months, going back and forth with how exactly to write it to articulate accurate the thoughts that have been swimming in my head. I've also gone back and forth a lot about whether or not to publish any of this as at first glance it could seem as an attack. I promise it's not my intention at all. So, bear with me as my thoughts on all of this are still jumbled and I'm fairly certain I won't get this right on the first time.

It's no secret that grief and infertility/loss go hand in hand. Ask any person who's been on this journey for any length of time and they can easily educate you on the grieving process (5 stages and all) as well as share personal accounts of moving through them. Over the past 3 years I've read countless posts about grief, ranging from the grief due to shock of finding oneself dealing with infertility/loss, grief due to a failed treatment cycle or BFN to grief due to loss of a child, stillbirth or miscarriage and even grief due to coming to the end of one's TTC journey without the ending they wanted. The themes are always the same: unfathomable pain, feelings of isolation/shame, anger and always an effort to try to understand why. All valid and all understandable.

The problem arises, though, when grief and pain are compared. That somehow someone's experience is negated because their pain is consider "less" than another's. That somehow there's a scale to measure pain and if we don't fall on it, then one should simply suck-it-up. Similarly there are experiences that few want to even imagine exist. Simply talking about these makes those around them uncomfortable and it's not uncommon to hear explanations or simple platitudes as if somehow it will make everything all better.

But there's one other level to all of this that I hadn't considered until as of late. This idea that somehow we should all be able to understand another's grief inherently. That when someone else is hurting, there should be no need to explanation and that one false step condemns the offender for even trying. It's something I most certainly have been guilty, but it wasn't until I was on the receiving end that I realized how guilty I've truly been.

About three weeks ago, two posts in particular have had me thinking more and more on this subject. The first from Northern Star @ Constant in the Darkness explores processing another's regret over the decision to enter the adoption process. She does a nice job of not only exploring boundaries but also how another's regret over decisions is not reflective on her. The second post is from Loribeth @ The Road Less Traveled as she explores this idea of "I can't imagine" as a way to invalidate someone's grief. If you haven't read either of these posts, I really recommend taking a moment, especially the comments section for Loribeth's. But the thing I took away from both posts is that there's this tendency for ownership of grief to be passed. That when a connection is made with the grieving party, we should somehow inherently understand exactly what they are thinking and feeling in the moment.

Here's the thing that I'm learning, though: this misplaced definition of empathy is next to impossible. There's no way that anyone of us can truly understand all the thoughts and emotions of someone who is grieving. We most certainly can try and, many times, we can get to a point where we are close. But we are all unique individuals with unique life journeys. One individuals tragedy is another person's bump in the road. Someone's pain may be nonexistent for another. And it is wrong of any of us to assume otherwise.

The spark behind all of this is two separate situations. The first is my relationship with Grey's brother Lucas. The last place we left things was with a letter where we were both trying to express how the actions of the other had caused pain and anger. The truth of it all is that my anger over my losses was placed on him and his wife Moon as they were easily able to conceive and birth a daughter during the period where Grey and I were losing our pregnancies for no explanation. I was angry over the unfairness of it all and I blamed both of them for their lack of sensitivity towards us as we were struggling.

Before the Beats were born, I made a conscious decision that all of this needed to be worked out. I needed to be at peace with his family prior to our babies arriving and I needed Grey to allow me to openly communicate my feelings. It took a bit, with many drafts going between Grey, David and myself, but that initial letter was meant simply to get the conversation off the ground. And off the ground it did, with Lucas writing a well thought-out response that was respectful though valid.

Then the Beats were born and everything was put on hold. The whole experience strengthen the bond between Grey and Lucas, with them exchanging countless texts about everything one could imagine regarding twin parenting and the frustrations/fears/anxieties of those first few months. But outside of those exchanges, Lucas and I certainly haven't talked. And though I began to understand first-hand some of the complaints and hardships that he had previously talked about with Grey, I still felt some residual anger that he failed to understand all we had been through to even get the Beats here.

What changed all of that was a second situation. Around the time the Beats came home from the NICU, another friend who had struggled with RPL finally birthed her child. Though a very happy occasion, it was clear there was still a lot of stress with adjusting and learning how to care for her. In addition, I suspect she was also struggling with postpartum anxiety, a close relative of postpartum depression. All of this happening during a period where both Grey and I were struggling with severe sleep deprivation, fighting to get breastfeeding off the ground (a difficult thing to do when the babies first learned to eat from a bottle and we were unknowingly dealing with tongue-tie with She-Beat) and a looming contrast MRI.

The details aren't important, but the day of my MRI, I made the mistake of venting to her all my concerns. I was tried, struggling with anxiety from the experience of being in the MRI machine, suffering from hallucinations from the contrast agent and feeling like a failure from the news that She-Beat wasn't able to transfer milk while on the boob. I was told immediately that I needed to quit breastfeeding, as this is something she had just done, and that I needed to hand off the Beats to Grey for an evening for him to care for solely so I could sleep.

The short of it is that I knew this advice wasn't good for my family. Grey was also incredibly sleep deprived and had just returned to work, so an evening of him solely caring for the Beats would have been disastrous. In addition, I wasn't ready to give up on breastfeeding. Things up to that point had been working and there were a few other avenues I wanted to explore. It's not to say that I don't think those who feed formula are somehow doing something wrong, but that was not the choice I wanted to make for feeding my babies (and I still had that choice).

So I ignored her. Sloppily responding to the texts as typing was next to impossible as I was blacking out from the MRI experience. And then I spent the next 2 weeks working with Grey to figure out a sleep schedule we could both live with, working with Renee Beebe to resolve She-Beat's tongue-tie and ultimately getting to a place that was better for my family.

What happened after that shocked me. I knew things were potentially tense with this friend, but I wasn't expecting to be accused of judging her because I refused her advice. That I would be labeled as a bitter and selfish person because I had vented that day. That somehow my decision to continue breastfeeding suggested she was a horrible mother for her decision to formula feed. Never mind the fact that I vocalized time and again that I believed this was the best decision for her and her family. Me not joining the club meant I was judging her and somehow I should have known better. Add in a comment how I needed to tell Grey to start stepping up and be a father (because she believed he wasn't) and I was instantly pissed.

And just like that two things happened. The first being that I knew for the sake of my family, I needed to allow her to end the friendship. If it was between her and the Beats, my babies had to come first. The second was I immediately understood how unfair I had been to Lucas and Moon. Because what this friend was doing to me is pretty much what I've done to them.

Let me be very clear: in no way am I excusing the standard exclusion and minimalism your average ALIer faces from society. Comments that are meant to invalidate someone's pain/grief are never acceptable. But what I'm also learning is that those of us who are grieving have a responsibility to help guide those who are trying to reach out and offer support. That failed attempts from someone who is genuinely trying is not a reason to villainize that person or throw them into the same category as those who clearly don't care. To do so not only furthers the rift and actually perpetuates to myth of the bitter infertile.

In other words, as Grey likes to remind me during moments of impasse, one has to be helpable. Otherwise there's no winning.

The end result of all of this has been me slowly drafting a response to Lucas's last letter, trying to express all of this and to ask for an apology. I'd be lying if I said this was an easy thing for me to do. But the truth is, in order for all of us to move forward and for me to help them better understand all we've been through, I need to ask for forgiveness. I need to acknowledge that it was not their responsibility to own any of my grief for our losses nor the pain caused by them being able to do seamlessly what we struggled with for so long.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Soundtrack of their first months: Somebody to love

This past summer, back when I was still a pregnant infertile, Grey and I had a discussion about maintaining sanity during the first few months after the Beats arrived. Remembering back to our trip to help Lucas and his wife following the arrival of their twins, we talked extensively about whether to buy or relocate our existing TV into our bedroom so that there would be some background noise during the middle-of-the-night feeds. Ultimately we decided against this, opting instead to invest in an iPod docking system complete with radio. A decision and investment that has overwhelming paid for itself time and time again.

Anyway, during those first few weeks of the Beats being home, the radio played nonstop to provide background noise to help soothe the babies to sleep. What was unexpected, though, was that a soundtrack would emerge representing their first few months of life. Songs that we've danced to as a family; songs that I've wept big fat tears over while rocking the Beats to sleep; songs that have broken my heart as I've reflected on our journey to become parents; songs that reminded me to have hope.

Given that writing has been difficult due to my new job, the new daycare schedule and general life craziness, I thought I share some of these with all of you. As always, feel free to skip these posts if you are not in a good place, need to guard your heart or simply find them unbearably cheesy.

Folk music has become a love of mine since I first arrived in the Pacific Northwest. This love started while I was in college, but blossomed following living with a local musician and having the opportunity to explore the local music scene with her. During my year living in the Mint House, I dreamed some of the sweetest dreams after falling asleep to Jen's guitar and even now when I'm in a vulnerable state, I still find comfort in listening to some bluegrass music while enjoying a beer.

One night in September, around the Beats due date, I found myself alone with two whimpering babies who were practically inconsolable. Not wanting to wake Grey, as it was my time to cover the babies so he could recharge, I began scanning the radio in hopes of finding something that would help all of us get some sleep. I stopped on the local station and decided to give the program a shot following an introduction of a new musician who played bluegrass music while sporting dreadlocks. The music that filled the bedroom that evening not only coaxed the Beats to sleep, but brought me to tears while also making me laugh. Music that touched me to my very core.

The artist from that night is Valerie June, a singer/songwriter from the Memphis area who specializes in a form of bluegrass music that she happily refers to as Organic Moonshine Roots music. Valerie's first album "Pushin against a stone" is the result of a Kickstarter project and was co-written and produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and Kevin Augunas (think Edward Sharp and Florence + The Machine). She's been featured on NPR Music, BBC Radio 6 and most recently with the Revival Tour

Though I could write an entire blogpost about each song she performed that night and the emotions that they drew out of me, I won't and instead will focus on the song I rocked the Beats to sleep to that night. A song that I still hum to them when I'm drying their tears following moments of unhappiness. A song that has become my promise to them. A song that when I sing, makes me cry tears of my own: tears of joy for having these two in my life and tears of sorrow for the ones I never got to hold.

Valerie June - Somebody to love
Well, if you're tired
and feelin' so lonely
you wake up at night
thinking that only
if you had somebody
I'll be somebody
Somebody to love

Did they tell you, there are
plenty of fish in the sea
but you're drowning and cold
and you're feelin' empty

Looking for somebody
I'll be somebody
Somebody to love

I'll be somebody x3
If you need somebody
I'll be somebody x2
If you need somebody
I'll be somebody x3

If you need somebody
Somebody to love

Are you watching the moon risin'
in the darkest of night

Battered and broken
'Cause you know it ain't right

'Cause you ain't got nobody
You ain't got nobody
you ain't got nobody

And I'll be somebody
I'll be somebody
Somebody to Love

I'll be somebody
If you need somebody
I'll be somebody x 3
if you need somebody
I'll be somebody x3
You can call on me
I'll be somebody x3
You can count on me
I'll be somebody x2
Somebody to love

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