Monday, January 13, 2014

Getting back in the saddle. Part 1: Confronting the guilt


Remember a couple of months ago when I wrote about not neglecting this space? That I didn't want to become one of those bloggers who fell off the face of the earth following giving birth.

Yeah, color me guilty.

In all honesty my intentions of maintaining this space were genuine. And there was a time there for a bit that I *thought* I'd be able to find the time to write. But then it didn't happen. And it didn't happen for a variety of reasons, all of which need to be addressed.

Starting today, I intend to rectify that. With the new year, the Beats now mostly sleeping through the night (big win on this end) and me transitioning back to work, it's time.

So I'm getting back in the saddle, so to speak. And I've made the decision, as this space is mine, to shameless write about all the crazy thoughts and emotions I've lived through over the past 6 months. Do I anticipate that some of what is said here being hard for others to read about: most certainly. But I'm also realizing that honesty ultimately leads to better outcomes; that suppressing dominating thoughts and feelings ultimately does no one any good (and can actually be a destructive force). So for those who are still following this space, I ask that you bear with me during these next few posts. And I also ask that you recognize that my decisions are my own and not recommendations on how others should be living their lives.


About two weeks ago, Grey and I were discussing so logistics regarding preparing the Beats for daycare (which we refer to as school). As we were finishing our discussion about bottles, nap schedules and making sure that Grey would have the opportunity to have lunch with them once a week, Grey paused and got a far off look on his face. After a moment, he turned, looked at me with a very solemn expression and asked me the following question:

"A year ago, where did you think we would be today?"

Without missing a beat, I answered him "not here; not with them."

He nodded quietly. "I had the same thought, too."

You see, unlike past fertility treatments, where we both entered into the process with the hope of a take home baby, both of us entered into this final FET with the thought that it would be closure. As crazy as it sounds, it turns out neither of us expected the outcome that we got as instead we were preparing to close this chapter and move straight into the adoption process.

What happened instead has literally turned our world upside-down, be it in the happiest and most wonderful way possible. Suddenly we became "that couple;" the ones where all hope was lost and *BANG* a miracle happened. Don't get me wrong, we are both beyond grateful that everything worked out the way it did as we are now raising two very healthy and happy babies, effectively ending our journey towards biological children. But what we both feel we haven't been allowed to process is all the emotions that have come from this unexpected outcome. That because things worked out the way they did, all we are allowed is to feel joy and gratitude.

This past weekend, Lisa @ Hapa Hopes wrote this fantastic post about coming to terms with transitioning into motherhood after infertility. If you haven't read it, I recommend taking a moment to click over and doing so, as she does a very nice job of addressing some of these feelings. Most importantly, though, Lisa is brave enough to talk about the sadness she feels with the knowledge that her daughter may be an only child. That as much as she wants to experience pregnancy again and expand her family, she's also preparing herself for the reality that it may not happen.

Here's the thing: Grey and I always intended to stop the TTC process once we had two children. Like many in our circle, our child-bearing plan was composed simply to experience this process twice. Logically, I know we hit the jackpot with our twins. Two very healthy and happy babies following a mostly uneventful pregnancy. Granted there have been moments that haven't been easy (sleep deprivation that was extended because the Beats were premature, being in NICU, etc), but overall we've been very lucky. And every time I interact with our two rainbow babies, I can't help but marvel at what I see in front of me. Because, truly, after saying goodbye to our biological children a couple of summers ago, I really believed that I would never get to experience this.

But the ugly truth is, as much joy/elation/unbound happiness I feel when I'm with the Beats, there's also a bit of sadness that comes with knowing I will never be pregnant again. Trust me, I get how painful this statement is for someone who has never been pregnant after struggling so long or for someone who has experienced loss. But knowing very well that this option is forever gone without a chance to experience it again brings a sense of loss, even though we never intended more than two.

And that's when the guilt comes rushing in. After all, we have what we fought so hard for. And pregnancy is simply suppose to be a means to an end. We should simply be grateful.

After a lot of reflection, though, it dawned on me that there was more going on than I accounted for. You see, something changed the day Grey and I started down the road towards adoption/living solely as a family of two. To travel that path requires that you enter a grieving process that so few will actually encounter. It's not to say that somehow people who don't explore this are somehow experience less pain due to infertility and/or loss, but the grieving process is different and there is a shift that occurs. And that shift requires to acknowledgement of saying goodbye.

I know what you're thinking at this point: if pregnancy is so important, why not simply undergo another round of IVF? After all, I know that I am able to become pregnant and successfully carry. The thing is, it's not that simple. Anyone who's undergone IVF can tell you how taxing the process is, financially, emotionally and psychologically. There's no "just" to this process. Add in the fact that I now have a diagnosis that automatically sticks me into the "high risk" category and suddenly things become a lot more murky. It's not to say that we couldn't go down this road if we wanted, but the reality for Grey and I is that we believe for us the costs far outweigh the benefits.

There's also the additional factor that the birth of the Beats has actually intensified the pain of our miscarriages. In raising the Beats and observing them reach milestone after milestone makes me think more about the embryos that didn't make it. Would they have their sister's eyes? Their brother's smile? Would they have giggle uncontrollably during baths or snuggled so sweetly on Grey's chest? These thoughts bring with them a new sense of loss for those we never got to hold.
At the end of the day, I know how fortunate Grey and I are. At the end of this emotional, gut-wrenching journey, we got what we desired all along. That somehow, during our preparations to close this chapter on the potential for biological children, we got this amazing gift. And not a day goes by that I don't thank the universe for the Beats. For their smiles, coos, snuggles, and even those poopy diapers. Just thinking about them brings fresh tears to my eyes; tears fuel by gratitude and joy. Still, there is grief of things lost. Grief that I wasn't expecting and I still don't entirely feel safe exploring.

So today I'm confessing my guilt, all while knowing that in doing so I will be angering others. That my confession is in a way betraying those that supported us during a time when we needed it most; those that gave us strength to continue forward when all seemed futile.  I can't begin to tell you how fearful I am of that. Yet I also know that in the process of protecting all of you, I've also pulled away. So it's time I bare these thoughts to all of you, hoping that somewhere in all of this there will be understanding. And that will fuel this transition both Grey and I are now undertaking.

Part II coming soon. Topic: a diagnosis.


  1. First of all, it is so great to see you back and blogging again. I know that your life has to be super busy and you don't want to miss a moment with the beats.

    Beautiful post today and I can really appreciate you being so honest and open about your experience.

  2. I so enjoyed this post. Thank you so much for being so honest. You took some of my thoughts and put them into words.

  3. Aw welcome back, lovely post. Just because you are sad you won't have more children does not make you any less grateful for the Beats. :)

  4. Welcome back, Cristy. I can't imagine what it's like to try to find time to blog with newborn twins...I can barely find it now! And don't worry about the haters. We've got your back. I wish people would just let others have their feelings without telling them that they're right or wrong.

  5. I don't think you should be so fearful. It is inevitable that you will be having many of these feelings. Feeling gratitude, yet at the same time feeling loss, is I expect very normal in your situation. And it's terribly hard to have to deal with it all at once - the joy and the grief. All those competing emotions, confusing the hell out of you.

    And guilt, such an awful emotion, seems normal too. (In a reversal of your situation, I've felt guilt over feeling joy and gratitude for what my life offers me.) What's important is that you are recognising what you have, but at the same time trying to come to terms with what is over, or what you lost. As Melissa said above, these feelings don't make you any less grateful. I think I would be very frustrated if you felt you couldn't express any negative emotions, simply because you are "supposed" to be so happy and grateful. Because that's not realistic either.

    Wishing you the very best.

  6. As always this is a beautiful post, one I can understand completely. Even though I have this beautiful, amazing little girl there is a part of me that is resentful that I didn't get to carry her and go through the pregnancy. Which leaves me feeling extremely guilty because I'm so lucky to be her mother at all. I also think about my lost babies a lot as well. Every milestone she hits, I wonder if my other babies would have hit them as well.

    But in no way should you feel guilty about expressing those feelings on YOUR blog. If people have a problem with it there is a simple solution...don't read. This is your space and you should do with it what you please. I know that is easier said than done as I've been struggling with the same thing for weeks but I'm working on it.

    You, my friend, always inspire me so I for one greatly look forward to many more posts.

  7. I'm so glad you're "back." I resonate with much of what you write and can't wait to hear more of what you have to say.

  8. Hey! I'm so glad to read this post - parenting after infertility is its own can of worms. It can be so hard to reach out - feelings of guilt and sadness mixed with overpowering gratitude and happiness is not an easy place to navigate.

    It's surreal to be in a place that you couldn't have even dreamed about a year ago - I totally get that. I'm proud of you for admitting that this can be difficult and for sharing your experiences. There is nothing easy about infertility, including the coming to terms with everything part even after our families are blessed with babies.

    I'm glad you're back! I hope daycare/school went well and that you guys are settling in to your transitions!

  9. What everyone else has said. ;) Glad to see you back, although it's certainly understandable that time to write is at a premium for you right now...! I so enjoy reading your thoughtful, well-written posts.

  10. So good to see you back! I loved every word of this... so perfect for your return. The hurt and joy and complicated feelings all together.

  11. You know I understand my friend. All of it. I feel the exact same way. The feeling guilty over wanting a second chance to experience pregnancy and birth. Feeling grief over the ones you lost and what they could have been. I am in the same position of having no more embryos and knowing IVF is not in our future. If there is one thing I can tell you to feel better for, it's that your twins have each other. You will never have to be sad they don't have a sibling. I am dealing with that now and it's hard. You have nothing to be sorry for in telling us this secret. It's common among IF parents. Missing you and the babies already.

  12. Nice to see you writing again.
    In the cycle I finally got pregnant with Paxlet, I too was preparing for a childless life. I had even gone to a psychologist to discuss my thoughts and feelings. Add on top of that my mom's recent death and I was in a horrible state. It is amazing how there is still a wide range of emotions, even though I've gotten what I ultimately wanted. Life is strange and continues to be so.

  13. Happy to read that you are back

  14. Great to hear from you.

    Isn't it surprising how closely intertwined joy and loss can be? Fulfillment and guilt? I don't know why it's surprising. Part of me wants only half the dealio (the happy half)!

    I think it's great that you're exploring this, acknowledging the full range of emotions. I'll be here reading.

  15. It's been said many times and it's true: going on to parent doesn't take away the pain of infertility. Yes, you are in a place that many others are still struggling to get to, but that doesn't change the fact that you still belong to this crappy club that can't really plan the family you've always dreamed of.

    I don't talk about it much, but at least once a day, amidst the joy I feel in raising my son, I feel a profound sadness in knowing that I won't get to experience pregnancy again and every first I experience as a mother will also be my last. And then I feel guilty for feeling that way and try to repress my feelings. I get it. I understand.

  16. This journey takes so many twists and turns. It is different for everyone and you feel how you feel. But as usual, I'm glad to read your thoughts and walk with you.

  17. Welcome back! I think it's incredibly important to be honest with ourselves and with others about where we are in our journeys. I look forward to reading more...


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