Monday, April 13, 2009
What I Thought I Couldn't Have
Going through infertility and being scared to death I would never be a mommy, there were so many things I longed to have in my life that went along with parenthood. I wanted all the widgets and gadgets and homemade blankets and cute little socks. It is amazing how much you notice when it comes to something you cannot have. Here's a simple example. My brother had this trike for my niece- the kind with the handle in the back for the parent to steer. He used this as his means of transportation instead of a stroller. He took her out on strolls at the age of one because he found a strap for it so she wouldn't fall off. My parents live 5 doors down from my brother, and every time I turned into my parent's driveway and saw the tricycle parked outside their door I felt a pang of sorrow. It always hurt to see the little bike, especially when she was riding on it. I could not help but ask will I ever get to use a stroller or wagon or trike? Will I ever walk over here with my child?
One day a few years back I was watching my niece, and we were playing in her bedroom. I just could not stop staring at all the cute girly things in her room and how her mommy had decorated it so beautifully. I had been in her room a hundred times, but this time I had a few minutes to sit on her warm fluffy rug and be alone with her. The nursery exuded love and everything childlike- the shelves with the finger puppets and books, the piggy bank, the mobile. I hoped upon hope that I could decorate a room with such love, that one room in my house would be totally and completely for a child to grow up in. That same day I was talking to my niece in her room and reading a book, and I began to cry. I remember holding her tight and crying silent tears into her little neck. Oh, how I loved her.
Turns out the baby monitor was on outside where my brother was playing football with our cousins. One of them came upstairs to usher us outside; I think he was trying to save me from more exposure. They all knew my circumstances. It was weird, but I didn't feel embarrassed that they may have heard me talking and crying with my niece. On the contrary I felt a little relief that I could reveal some of my pain without having to look them in the eye.
I used to buy a ton of clothes for my niece. It gave me hope for some reason. When I saw her wearing something I bought, I felt a greater connection to her. But walking into any store dedicated to babies and toddlers was like knocking the wind out of me; somehow I kept going back for more. As more time passed without a successful pregnancy I stayed away from all places baby, and either went in on a gift with friends or asked my mom to buy something for me. The grief became too much as the years went by and my cloud of sadness never had the ability to lift.
I have wondered since becoming a mom if I notice more things about my life as a parent than those who have not experienced infertility. Do I have a different outlook and heightened sense of awareness of every detail than those who had no trouble conceiving? It is a question that needs no definitive answer. However, it is common perception that those who have suffered do not take things for granted because they have a better understanding of how fragile life is. A cancer survivor probably looks at the beauty of life with more fortitude and grace than I do, and I consider myself very conscientious of living every day to the fullest, expressing my love for friends and family, and understanding that life is precious. However, I do not presume to have any idea what it feels like to face death, to be scared I will not see my children grow up or live to be old and gray with my husband.
What I do know is that I am always aware of the little things that come with parenting. I still smile when I see the bathtub toys strewn across the bottom of the tub. While grocery shopping I happily throw a box of $40 diapers in my shopping cart because I remember walking down that baby aisle with an empty heart just wishing I had a reason to buy a sippy cup or jar of baby food. When I see his 3 pair of shoes in a little pile near the door I heave a sigh of contentment. There are little feet in our house to fit those shoes. Thank goodness.
In celebration of our son’s arrival home from Korea we had a huge party, and we received one of those trikes as a gift. I had to register for it. Seeing my son in the seat smiling and ringing the little bell was my right of passage. A couple of weeks ago Min Man and I trekked down to Grandma and Grandpa's house and I loved watching the tricycle’s brand new wheels get covered in dirt as we rolled down the sidewalk. Once again the pain of infertility slipped a little further from my heart.
Getting to this point in my life has very trying and difficult. Wishing to be parents for four years has left a dent on my soul. There were many, many low moments with each negative pregnancy test and failed medical procedure. Letting go the dream of getting pregnant and having a biological child came with a lot of soul searching. But I am so grateful we were able to move on to adoption and fulfill our parenthood dreams.
Tomorrow when my son wakes up talking to all his Sesame Street animals and gives me a huge grin with his perfect white teeth, I won't remember my ectopic pregnancy or 6 failed IUI's or 3 failed IVF cycles . I will look to the new day as his mommy. I will pick out another cute outfit for him, we will brush our teeth together, eat toast together and laugh and giggle together. We will learn together about loving and being a family.
Posted by Parenthood for Me at 4/13/2009