Wednesday, October 8, 2014

At Peace Together, At Last

On Friday I said good-bye to the last of my grandparents; my Nana was age 94.

At 36 I would say I am pretty lucky. I also lost my paternal grandmother this year. Both women lived very long and full lives, but it is never easy to say good-bye. Solace comes when envisioning each of them holding hands once again with my grandfathers. At peace together, at last.

Now closes a chapter of my life that left me feeling somewhat close to my childhood. Spending time with  grandparents as an adult brings you back to your younger days in many ways. My Nana's age and wisdom always humbled me and made me feel child-like in her presence. And now that she is gone, I have moved up in the ranks. My children won't benefit from having the influence of their great grandparents. Therefore, my job became all the more important.

My Nana was one tough lady. We thought she was going to pass away over two years ago. It really looked like the end. So much so that when I found out that I had become pregnant after 9 years of trying, I felt the need to flee to her house as she lay in bed and tell her the wonderful news. Nana was  one of my greatest confidants during a very difficult time in my life; I know she cried many tears as I struggled to get pregnant and thought perhaps I would never be a mother.

Alas, she rallied and saw my beautiful baby days after she was born. She also got to witness her grow and thrive for the first 18 months of her life. I am so grateful to have had that time with her.

Now comes the task of cleaning out her house and possessions. My mother bears most of the burden of this exhausting job. It's so funny how meaningless possessions become once the house is empty of the person who once lived there. The bins of hats and gloves and cupboards of food while full, seem vacant at the same time. There really is nothing more important in life than the ones you love.

I only hope to have the priviledge of caring for my parents as they age. I know it is not an easy task by any means. But I want to have them in my life as long as possible. Watching your parent care for their elderly parents is very humbling. It really reflects how fleeting life is. I have often thought that in a blink of an eye, I will be the caregiver and my children will be there to spend the final years with their beloved grandparents soaking up the memories and reliving their childhoods.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Show Your Face

When Parenthood for Me, Inc. was founded in 2008 there were only a few other organizations that offered financial assistance for adoption or Assisted Reproductive Technology. Throughout the past six years I have seen a few come and go.

I would like to recognize s fellow non-profit named AGC Scholarships and its founder, Aprill Lane. Taken from their "About" page:

AGC is nonprofit group committed to providing both advocacy and scholarships for those struggling with infertility in the United States.

Help put a face to infertility and join AGC's I Am the Face #Iamtheface campaign on Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for all you do and being an ally to Parenthood for Me.

Here we are! Show your face too.


Monday, June 23, 2014

The First 14

We have reached 14 months already. Baby is the same age as Min when he came home from Korea. When I was waiting for him to come home, I was very sad for all that I missed in his development. And now that I have experienced that with Sammie, I wish even more that I had witnessed all the various stages of infancy with my boys. Whenever she would make a milestone, I wondered when they made the same milestone. It is difficult not knowing how and when they started teething, sleeping through the night and crawling. I will not be able to explain to them when they first said a word or took their preliminary steps. There will be many blanks I cannot fill in on their timeline of life. The baby books I provide will start at the time they came home with only a few details of their life in Korea.

There is a chance I can get in contact with their foster mothers at some point. They will be able to share with us what their first 14 and 19 months were like; I hope I can help facilitate this reunion of information for them so they know their story.

As for life with 3 children, busy does not even begin to explain my days. We got through all of the spring birthdays and are now into summertime with activities and mini-vacations.

Here in Western NY we only get about 10 weeks of warm weather, so we are going to enjoy it to the fullest.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

He Had My Heart and That Was Good Enough for Me

One Mother's Day many years ago I ended up having to do an open house. This was a difficult day for me to begin with, but having to work when feeling very sad added an extra element of despair. Other than my own mother I did not want to have to wish anyone a Happy Mother's Day or answer any questions as to whether I was a mother myself.

Turns out that due to an error in a newspaper advertisement regarding the open house date and time, I had to hold this particular listing open both Saturday and Sunday. My client at the time apologized that I had to do an open house on Mother's Day. I felt so bitter.

I kept thinking that if I was actually a mother the way I had hoped to be by then, I would have a good excuse to postpone the open or have someone cover for me. When I entered this client's home that Sunday, there were cards and flowers around the house. I felt tormented sitting in their living room stewing over all my sadness and grief. This was a very similar feeling to when I attended a baby shower or children's birthday party. At least when they were social events I could decline.

After the Sunday open was done my client wished me a happy mother's day. The words stung me like a forceful spray. My mind thought, how dare you? My heart ached for the word's to actually apply to me.

Motherhood was a club I wanted so badly to join. This feeling was not dissimilar to being in school and wishing I was good at sports or had a beautiful singing voice that would land me the lead in the school musical. Hard work would not really make me a great soccer player or give me the immense talent needed to sing those high notes; I may have been mediocre, but that was not enough.

Infertility made me feel mediocre- an underachiever of sorts. And for all the things in my life that I was able to fix with hard work and determination, I simply could not fix infertility.

The first year I celebrated Mother's Day my baby was due to arrive home from Korea any day. He was not in my arms, but he had my heart and that was good enough. However, it was not until the next year after he has been home for almost 12 months that I received the card signed by Daddy and Min.

I have celebrated 6 years of Mother's Days. As we begin to see the commercials on TV and ads on social media leading up to this season, I am reminded of my longing to be a mother. And I think of all the men and women whose sadness is deepened as they have nothing to celebrate and no title to bear. Or those who are missing their babies that never had a chance to live.

Monday, April 21, 2014

National Infertility Awareness Week

It is the time of year to spread awareness and help educate on Infertility.
Visit for more information on support and education. 
While there has been some progress made in bringing the topic of Infertility into the mainstream, there still remains a long road to hoe. Starting with what to say and NOT to say to those struggling to have a family is a good step. Rewording questions or comments or omitting them altogether can ease the burden and pain felt by infertiles.
Resolve's article, "25 Things To Say (and Not To Say) To Someone Living With Infertility" is a great link to forward on to friends and family.
1.Let them know that you care.
The best thing you can do is let your infertile friends know that you care.
As with any difficult situation in life, it can mean the world just knowing that someone is thinking of you and cares about you. They may not be able to fix it, but they can at least offer support and compassion. This can ease even the most unbearable circumstances.
Surround yourself with people who offer positive support and refrain from judgment. Your pain should never be dismissed due to a lack of understanding. The grief of infertility is very real and very debilitating. You deserve to have your feelings recognized.
You will never get over your infertility experience, but with time, you will work your way through it. The answers will come, but it is the waiting that proves most difficult.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Clueless Clutter

Survey Says

Here is some clueless clutter for you in case you needed more evidence of how far we have to go when it comes to infertility and adoption education.

Lori at Lavender writes about the adoption-themed commercial put out by Kay Jewelers. Lori writes," How many adoption ad myths, much general cluelessness can be crammed into a 30-second commercial?"
How many adoption stereotypes ad myths, much general cluelessness can be crammed into one 30-second commercial?
How many adoption stereotypes ad myths, much general cluelessness can be crammed into one 30-second commercial
How many adoption stereotypes ad myths, much general cluelessness can be crammed into one 30-second commercial
How many adoption stereotypes ad myths, much general cluelessness can be crammed into one 30-second commercial
How many adoption stereotypes ad myths, much general cluelessness can be crammed into one 30-second commercial
Read "Every Diss Begins with This Kay Commercial" and view the commercial and share your own thoughts and comments.

Let's interview real people with these experiences to get an idea of who to market to and how to do it in the best way. Better yet, let's not do it in the first place. Adoption is not something you can wrap up in a little box for a 30 second spot on TV.

The second post comes from Mel at Stirrup-Queens.

Mel writes that US News & World Report covered a study last week that found that women who don’t have a child after fertility treatments are three times more likely to divorce than women who do.  27% of the women overall were not living with their partner anymore, though a larger chunk of that 27% were women without children than women with children.

The researchers in Denmark reported that they were surprised by the findings and " that the effect lasted so long.”

*note: The article is no longer found on US News & World Report's website.

Click over to read Mel's entire post, "Researchers are Stunned that Infertility is Stressful"

I should neither be stunned nor shocked that people are surprised that the affects and aftermath of infertility are so damaging. It goes along with the "just adopt" or "you can have my kids! (ha ha)." But it is still upsetting that infertility is so misunderstood. We need to keep writing, advocating and sharing our stories to help make some changes and bridge the gap of understanding between the physical and the emotional side effects of infertility.

*image provided by commons.wikimedia

Monday, February 3, 2014

Rage Against the Addiction

Image courtesy of Lionsgate

The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman hits close to home. He grew up in Rochester, NY living only 25 minutes from my home. He has family here and often returned to his alma mater, Fairport High School. I am sad not only because he was truly a talented man but because he perished so young. There are many news stories circulating about the circumstances of his death being caused by an over dose. Hoffman struggled with addiction for many years.

Yesterday I saw about a half a dozen different news outlet's headlines popping up in my newsfeed. All were saying roughly the same thing- wonderful actor, too young, gentle and kind man. When I began reading the comments posted to the news posts, I was beyond upset and even disgusted at what some people wrote. When someone dies due to addiction, it does not diminish their death or their life, for that matter. I know it is hard for people to understand that even though one can "choose" to begin using a certain drug or "choose" to drink alcohol, what they do not "choose" is the pre-disposed, biological mind-set that puts so many individuals down this path. Addiction is a disease and an extremely sad one at that.

Imagine being so distraught, depressed and even physically ill and dependent on a substance, that it controls your entire life. Who would "choose" that?

I am deeply saddened for this man and his family. My heart goes out to them for having to put up with heartless individuals who will comment on the way he died- judging him. How hurtful that must be when already mourning the loss of your husband, father, son or friend.

The world lost a gifted man too soon. No matter how many times we see this happen in Hollywood, it does not become less sad or thought provoking. It is the gifted people, the inwardly focused and reflective artists who often suffer from mental illness and addiction. They feel very deeply and often struggle with depression; addiction is one way they cope with their mental illness or hard ship. This is another chance for our society to better understand addiction and mental illness- not berate this man for losing his own battle way too young.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

And Now We Say Good-Bye

We said good bye to my grandmother yesterday. She had a long battle with dementia. For those of you who have experienced this illness in your family, you know how hard it is to slowly say good bye to your loved one. Ever so slowly. Each time you see them a little bit more is gone. It is particularly painful to see the light in their eyes fade. Recognition and vitality dissipate until there is almost nothing there but a shell of a person. My grandmother's physical body was extremely healthy. But a wilted spirit will take it's toll on the physical. And finally at age 92 her body gave out and she is now at peace.

I imagine she is laughing with my grandfather again. They are reunited after almost 9 years. She has probably already made a couple dozen friends in her new world. Isabel was always a very social and chatty person. She could talk to anyone, and she always made you feel special. I envision her smiling again with that sparkle in her sky blue eyes. Forever she can be the woman we loved.

I miss her, but I have missed her for years.

She was such a wonderful Grandma. She and my grandfather lived in Arizona all of my childhood. It would have been nice to have them close by, but it was great having such a cool place to visit. My brother and I would go out for a few weeks at a time. Living out west is like being in an entirely new world compared to the north east. We drove through desert towns with huge cactus. We visited rodeos and rode horses. My grandfather had a candy drawer. Yup, an entire drawer. He loved butterscotch candies, chocolate covered raisins and Wherther's Original. We watched the lightning storms on their huge deck that overlooked the entire city. We ate popcorn and peanuts, throwing the shells over the rail of the deck. But mostly my memories consist of being in their home, making the guest room my own and feeling safe and loved.

That is what grandparents are for.

My grandmother never missed an occasion to send a card. Her cursive handwriting very familiar and easy to read. It is the same writing that labeled every gift she ever bought. She loved to catalogue items. Her memories were thick and plentiful. Her labels are a gift in themselves as we find things and realize when, where and who gave them to us.

We named our baby girl after my grandmother's mother. I was told that when my Grandma found out what we named her, she cried with happiness. She always wanted a baby in the family by that name. I was glad I could give that gift to her when so many things that once brought her joy were taken away. Yesterday the baby was in her high chair waiting to be fed, and I felt so grateful for the hope that she offers in this time of loss.  Her life is just beginning and my grandmother's has ended.

I am lucky to have had my grandmother this long. But I am also grateful that her suffering is over and that she died peacefully in her sleep. It is never easy to lose a loved one. It doesn't matter that I am 35 and she was 92. Her life is over and I miss her. I miss all of the things I can't ever get back, and it is hard.

Soon our family will gather together to reminisce and celebrate her life. The photographs have already started to circulate of family get-togethers and special times. I look forward to reliving these memories with the help of my family members. These are the images I will take with me when I am missing she and my grandpa.

May joy and peace surround you,
Contentment latch your door,
And happiness be with you now,
And bless you evermore.
-Irish Blessing


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