November 28, 2009

A Woman in Waiting

Posted in Family, fertility, Infertility, Parent, waiting tagged at 4:40 am by Gina Messina

Celebrating Thanksgiving yesterday made it more evident to me than ever that I am in a constant state of waiting.  While of course I am waiting to finish my PhD and I am waiting for my career to officially begin, what I am truly waiting for is family.  Holidays are a time for family and being so far away from home has left me feeling a little lost.  This Thanksgiving my dad flew in to spend the week with me and my husband and we spent the holiday in a restaurant with my brother and his wife.  Our family time consisted of two hours together over a meal someone prepared while missing their own family.  I found it terribly depressing and longed for the days when I was a child and Thanksgiving was a time where nothing else could interrupt the family bond.

I remember as a child waking up on Thanksgiving morning and watching the parade on television with my brother and sister while my mom baked her famous cheesecake and pumpkin pie.  She would always give us each a slice right out of the oven…although they were meant to be chilled desserts to this day there is nothing quite like the taste of my mom’s warm pumpkin pie.  Then we would spend the day at my grandparents with aunts, uncles, and cousins…often with our own football game being played in the front yard.

Today, my mom is no longer with us.  I miss her dearly and cannot remember what the last holiday we spent together was like.  I keep waiting for my grief to end, for my every move to not focus on what it would be like if mom were here.  I wonder if having children will allow me to carry on family tradition in my own way and heal some of the wound I feel so deeply in my heart.  However, dealing with infertility has left me waiting for a child.  I have waited for round after round of fertility treatments to work, I wait month after month hoping for a miracle and wonder if there is any end in sight of this cycle that has left me in limbo. 

Of course I truly appreciate that I spent this holiday with my dad, my brother, sister in law, and my wonderful husband.  I just feel like something is missing from my life and my sense of family.  There really is not anything like the mother child bond and I desperately need to have that in my life.  And so I am waiting, waiting for my grief to lessen, waiting for a child to love and teach the value of family, and waiting for a sense of family that nurtures my soul the way it did when I was a child.

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October 29, 2009

The Kids Shaped Spleen Hole Inside Me

Posted in Family, fertility, kids, Mother, mothering, Parent, sexuality tagged , , , , , at 9:52 am by Eostre

ella and me

Me holding my wonderful niece when she was just over a month old

There are few things in my life that I am absolutely sure of right now. One of them is that I don’t want kids. This is a fairly new thing. For most of my life I thought I wanted kids, not because I really did, but because I didn’t know it was okay to not want them. During this past year, when I finally figured this out, it was a major revelation for me. I think I can look to that discovery as a turning point in my recent life, a shift from the person I was to the person I am becoming. I don’t know why this realization has taken on such importance for me, but in my mind I have tied the me who wanted kids to the me who was stuck trying to fulfill what I thought a Good Christian Girl was supposed to be. Sure, I wanted a career too, but I definitely (even if I didn’t admit it) wanted a husband and family too. It was what I was supposed to want, and it was what I was taught I had to have to be valuable.

Like so many things from my Evangelical past, the idea that I should want kids (and a husband) has been kind of hard to shake. Even now, when I know that that is something I don’t want, I still feel guilt over those feelings. So many people think that not wanting kids is unnatural, somehow, for a woman. I mean, it’s not that I am not maternal, and I do really like kids (at least for a set period of time), and I am, usually, a very loving person who likes to take care of people. I have a 13-year-old nephew and a 7-month-old niece both of whom I love to distraction, but I am content being an aunt and not a mother.

I refuse to be defined by my past and where I come from. Yes, I am still dragging a huge net full of baggage behind me, but I am shedding it, piece by piece. And realizing that I don’t want kids was a huge step. I do not want to live the life that someone else thinks I should, I have tried that and it doesn’t work. I am figuring out who I am and what that means, and realizing that I don’t want kids was like finding a part of myself and fitting it inside me, like a missing spleen; one more piece to fill up the new me after I have emptied out the old. I’m not sure of much right now, but every new thing I figure out is a treasure, and knowing that I don’t want kids puts me one step closer to knowing who I am, and what I do want, and that is invaluable to me.

October 27, 2009

9 Months Later…

Posted in birthing, mothering, Parent, Relationships tagged , , at 5:04 am by LadySophie

As a 34 year old woman, I realized recently that my “clock is ticking” for birthing children. I have always liked kids and imagined I would have my own. I do not have that burning desire that I see in so many of my friends – the deep need to be a mom. I always figured that I could adopt if I marry too late. Should I feel so ambivalent about something so important?

The closest experience I have had with my own children is the birth of my nieces. They are twin girls (one has my name!) and they are about to turn 8. I remember the night they were born. I was driving to Dallas for a conference when I got the call. I diverged from my path and drove to Austin instead. After a few hours and surgery, we had twin girls. Right then and there – my life changed.

Driving on to Dallas later, I knew that my life would be worthwhile if I could influence and be a part of their lives. No other great thing in life would matter, as long as I could have that role in their lives. I wept the whole way to Dallas. I love them with a passion and would do anything for them. If they just call me Tia – they can have almost anything they ask.

I have done lots of birthing in ministry. An Asian youth camp grew from 100 to 300 in four years. Timid middle school students became capable leaders as a result of concentrated effort and time. Right now, I am birthing a dissertation. I have a 9-month plan on my wall – ironic it would be exactly 9 months.

I am serious about a man with a 9 year old son. What would it look like for me to be a step-mom? It seems like the perfect plan for this ambivalent woman. I don’t think I have missed the boat. I am not worried about the “clock”. What I have learned is that there are so many people in need of love and I have it to give. That will be my impact. That will be the result of my life’s work – the love I have to give.

October 23, 2009

Infertility: Have you tried standing on your head?

Posted in Family, Genesis, Infertility, Matriarch, Mother, mothering, Parent, Relationships, Sarah in Genesis tagged , , , , , , at 7:22 am by Gina Messina

infertility

In Gen 16: 1 it reads “Now Sarah, Abraham’s wife, bore him no children.” The simplicity of this statement fails to communicate the complicated and devastating situation Sarah faced. The woman who became the matriarch of the Judeo-Christian tradition was barren, unable to fulfill the one duty that gave her worth within her community. With no understanding of biology, infertility was viewed as a curse by Jewish culture and as the fault of the woman. While women were already devalued by society, the social status of a woman struggling with infertility was even further diminished.

Sarah is a woman I have come to identify with. I share her plight of infertility and feel a hopelessness that can only be understood by women in a similar situation. Like Sarah I have been desperate to become a mother and although it is the 21st century, as a woman I have felt pressure to do so. Feelings of inadequacy and lack of worth have been overwhelming at times as family members and friend have felt it necessary to not only acknowledge my struggle but also offer commentary on what exactly they think my problem is.

It is difficult to describe the rollercoaster of emotions I have experienced in the last eight years that I have hoped to become a mother. I have felt sad, angry, hurt, disgusted, fearful, relieved, cheated, optimistic, disappointed, remorseful, irritated, exasperated, hopeful, punished, envious, despair, confused, indifferent, tormented, guilty, nervous, surprised, stressed, appreciative, resentful, bitter and the list continues. While societal pressure has certainly added salt to my wound, the most difficult part of dealing with infertility has been my unwavering knowledge that I a meant to be a mother; there is a child that is meant to grow in my womb, a child that I am meant to nurture and love. I intuitively sense it, it must happen, it is fate, I feel it in the depths of my soul, I am a mother, it is who I am. So why have I been unable to conceive? Why are so many other women privileged with the ability to choose whether or not to become a parent and why have I not been blessed with that same choice?

I have continually struggled with these questions as well as with the highs and lows of the infertility roller coaster. Recently my husband and I have come to the decision to adopt (which warrants numerous blog posts in itself). While we have felt a multitude of emotions (which of course excitement is one) over our decision; the people in our lives have felt it necessary to share their own thoughts on what we have been experiencing. I have been amazed, shocked, horrified, by some of the things people feel it is appropriate to say to me given my struggle to get pregnant. Thus, I feel it necessary to share here some things that you should avoid verbalizing if you know someone dealing with infertility. So for what it is worth, here is my personal top ten list of things you should NOT say to women dealing with infertility (all things that have been stated to me):

10. “Wow, you are so lucky your husband has not divorced you. Most men would not tolerate a woman who could not give him a child.”

9. “Why would you waste so much money on adoption when you could just spend a little more on invitro and have a baby of your own?”

8. “Why not just let me carry a baby for you?”

7. “If you are going to adopt you better make sure you don’t get a kid that is a lemon.” (Yes, a lemon as in if you bought a car with a lot of problems you would describe it as a lemon.)

6. “Oh, your adopting…well I hope you stay within your own race.”

5. “Are you sure you are having sex on the right days? Are you using the right positions?  Maybe you should do some research on the internet.”

4. “It is hard enough to love your own kids, are you sure you will love one if you adopt it?”

3. If a woman struggling with infertility mentions she may try artificial insemination don’t say “Are you really sure you want your child to be conceived that way? I mean, don’t you want it to be conceived out of love?”

2. “You just need to relax.” (What exactly does this mean? I am not sure myself but it is the one quote I have heard more times than I can count. Apparently, if I  just relax and stop worrying about it, a pregnancy will magically occur.)

1. “Have you tried standing on your head?”

I hope the list gives rise to thought offering humor in some areas and anger in others. I am not sure where my continued struggle with infertility will take me, but for now I am a mother. Although I may not yet have a child, I mother other areas of my life, with my partner, my family, my friends, my research, this blog.

For more information on infertility see:

http://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/infertility.cfm

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/infertility/DS00310

http://myinfertilityblog.wordpress.com/