On Thanksgiving Day I was forced (yes, forced) to reveal my Alternate Path to my family. My Alternate Path is the next step in my journey towards motherhood should my Current Path not lead me to my destination. My Alternate Path is something very personal to me. It took a lot of crying, a lot of soul searching and a lot of researching before I became happy (and actually excited) about my Alternate Path. But I was only going to reveal my Alternate Path if I needed an Alternate Path. I still have one more cycle and I am praying that this is it. I am praying that I won’t need an Alternate Path. I am praying that the Current Path leads me to motherhood!
“I would never be content or happy not being a mother at all…”
I read those words on S.I.F.’s blog and they have been ringing in my ears ever since. My heart embraces those words. Those words hit home because I know that the same holds true for me. I know that becoming a mom is a “non-negotiable”. It was in that moment, that moment when I read and re-read those words, that I realized I needed a solid Alternate Path. I needed a new path in case the one I was on ended at a dead end. I figured the best way to move past the pain that I may never carry my biological child or the pain that I may never be pregnant again was to have a solid path laid out in front of me. I needed a solid path to motherhood and that is what I have been doing for the last month. I have been finding my way. Finding my path. And if it’s my way and if it’s my path, don’t you think I should be the one to tell people?
I made the mistake of including my sister, Sissy L, in discussions about my Alternate Path. I brought up the topic of my Alternate Path to V when we were out to dinner. Sissy L was with us. I included her. I didn’t think that my sister would tell others. Now I did not state that my Alternate Path was top secret so in that respect it is my fault. I just didn’t realize she would take my Alternate Path and make it her topic of conversation but I should have known better. Ever since we were little she’s tried to retell my stories and when she does they never seem to come out right. I can only image how she butchered the tale of my Alternate Path. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not mad at her. I just wish that it was me telling my friends.
But either way, it doesn’t matter. She revealed my Alternate Path and now my Alternate Path was out there! Close friends knew. Friends that I wish I was the one who told but instead my sister did. I had to reveal my Alternate Path because others knew and my mom would be so upset if she wasn’t told by me.
* Lyrically, the bridge is typically used to pause and reflect on the earlier portions of the song or to prepare the listener for the climax.
So I knew Thanksgiving Day would be the perfect time to reveal my Alternate Path to the rest of the family. I tried to avoid bringing up the topic of my Alternate Path by leaving information about it directly dead center on my coffee table. I figure one of them, my mom or my other sister, Sissy M, would point it out and say “Michaela, what’s this?” but nooooo, the giant elephant just sat in the room the whole time. And Sissy L kept making side comments the whole time. It was like she had Alternate Path Tourettes! Spurting out random words here and there! Till finally the moment came when I started to tell everyone what my Alternate Path is if my next cycle doesn’t work. And as soon as I started to tell the tale my mom cuts me off and says: “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there” and I looked at her and said: “I can’t do that. I can’t do that knowing that the bridge might collapse underneath me. Knowing that I can be dropped into the darkest abyss without some way out, I can’t. I can’t cross that bridge when I get there.” I know my mom is just trying to protect me by avoiding talking about it. If we all act as if it’s not there maybe it will go away and then we won’t have to face the giant “What if” staring right at us. But it won’t go away because there is a very real chance that this next cycle won’t work. There is a very real chance that I might never carry a child but there is no chance that I won’t become a mother. So I told my family my Alternate Path. They all embraced it.
This is my journey to motherhood. No matter what path I end up taking, no matter how many bridges I need to cross I will in the end be a mom. I need my Alternate Path. Right now my Alternate Path is my security blanket. It's a way to protect my heart. And in planning my Alternate Path it is my time to pause, reflect and prepare for the climax.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
If the only prayer you said in your whole life was "thank you," that would suffice. ~ Meister Eckhart
My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. It always has been. For me it’s the one day in the year where you can just put everything aside, breath, relax, look around and say “thanks”. I am by nature a grateful person. I embrace this holiday. I treasure it and I live by it. But I am having a hard time…
I’m having a hard time letting all the things I am grateful for and all the things I am thankful for easy the pain of what I am missing.
Every night I thank God for all the good things in my life. Every night. Not just on Thanksgiving. And I am truly grateful. I am truly thankful. But that doesn’t close the hole. It doesn’t easy the pain. It doesn’t heal the wound.
So on this day as I count my blessing, celebrate the day and laugh with my family, I will put aside the hole in my heart, breath, relax, look around and say "thanks"!
Thursday, November 18, 2010
I’ll be the 1st to admit that when someone starts talking about Jesus as their savior and quoting the bible my 1st reaction is a giant eye roll. It’s an unstoppable reflect. I don’t know why. I believe in God and Jesus. I respect all religions. I don’t mean to be cynical. I try to think back and I try figure out what has made me this jaded that I would roll my eyes at the Lord’s words and I have nothing. (*Actually I just rolled my eyes at typing that phrase “The Lord’s words”). I guess it evokes mental images of the extremes. Extremes you are only exposed to with age because I don’t recall sitting in church when I was little and rolling my eyes. When I was little I would go to church with my grandmother. She was a deacon in her church. Church was a place of utmost respect. She always made you stand up straight and sit up straight. You had to sit with your ankles crossed and your hands folded on your lap. There was no acting up. There was no fussing and there was no fidgeting. If you fussed, if you fidgeted or if you slouched you got a pinch on your leg. A good pinch! I guess it was an old fashioned form of shock therapy delivered with a stern scowl by Grandma H. But it worked. There you were drifting off into space, starting to slouch and PINCH! Or if you started fidgeting, tapping your foot, playing with your hands: PINCH! It got to the point where if Grandma H just slightly moved you automatically became erect and still in your seat.
And my respect for the church was evident this Sunday when I returned to church for the 1st time after my miscarriage. Now mind you, I am not a regular "church goer", but I didn’t go into church rolling my eyes. Although I do find the whole shaking of everyone’s hands and saying “The Peace of something or other be with you” a little corny, I am not checking out the backs of my eyelids when Pastor Don reads the scripture. I listen intently. I sit up straight with my ankles crossed and my hands folded on my lap. But then again Pastor Don doesn’t just drone on and on reading passage after passage from the Bible. He reads one or two small passages and then goes into how they pertain to life with amusing stories, funny anecdotes etc. all relating back to the lesson of that scripture. I don’t know if all Pastors/Reverends/Priests do this. I don’t recall if Reverend L did this when I was little but then again I was too busy focusing on sitting up straight, crossing my ankles, folding my hands on my lap and not fidgeting. Doing all of that and in my mind trying to finding a way to do it while sleeping! So at church today when I would feel myself slouch I would sit up straight, cross my ankles and fold my hands on my lap. When I would start to fidget I would sit up straight, cross my ankles and fold my hands on my lap. I was not rolling my eyes. So, if anything church makes me sit up straighter!
I will admit that I am not “up to date” on the proper rituals of the church. This was evident when I went to a Catholic Church for the first time with my ex Sio for his Aunt’s funeral and thought that the kneeler was a footrest. Yup I asked him, in the middle of the funeral, if he would like me to put the footrest down. And with a look of confusion and then amusement he goes: “What?” and I said: “The footrest…would you like me to put the footrest down?” and through his laughter he says: “It’s a kneeler. You kneel on it to pray!” So, of course now as I look around the church I notice several women kneeling and praying. We laughed. We laughed out loud in church but continued to pray! And I never felt like rolling my eyes once that day. But then again the whole sermon was in Spanish so I had no idea what the priest was saying.
Even 2 years ago when my beloved Grandma H passed away and my sisters, cousins, aunt, mom and myself were sitting in church, the same church Grandma H brought me to when I was little, I didn’t feel jaded by God’s words. I felt at home. Right at home considering that my sisters, my cousins and I burst out laughing in the middle of the church. The Reverend was preparing to start the service and he went to move the collection plates out of the way. As a joke he passed the collection plate to my sister M. The looks, and I say looks because her face went through a couple of emotions in about a minute, were hysterical. First she was like “Oh” and she starts looking in her purse for money and then her face was kind of pleading like “someone give me some money” and then it went to anger like “How dare you ask for a collection at my Grandma’s funeral” and then the Reverend let her off the hook and said with a smile “I’m just kidding” and we lost it. Burst out laughing until my Aunt N yells “Girls! We are in a church!” I felt at home. So, why do I have this unstoppable reaction to roll my eyes …
And church isn’t the only place I do it. I roll my eyes at sappy songs. I find Rascal Flats way too whiney for my tastes. You’re a bunch of guys. Quit whining and act like a man! And I truly want to throw Celine Dion overboard every time I hear that song from the Titanic.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not without feelings. I bawled my eyes out several times during Homeward Bound when the dogs and kitty cat get lost and are trying to find their way home. I cried like a baby when ET’s heart light started glowing beneath the clear plastic, alien body bag.
So what is it? What constitutes my eye roll?
Do I direct my cynicism to certain aspects of my life because it reflects areas in my life where I’ve been burned? That is a justifiable assumption. I’ve been burned more than once in love and God and I are still working on some serious burns.
Maybe being cynical is really a protection reflect? If I keep everything at arms distance in the “seeing is believing” mode I won’t get crushed when it doesn’t come into my view.
And if I get burned on my last IVF cycle will I then become cynical about A.R.T or older woman trying to have babies? Will I roll my eyes at their stories instead of providing my insightful (and witty) advice?
If I do not get pregnant, if I never carry a child will I forever be jaded and cynical about pregnancy and birth? Will I completely lose myself in anger and resentment?
I like who I am. I like that I can find humor in trying situations. I like that I can celebrate and rejoice. There is actually a part of me that doesn’t want to move forward. That doesn’t want to do this last IVF cycle because I’m afraid. I’m afraid of falling over the edge. Over the edge of cynicism.
Will I be able to laugh, celebrate and rejoice or will I be rolling my eyes?
*Note the church in the picture is the First Presbyterian Church of Stanhope NJ. The church that Grandma H would bring me to when I was little.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
When I was little I used to play softball. I played on the Little League team and then played well into my teens. Anyone who plays softball knows that feeling of striking out. When strike three either whizzes past you or you swing and miss, its defeat. It’s even a greater sense of defeat when the game is on the line. Runners are in scoring position, the pitcher winds up and…bam…strike 1. Now your heart starts to race. You tell yourself its okay, you have 2 more chances. You wait for the perfect pitch and there it is. You swing. You miss. Strike 2 and it’s all on the line. One more strike and you are out. Game over. It’s pressure. It’s a lot of pressure and you are out of chances. How will it end? Will you watch the perfect pitch whiz past you? Will you swing the bat and miss or will you hit it out of the park? When I used to play softball at one time or another, I did all three. And although sometimes I struck out, I also knew that I could get a hit. My fear of the strike out didn’t overwhelm me. But there was one place that it did.
My overwhelming fear of the strike out didn’t come to me on the softball field. My fear of striking out showed up in my own backyard. My childhood friends and I used to play Whiffle ball in my backyard and there was one friend who when he pitched I could NEVER hit off of him! And that pitcher was cousin Bb. Yup cousin Bb struck me out every time. He wasn’t really my cousin. He was my childhood best friend LL’s cousin but I called him cousin anyway. I did that with all her cousins. I don’t know why initially I couldn’t hit off cousin Bb, maybe it was a childhood crush or the fear of embarrassment was too strong but there I was: strike 1, strike 2, strike 3 YOU’RE OUT!! Each and every time. And always at the hands of cousin Bb. Cousin Bb even gave me a nickname. Yup, I was called Whiffer! And the longer this went on the more terrified I became of batting against cousin Bb. There were games that if cousin Bb wasn’t pitching, when I got up to bat he would run to the mound (with the chant of Whiffer rising up through my yard) and 1, 2, 3 strikes I’m out and then trot back to the position he was playing. Just like that boom. The more this went one, the greater the fear became.
I’m down to my last IVF cycle. I was sure when I bought the 3 cycle package that I would hit it out of the park by my 2nd try. After my 1st failed IVF I was okay. I had 2 more chances. But now, now I have 2 strikes and the pressure is on. The fear is rising. I have 1 more chance and I can either hit it out of the park or swing and miss. I am terrified. It’s pressure. It’s fear. Which could be followed by the ultimate defeat and it’s in my own back yard. Am I destined to become Whiffer again? I am praying hard that cousin Bb isn’t pitching. I’m praying hard that Whiffer doesn't return.