Bag lady

Yesterday I was reading Friday's True View conversation on Bridges. The first comment was from Calliope and since I read it, it has been stuck at the forefront of my mind like a neon blue mental Post-it note:

I believe that almost every emotion we feel is a choice. I was in a
situation this week where I instantly wanted to be upset and cry, but I
was able to pause and pull myself out of going to an emotional security
blanket reaction- which for me is getting upset. I realized that I get
upset about a lot of things and that maybe it is something that I *do*.
An hour later the very thing that had made me want to cry turned out to
be something that will end up being very ok. I would have wasted an
entire hour on a useless emotion.

I haven't written as much lately because I really have been extremely busy. But there have been other times within the past two weeks where I've sat here with my waiting fingers perched expectantly over the keys. I've stared into the whiteness of the compose screen…and nothing. It hasn't been for lack of things to say. I have plenty to say. Too much to say. So much, that everything is jockeying for position to get out and it bottlenecks, and my flow of ideas just stops. Nothing makes it out. I know where this constriction coming from, this tightening between the mind and hands which keeps me from letting out all the things I want to say yet can't. I feel like the parts of me that are released through this blog are playing at schizophrenic odds against each other. There is Moxie the Infertile and there is Moxie the Mother, and somewhere between the two there is Moxie the Surrogate Mother. I feel like I am tugged in three directions at once and I have lost a center of focus.

Friday in class I introduced to my students the Six +1 Traits of writing. Several times throughout the lectures I mentioned how it is important to write in a tone and manner that is appropriate to the audience. Quite naturally, my mind wandered to this blog and I considered my audience. We are here, this unfortunate yet fortunate sisterhood of infertiles and lostbaby mamas. No one wants to be here, but we are grateful that we do not have to be here alone. We have people who abide with us. This is where I feel comfortable. I found this community in January and felt like I was home. Here people understood. I'm well past my personal hand-to-hand (or perhaps Clomid-to-ovary) battle with infertility and I have four children. Four? Ouch. I make myself cringe, not because I don't love my children or because I am not grateful, but because I feel that by mention of them, someone somewhere could be reading my words and feel like I have sucker punched them. I cringe on their behalf, not wanting be the salt that is rubbed into their raw wounds.

Rewind – I'm well past my personal hand-to-hand (or perhaps Clomid-to-ovary) battle with infertility and I have four children. Four? HOLY SHIT, I HAVE FOUR CHILDREN!!! And they are quick-witted and bright and funny, and they are the fuel that feeds the fire that is me. I want to dazzle the world with them because they dazzle me (are they really mine?) and their awesomeness is too much to be contained. Then with Frank we are the Cosbys incarnate and HOW GREAT ARE WE? with our sparkling glitter love and humor and chocolate handprints on the wall and Kool-Aid stains in the carpet and smiley face pancakes for dinner and cups of tickles at bedtime and four pairs of bubble eyes to fall into and see myself in.

[and here is where I begin flogging myself because the Infertile Moxie is feeling very guilty that I could maybepossiblyperhaps have just put someone in a very shitty mood because I mentioned my children without the context of infertility, and I honestly feel horrible about it. I am sorry. And I mommybragged! Straight to hell with me.] 

Then as a surrogate mother it feels just plain weird to discuss fucked-up betas and a miscarriage and my intended parents' long struggles with infertility, and then follow it up with "Hey, let me tell you all about this hilariously funny conversation I had with the kids at dinner. It all started when Jaiden farted…."

I'm sure you can see my quandary.

To take it even further, I have been processing yet another layer of this complicated jumble in my mind. It is necessary first to revisit something I wrote a few months ago:

Sometimes, a lot of the time, actually, I feel stuck between two
worlds. I identify more closely with the infertility community, but I
have four beautiful children. Four. The abundance and life
that are they is what it makes it possible for me to feel comfortable,
if not somewhat unbalanced, in the fertile Land of Good and Plenty. I
feel like they are my passport into that world. I am allowed to be there, but I am not from there.
I can speak the language and know the culture, but it's not in my
blood. I sometimes feel like I am a traveler in a foreign land. At
child-focused venues such as birthday parties, playgrounds, and school
functions, I can't help but wonder how many of those children are also
passports, and if they are, I wonder if their parents feel as out of
place – as lonely – as I do.

I've always felt like this feeling of isolation was one of the ways
infertility has marked me, an indelible stain that infertility left
on me as it gave me the finger on its way out the door.

A few weeks back I stumbled onto Anymommy's blog. She emailed me in response to a comment I left for her and told me that she was thrilled and even honored that I left a comment to her, because she had been reading on my blog for months. Being an adoptive mom as one of her first choices to family building, she has great empathy for the infertility which brings other couples to adoption and ART procedures. Stacey went on to explain that she merely lurked and never commented here because having never suffered from infertility, she wanted to remain a respectful distance. It was the first time that I considered how my words here might be viewed by someone outside of our ALI (adoption/loss/infertility) community. I knew exactly how she felt because many times, I keep the same respectful distance when I read some ALI blogs, particularly the loss blogs. Then I realized that to an extent, I was keeping the same respectful distance from myself on my own blog. Not good. It was the first time I truly considered how I might be the creator of this isolation, and not just the handcuffed and unwilling captive. Better yet – the circumstance of the infertility is not something I created and I have no choice in that matter. I do, however, have a choice in how I continue to deal with the emotional residue.

It's this security blanket of which Cali speaks. The isolation might not be a cozy blanket, with its scratchy burlap fabric and inability to keep out the the cold, but though uncomfortable it brings me comfort. It is all I have ever known as a mother after infertility. This baggage is mine and I own it, but I see now that it does not have to own me. The weight of it is heavy, and if I continue to carry it is only because I have chosen to. I have to learn to work through the prickling sense of wrongness I feel when I talk about my children, because there is nothing wrong about it. I can't leave the infertile mind behind; it is already too ingrained into who I am and actually, I believe that I am a better person because of it. But there has to be a balance; I need to learn to feel as comfortable as a mother as I do as a person who had to struggle to be a mother. I am comfortable as a mother, but only as long as I keep it to myself. I hesitate even to talk about my children in public, and do not mention them unless someone first asks me how they are doing. Someone at work even once asked me, "I know there must be a lot of action in your house because you have four kids. Why don't I ever hear you talk about them?"

Uuuhhhh…hmm. She had no clue what a loaded question that was, so I settled for answering with a shrug of the shoulders and a quick conversation redirect.

I believe that almost every emotion we feel is a choice…I
was able to pause and pull myself out of going to an emotional security
blanket reaction…I get
upset about a lot of things and that maybe it is something that I *do*
…I would have wasted an entire hour on a useless emotion.

I can't keep choosing to isolate because it is my comfort zone. There are times and places where isolation is necessary, but it's not all of the time and here within my personal blog is certainly not the place. I can't continue to let the byproduct of infertility cripple me into a finger-tied mute with thoughts that can't make their way out. So, this is me giving the finger right back to that bitch infertility. It took from me the ease of becoming a mother. I'll be damned if I let it continue to take from me the ease of being a mother.

14 thoughts on “Bag lady”

  1. You said it all. I actually see you as an articulate bridge between both worlds, but I can see how that is an uncomfortable role. I’m glad to see you opening up and working it through.

  2. I’m glad you are becoming more comfortable embracing your status as a mother on your blog.
    As a deep in the trenches infertile, I don’t mind reading about children. Especially when it’s from the view point of another infertile that gets it. I know you’ve talked about “the shallow end” but I think you’ve gone a lot deeper by staying connected with this community.
    Not that you need permission, but I look forward to reading more about your fun loving kids. It gives me a little hope and it’s nice to see there are happy endings to this journey. 🙂

  3. Having no children myself, I never realized how hard it must be to carry the feelings of infertility once you “cross over” to the other side. Very well written Moxie – you are so articulate with your feelings.

  4. Thanks for posting about this.
    I’m in a similar place but from/with a different perspective — not the GS stuff (I’m not in that place) but the mothering after infertility place and still very much feeling part of this (the infertile) community. Also, not at all sure that I’m “past” infertility because I want another and for reasons that I won’t go into here (just for brevity) know with certainty that I’m not just going to get lucky — it’s IVF + ICSI or nothing, for me.
    Right. So here I am and then there’s this wonderful little boy who is my son and a goofy, crazy, show-boating little toddler…and I take him out in public and I cuddle him and I kiss him and I play with him. And he flirts with every adult he sees, especially women. I get it. I know that there are infertiles and babylostmamas around me and that they are outraged, depressed, because of me and because of him. And yet, too, isn’t this the most basic message of all our stories…that if you, we, I, are lucky enough to get to have one or more children we should love them with all our hearts and be grateful for every. single. moment. Not that we are all lucky, I know we are not, and that is a terrible, terrible thing. And waiting to find out where you are going to end up and how you are going to get there (and as I say, I am still journeying, but to be honest for now it is a different and a much easier journey for me now than it was before my son was born) is also terrible. But. But. But. If you are lucky — if I am lucky — shouldn’t you — shouldn’t I — be thankful, joyful, about it? Even (though not without awareness) in public, sometimes?

  5. I hear you, Alex. On both the ends of trying for #2 after #1 being difficult, yet easier on some end and also that feeling of wanting to cloak the mother in you a bit in public. You know they’re there but you don’t know where or who, and sometimes I wish I could radiate I GET IT just as much as I could radiate the fact that I am a mom.
    A few weeks ago we were herding the troops into Target. We looked like a gaggle of ducks, with el Cinco in front and Frank and I in the back trying to keep everyone together. A woman looked up at me, then down at the flurry of activity around me. I could almost hear her do the head count as she looked briefly in the faces of each one of the 5 (my nephew included). Suddenly her face crumpled and the tears welled and I just *knew.* Her husband must have sensed what caused the sudden shift because his own look of dejection dawned on his face. He put a comforting hand on her back as she pointedly stared at the floor and quick-stepped past us. The whole encounter couldn’t have lasted more than a couple of seconds but played like slow motion. I felt like shit and wanted to sink into the floor. How many times had I been the one who stared at the floor as I ran the gauntlet of mothers around me?

  6. Moxie,
    Yeah — I often wear the bracelet (wear to make aware), but I know many have no idea what it means, and…yeah. I do announce my infertility whenever I get the chance, but I know that doesn’t begin to cover it.

  7. What a well-written post. I actually would like to thank you. You have helped me understand so much about infertility. One of my best friends went through this and for her own reasons, she could not say much about it. Because of you, I feel like I understand alot more about what she has gone through.
    You are an incredible writer and I look forward to reading a lot more from you, whatever you choose to write about.

  8. You know that I definitely understand where you are coming from. You want to shout at people that say, “You are a baby making machine.” And also share your story with other IFers so they know that even though you have been blessed with a child/children that the journey to get there will never be forgotten and that you do understand what they are going through.
    We’re the middle ones lost between two different worlds trying to figure out if we fit better into one world or the other.

  9. Moxie,
    I think this is such a beautiful post. I appreciate what you’re feeling, and love the way you expressed it. But of course, I want to encouarage you to let your mommy wings fly wherever they can go! We will all be inspired by your mommy stories in whatever form they take! And I’m sure, by doing that, you will never let go of your compassion for others or your feelings about your own experiences.
    I’m not sure when I’m a mom I’ll ever feel comfortable in that room. But I do believe that life is like that in any area where one has suffered. Having a different perspective can be isolating at times, but rewarding, especially when you finally find the other mom in the room who shares yours. They are out there, I know it.
    Thank you for sharing so courageously! And please, tell us the story about when Jaiden farted!!

  10. Oh, and wouldn’t it be cool to have a t-shirt that reads: “You have no idea the shit I went through to build this family.”

  11. excellent post, kym. this is your space — you do with it however you please.
    for what it’s worth, I’ve always appreciated your sensitivity and support.
    and thanks for turning me on to anymommy’s blog too.

  12. My name is Holly Lem and i would like to show you my personal experience with Clomid.
    I am 28 years old. I got preg first time on my own & miscarried. after a while of trying, my dr put me on clomid. after the first round i got pregnant & miscarried. i decided not to try or think about it at all probably for a 9 months… right around the time baby would be due & then started trying again. after a few months got back on clomid. after 5 months and no pregnancy i’m giving it a rest again. it’s to much disappointment. i’m going to give it a try again soon, in the mean time we’re keeping our fingers crossed for the old fashioned way to work.
    I have experienced some of these side effects-
    HOT FLASHES, moody, cry easily, weight gain, headaches etc!!
    I hope this information will be useful to others,
    Holly Lem

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