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Bag lady

Posted Jan 11 2009 5:45pm

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 Kym the Infertile and there is Kym the Mother, and somewhere between the two there is Kym 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 Kym 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.

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