Expectant musings

Part 1:

One of the four Noble Truths in Buddhism (roughly) is that the cause of suffering is desire: wanting what we do not have now, thinking that some thing outside ourselves is the way to gain happiness. I can certainly attest that desiring a baby fruitlessly has led to considerable suffering for many of us who are ttc or tt-adopt. It’s hard to find balance between the usefulness of desire in acting as a springboard for forward movement and the detrimental pain that desire causes. So now that Joey and I have babies on the way, I expected that this monster of desire would be satiated for a time. In the absence of soul-eating desire, I expected to find myself happy….and I am happy. But I suppose I expected to find myself in a magical state of being where would I would ceaselessly grin from ear to ear . The reality does not match my romantic expectations.

The story: last night, the nursery I painted and trimmed was finally completely dry and paint-fume-free. Joey and I decided to assemble the cribs. Cue the Dis.ney music in my mind. I expected that we would think lovingly about the babies and we would be wrapped in a sense of great love and excitement. We were excited. We did laugh. But somewhere in the middle of the construction project, Joey ran to the bathroom for a quick vomit. We also had several difficult points when the crib parts would not fit together properly…. normal irritations. We enjoyed the task and the results but there was no…..magic. No one cued the rainbows or the star dust. It was just a normal evening: nice, pleasant but less than the charmed event I anticipated.

I think a lack of magic is the thing I have noticed most about having babies on the way. Things are great. We are blessed to be having an uneventful pregnancy and truly I give thanks for that fact every single day. Buuuut, there are tasks to do, clothes to wash, stuff to buy, closets to clean out, trash to take away in the purging, healthy dinners to cook, pets to care for, and etc. In all those 3 years of dreaming, I imagined the fun parts: looking at the belly, rubbing the belly, attending dr visits, loving the ultrasounds, decorating, planning, naming. My mind seems to have glossed over the more tedious bits of pregnancy. I am betting motherhood will be a similar experience: that we dream now about all the loving happy moments and gloss over the laundry, tired nights, crying and etc. Perhaps pregnancy is good practice for being a parent– at least in the sense of learning to let go of desire and want to be able to stay in the moment to fully experience what is rather than what I assumed would be.

As though the Universe needed to reinforce the reminder I had last night, I present the story of today: Joey and I went to find and buy some maternity p@nties today. This is not an easy task in our small town! In the midst of our irritation, we decided to detour into a children’s clothing store. They had everything on sale. Despite the sensible admonitions of mothers in the know, we could not resist sale-priced newborn outfits. We laughed and shopped for an hour. We shocked and frightened the sales clerk as she slowly realized that “we” were preparing for babies (always fun). We chose soft unisex outfits with feet in the shape of ducks, monkeys, dogs and the like and we chose a set of matching newborn outfits (because we need at least a couple of dressed-alike pictures).  I walked into the children’s shop with ZERO expectations and Joey and I had some of the best times of the pregnancy so far. We got back to the car where we held hands like new lovers. 

Part 2:

Another blogger and I have been having a conversation about our therapy experiences: we have both noticed that many therapists just cannot handle the truth of the infertility experience. I expect that the general public will want to put a happy “all’s well that end’s well” spin to my infertility but I have always hoped that therapists could do a better job hearing about that level of experience and hurt. I am at a place where I can accept my lot in life. My body doesn’t let embryos snuggle in for the long hall. That sucks. Period. But I still get to be a mom and that is an enormous consolation prize. Sometimes parts of life hurt and aren’t fair. I accept that as part of the terms to being human.

The story: I was on the phone with a friend of mine who is also a therapist. She is the queen of self-inflicted drama. Truly she wrecks her life frequently in some of the most spectacularly bad ways I have ever seen. She never lacks the words to talk about how it sucks that this person or that person doesn’t love her anymore as a result of actions she should have known better than to take in the first place. I was touched that she mentioned my infertility even as we were having a conversation about Joey’s pregnancy. I said, “yeah, it sucks that I can’t get pregnant.” She brought it up and yet she said, “no, it doesn’t suck. At least Joey can get pregnant.” Cue my blood boiling. I am happy that Joey is pregnant, I have not grieved my non-pregnancy the way I thought I would but I can assure anyone who wants to listen than infertility.really.does.suck. It sucked yesterday. It sucks today. It sucks tomorrow and it will suck in 45 years as well. But I am still happy. I still see the silver lining (that my partner can carry a baby) and I still accept the terms of this world.  We all suffer.  In reflecting on why my friend needs me to view my life differently than I do, I keep getting an image of her running away from this pain and that pain- Always seeking pleasure and running from the hard stuff- never finding that calm state of equilibrium we are all seeking. I suppose I have answered my own question. I think people (and therapists) feel much more comfortable with the mirage of complete happiness than with the truth of a happiness, imperfectly achieved through hard work, grief and re-arranged expectations.

And I leave you with the words of those great gurus, the Indigo Girls: “the hardest to learn is the least complicated.”



Filed under the p word, twins

14 responses to “Expectant musings

  1. Claire

    You are an awesome writer and philosopher, lady!!!! Yes yes yes! You are so right about pregnancy not being a hallmark card! I have been coming to terms with that too. I think you’re right thst motherhood will be a lot like that – except the reward for all the hard work will be two amazing babies! Yes it’ll be hard as hell but we hope those smiles and kisses will make it feel magical.
    I would have loved to have seen you gals shopping and the store clerk’s face as she realized you are both the mommies!
    And as for your friend / therapist – what is up with her denying you your feelings and your reality!??
    That sounds like an interesting conversation you are having about therapy as an infertile woman and how therapist deal with it.
    I know mine gets the heartache and endless disappointments and is proud of my persistence and resilience. That means a lot to me. I have thought I would like to work in that field myself – although I think sometimes I just want to forget all about my infertility. Is that bad?
    Does Joey have a belly yet? You gals Are really ahead if the game – you already painted the nursery and put the cribs together – wow! I’m impressed! Great to hear how you are doing – I missed you!

  2. leave it to the IG to sum everything up beautifully!

    i too am impressed that you are making such strides on the nursery and cribs!

    i found part I of this post very interesting (and very true). life goes on after IF, including the hard parts. while in the midst of ttc, you definitely do begin to romanticize life after the bfp. and when you want to complain about those rough parts post-bfp, you feel like you shouldn’t — like the joy of the bfp should overshadow all else.

    anyhow, its late and im not making sense, so i’ll just say that i am glad you have found some of those rainbows & sunshine moments while shopping [and sign off and go put myself to bed!!] 🙂

  3. I was very, very happy during my twin pregnancy after IVF, but I don’t think there were many magical moments, at least not in the same degree or of the same type that I had anticipated. Instead I just felt very cheerful. I was funny, too — my sense of humor came back stronger than ever, and I was constantly joking.

    It wasn’t until the final weeks that I began to feel very emotional (although D. might disagree here!). The standout example is when we visited my parents, who live 4 hours away, at the beginning of the third trimester, and I realized that the next time I visited, I would be a parent, too. Cue the tears!

    I went to an IF counselor for about 9 months, and sometimes I thought that even she was a little obtuse. She was an adoption social worker first and foremost, and she didn’t have much up-to-date information on ART. She was also childfree by choice. But when I look back on that experience, I think the real difficulty was that I saw her once a week or once every 2 weeks, and a 2-week period is so significant while TTC: waiting for AF, waiting to ovulate, waiting to test. So my moods were constantly fluctuating and I felt that I wasn’t able to make much progress.

    I think, also, that counselors and social workers see so much of the negative side of parenting, childhood, and family life, which might make some think deep down that the inability to conceive isn’t the worst thing that can happen.

  4. CJ

    Sometimes the biggest magic is found in the most unexpected and mundane tasks! Hope you post pictures of the nursery!

  5. Danielle

    Great Post!

    I suspect those dreams of what pregnancy may entale and the aspiration of magical moments are sometimes what’s needed so we can keep moving during the challenging times. There have been a number of occassions through pregnancy and beyond where moments haven’t fully lived up to expectations. But the best parts are when the unexpected moments go beyond our wildest dreams.

    Happiness is something that one certainly has to not just work for to achieve, but something that has to be worked on to maintain. Fret not my friend, life is good and you’re hitting all the same milestones that many of us have had to face in life after infertility. They can be hard to admit sometimes, but that’s what makes us appreciate everything a little more.


  6. On things that suck: I totally get it. I have a beautiful baby. Yet it sucks that I can’t manage to breastfeed him. Even though he will grow up strong and healthy, it sucks that he’s doing it on cans of freaking powdered formula.

    On lack of magic: Had to chuckle a bit because I went through the same thing. Oh, it’s all lovely and sweet, but no magical dust. And to bring it home, I’ll offer you my best secret: fels naptha soap for cleaning poop out of baby clothes. The most non-magical thing ever is me, standing in the laundry room, scrubbing a yellow poop stain with a bar of fels naptha! 🙂

    But I’m glad you both had fun shopping…it’s close to magical!

  7. poppycat

    I have a feeling the magic comes after all is said and done, you know, when you look back AFTER the babies are born and remember that day putting together the crib or shopping for those clothes. I had to giggle at your observation of how lackluster it all is because I had the same feelings while we were at the stage you are at. Things have become more magical as time has moved on and this becomes more real but yes, that damn laundry is still there waiting and there still isn’t enough money in my account or time in my day. I agree this is a time of training for parenthood of sorts.

    As for the infertility, your right, it sucks. It’s never going to stop sucking. It will be part of you for the rest of your life no matter how amazing and magical your life is. Your infertility lives in one compartment of you and the fact that you are a parent to two children lives in another compartment. They are not interchangable nor can one joy make up for the void and hurt the other left behind. Infertility is your truth. Being a mother to your children, the ones your partner carried, is also your truth. Both are valid and deserving of honor and recognition.

  8. em

    Hey hon
    I know what you are saying about therapists… being one and having experienced first hand the annoying journey of having to educate therapists on the labyrinthine experience that is infertility.

    It is so nice to read about you and Joey and your planning. It makes me happy to read about this after your pain for so long and I find it difficult that your friend couldnt just let you sit with the duality of individual pain/loss and collective joy at the expectant birth. It cant be that hard can it? .Apparently so.

  9. You always write the most thought provoking posts.

    I know what you mean about assuming there would be more unicorns and rainbows. I went through a rough time for a few weeks, when I felt so guilty about not feeling ecstatic 24/7 like I thought I would prior to TTC. It’s hard to feel that way when you’re sick, cranky and tired, and you still have to deal with the every day problems that you had before there was a baby on the way.

  10. Cindy, this is a brilliant post. You have once again captured really perfectly (almost eerily) something that I’m grappling with. I’ve been in a somewhat pessimistic/grumbly place lately and last night at therapy I was talking about how much it would suck if we have to switch to me. I basically said it would suck if we switched and I had trouble and it would suck if we switched and it was easy for me to get pregnant – both scenarios would carry a considerable potential for pain for Fern and I like to keep pain away from Fern as much as possible. My therapist said that she’s sure that if we had to switch and I got pregnant right away that Fern would be thrilled because what we want is a baby and a baby would be coming. And I got so upset and what you wrote above articulates far more eloquently what I tried to say next. A pregnancy for either of us would be a joy but at this point it’s inevitable that that joy would sit next to pain. A pregnancy will not erase the last 2.5 years. An extra uterus in the house is indeed a blessing but it cannot make infertility and its devastation disappear. Infertility has come and it will be with us always. I think my therapist got what I was saying pretty quickly but you’re so, so right. There’s this overwhelming temptation to make a happy ending but that story negates so much truth.

    I’ve thought hard about the Buddhist Truth you cite up above over the last couple of years. To me it rings so true but it’s essentially a paradox. I don’t know how to erase desire from the ttc equation and still be able to sustain ttc. Desire keeps me going. Desire keeps me suffering. Still, it’s really interesting stuff.

    Sorry to take over your comments. Your post was just so thought provoking and well written. I’m happy for the moments of joy you find and I’m sorry for the shadow that still follows you and Joey through this pregnancy.

  11. Very well said, indeed! There is little in life that does not involve both happiness and pain in some way and to gloss over one side or the other would be leaving out part of ourselves.

  12. tbean

    Loved your post. And I get that whole getting to the other side and expecting rainbows and unicorns and instead finding happiness mixed in with laundry and dog walking. It’s a lot like falling in love, right? It is amazing and magical. But then you still have to do the dishes and buy groceries.

    But for me, the magic is always in those tiny moments. And I think those tiny moments are about to start exponentially increasing in the coming moments.

    I’m sorry about your obtuse friend. The pain will never go away and it always hurts when someone tries to deny it from you.

  13. Ahh maternity panties. Those are great things. And yes, infertility does suck and it can be cloud floating around on an otherwise sunny day.

  14. Hey – I’ve just come across your blog, and have only started reading the stuff from this month. I just wanted to say how beautiful a writer you are – the imagery and understanding you spun from the story of your friends phone call is a talent I aspire to. I know, it must seem a little odd to have a complete stranger stop by, and comment on your writing style rather than content – but I hope you get where I’m coming from!

    Wishing you and Joey all the best over the coming months!

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