Monday, December 30, 2013

Random Thoughts Before New Year

1. The Important Letter.

I've sent my mom the letter via my brother (I asked him to print it out). It ended up being a 4-page MS Word document (plus a paragraph on the 5th page). Still no word from her via SMS to me. I imagine it's going to take time for her to bury the dream that she's been having for us. I hope the other half of my letter gave her comfort, because the first half talked about my honest feelings when it came to our infertility journey. It was REALLY hard to write the letter and I was on edge the whole day yesterday while waiting for the response. 

In the end I contacted my brother via YM and asked him how it went. She said that mom had cried. I was so emotional during our chat in YM and I started crying, too. My bro helped explain to her that I wasn't blaming her and that I knew she meant well, but that I'd like to be supported not by her praying about a miracle pregnancy or by her telling me to keep on praying to get pregnant. I have given her more ideas on what to pray on in the letter, so hope that helps, too. My bro said that she must be sad when she read about our struggles and all the feelings that I had during the tough period of our infertility journey. I sent her an SMS yesterday, telling her that I'm thankful to have a mother who prays for me and that I love her and I ask her not to be too sad because we're doing fine.


2. Infertility and Relationships.

Sometimes I feel that infertility is a double-edged sword. When I was preparing to write the letter for my mom, I knew it would crush her, too. I don't want to crush her dream for us, but I felt that it must be done for the sake of our relationship. I began to feel our relationship cracking and I don't want to lose our relationship. I was struggling to try to find a way on how to crush her dream gently and I hope I have succeeded in doing so. 

Other than that, here's also something I wrote weeks ago about infertility and friendship:  

"Infertility is a tricky thing to deal with when you have a pregnant close friend whose pregnancy reminds you of your losses. As much as you'd like your friends to tell you as many parts of their joys and sorrows and as much as you'd like to tell your friends about your joys and sorrows, it's not that easy to figure out the fine line. The fine line where you don't want to burst someone else's happy bubble by telling them that their stories trigger very soft spots within yourself, but then again you wonder if you should let them know about at least some of them because you want them to understand your journey. The fine line where you wonder how much stuff you should tell your friends about your feelings because you fear that they are going to hold back sharing their joys because they don't want to hurt you, but on the other hand you don't want to miss all the lovely moments even if those moments trigger some pain within your deepest self."

It IS a shame that infertility is affecting those around me this way, but I welcome the lessons that it's giving me (and other lessons that it will give me in the future).


3. I found this article via an FB share and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it for so many different reasons so I'd share it here too: Confronting the Lie: God Won't Give You More Than You Can Handle.  

4. A friend of mine gave me this challenge weeks ago and I've finally found my word for 2014. 

My word of the year is “Disentangle”. I need to practise disentangling myself from any emotional connection or baggage so that I can take a step back and celebrate other people’s beautiful moments with them without drowning in grief when their beautiful moments are the ones that acutely remind me of what I will never have. I want to disentangle myself from those heavy weights that make me want to crawl or drown in my grief so that I can stand up and continue my healing journey.

Here's the challenge in case you want to participate: What Will You Choose For Your Word of 2014? 

Last but not least, Happy New Year! Wishing you more peace, comfort, and healing throughout 2014!  
 

glitter-graphics.com

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Peaceful Christmas

We had a peaceful Christmas with MIL as usual (no kids involved). BIL and SIL came over for a while, but then they left to go to the graveyards. We went to the graveyards already before they came for a visit to light some candles in front of hubby's grandparents' and FIL's graves. FIL's grave doesn't have a gravestone yet. 



Before Christmas, I had a "pat my own back" moment. :-D The close friend who's pregnant posted a side view and front view baby bump pics in FB, so naturally the photos garnered lots of lovely comments. In the beginning I wanted nothing to do with it, but then I had an experiment with myself...I took some time to clear my mind, then suddenly a thought occurred, "Hey, what if it's some random acquaintance who's pregnant and it's the first time for her to post the baby bump pics like these for the whole world to celebrate? How would you deal with it?"

I took my time to step back mentally and it worked!!! YAAAAAAAAAAYYYYY!!!! It was like unlatching a mental connection with her so that I could respond in a more neutral fashion. It felt GOOD to be able to mentally step farther away as a way of emphasizing that her experience had nothing to do with mine. *pat on the back* I've shared this with the GW ladies and I received so much warmth from them. It feels nice to have people with whom I can celebrate this kind of victorious moment. :-D

I actually used the trick again just now (FYI I'm having my PMS now) as I almost felt a thump on my chest as she had just posted a photo of herself holding a tiny Christmas stocking with the writing "My first X-mas". For a second there I was thinking, "That could have been me" but then I forced myself to step away mentally again and I could comment on the photo to celebrate the moment with her. Mind you, I think this is easier done because it happens in the internet world***, not face-to-face. I don't know if this trick can be done IRL (in real life) or not, but I'll remember to try it out if I'll ever have the chance to do it IRL.


*** I'm further away in my healing journey, so I also think that's one reason why the trick worked. If we had tried having a baby at the same time and then she had gotten pregnant first whereas we ended up with infertility, I dread to think just how much devastation it could have done to our friendship. 



Thursday, December 19, 2013

An Important Letter

*cross-posted with my other blog*

I'm in the middle of composing an important letter in my head. I'm going to transfer it to text later on. You see, if you're a regular reader, you probably know that we've decided to surrender to life without kids. After spending a few years trying to conceive and thinking that family = husband + wife + a kid (a few kids), it took A LOT of energy and a long winding healing process to finally switch to thinking that a complete family = me + hubby. My huge hole in the heart has dried up and we've been content with what we have (read: meaning on most days, we can focus more on what we have and be thankful for what we have instead of the hole in our hearts, though there are tender moments here and there).

During our infertility journey, I've told my mom succinctly about our decisions and every time she seemed to be supportive. Last summer during our holiday, mom wrote me an SMS saying, "Last year on your birthday I woke up early in the morning and sent a prayer to God so that you'd be pregnant. Instead your SIL got pregnant."

I was shocked when I read that SMS. I told her about our decision to live life without kids already three years ago and back then she said it was a good decision, but last year she was still praying like that? Mind you, I AM thankful that I have a mother who prays for me, but I find that it's rather useless to pray for someone to get something that the person in question doesn't want anymore (that the person in question doesn't even try to get anymore). What's the use for that? I know that I can't control what she hopes for us and I KNOW damn well she means well, but nevertheless I felt sad and upset when I read her SMS. Why? Because what she thinks will make us happier only makes me feel that what we have right now is not enough




The world is already so full of reminders of our losses and we need all the support we get to live the kind of life that we've chosen. In the past I had some guilt over the fact that I couldn't give my parents any grandchildren, but I've learnt to get rid of the guilt...but I haven't actually told her about this kind of guilt. I'm planning to tell her about this guilt so that she knows how hard it was. Choosing this path hasn't been easy and I need all the support I can get. If the person saying those words isn't my mom, I won't even consider trying to explain all these to her/him, but because I'm still going to keep in touch with my mom, I need and want her to understand my situation better.

You see, a few weeks ago I was talking to mom on Skype and she told me that a long-distance relative of hers came for a visit. When the auntie saw my wedding photos, she realized that I had married a foreigner, so she asked my mom the usual stuff (where I live etc.)

Auntie: "Does she have kids?"
Mom: "Not yet, because she postponed it and used birth control pills."
Auntie: "Oh yeah, I also know someone who used birth control pills to postpone having children and after that they had trouble conceiving. They finally had a child after four years of trying."

Again I was shocked when I listened to the story. I know that my mom didn't just tell me this story for no reason. So she was more or less blaming me for the use of birth control pills or postponing having children? And does that mean she still hopes for a miracle pregnancy? 


I'm always thankful to have a mom like my mom and I admire her for many different reasons, but I'm struggling with how to tell her gently about all these things (where do I start, how much should I divulge, etc.?). The reason why I finally thought about writing her all these stuff is because next year we're planning to visit Indonesia and I just don't want to hear these kinds of words coming out of her mouth anymore. These kinds of words don't help us in any way whatsoever. I'm going to take my time in writing this letter out. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy some free days from work! :-) 
 

glitter-graphics.com

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Other Lessons That IF Has Taught Me

The list below is a long overdue post that I've written halfway through many months ago...I've been busy in Gateway Women Google+ community for women who are childless by circumstance and I've enjoyed myself there. It's nice to know that there are so many supportive women who understand my journey and it's nice to know that I can support many women there because of the childless link among us. It feels GOOD to be in my "own tribe" so to speak, so lately I've shared some things that I usually share in this blog in that community instead. 


Anyway, there are several SUPER TOUGH lessons that I'd like to record here in this blog that infertility has been teaching me:

1. To focus on someone else's happiness when you feel like you're transported to a place of pain: in front of rows and rows of your buried dreams.

I think in the beginning of my IF journey, it was practically impossible to do so 'coz my wounds were still bleeding profusely and the pain was too much to bear sometimes. Nowadays it's "easier" to do it, though that doesn't mean I'm not affected at all. I find that I'm most affected during PMS as well as when I feel that there've been too many reminders of this broken dream around me - that's high time for me to step back and take good care of myself.

2. To channel and work on the grief somewhere else (esp. if the person involved is important and you don't want to rain on their parade). I found that this is more difficult than #1, especially if you're in regular contact with that said person and because the said person is important to you, it's tough not to share your vulnerable moments with them, but then again you don't want them to feel bad about you that they stop sharing their good moments with you. 


3. To know when to shut up, to refrain myself from saying something unnecessary that is potentially hurtful, to choose my words more carefully to the best of my ability whenever people open up to me about their pains and struggles. I want to master the art of comfort in, dump out

I find that at times when I feel uncomfortable when I'm facing someone else's pain or struggles that I find hard to relate to, it's easy to say all the wrong things simply because I feel helpless. 

4. To let go if despite my best efforts I end up hurting someone anyway. Sincerely say sorry, let go, and start all over again. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Year in Recap: Number of Babies/Pregnancy Announcements

OK, so it's not the end of the year yet, but there are only a few weeks left, so let me just have a year in recap of the number of babies that have been born and the pregnancy announcements in my social circle this year (that I know of - there may be more out there that I have no idea about).

First born babies: 10.
First pregnancy: 1 (in her 3rd trimester now)
Second born babies: 9.
Third born babies: 2.
Third pregnancy: 1 (in her 2nd trimester now)
A pair of twins (she's got five children prior to these twins).
First grandchild: 1. 

Total amount of babies/birth announcements: 24 +5** (two aren't born yet).
Total amount of pregnancy announcements: 25.

**Updated on Dec 8, 2013: Just saw another second born baby announcement.
**Updated on Dec 18, 2013: I forgot to add another second baby born a few months ago (just realized it today). 
**Updated on Dec 20, 2013: Two more babies have been born.
**Updated on Dec 26, 2013: A first born baby has been born.  

Hell, I've survived all that this year, so I must give myself a huge pat on the back! :-D Although I must say that it does help that I don't live near any of them except for one of them, but still three years ago it would have been much harder to take all these announcements and photos, especially it would've been so hard to accept my close friend's pregnancy he he...THANK GODDDDDD for the timing!!!


P.S. If you want to see cute photos, go here: Two Ferrets and A Cat. Why? Because I love cute animal photos ha ha ha...

P.P.S. Why did I even take time to count? Just because I felt like it. LOL!!!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Who In Fiction Are You?

HEHEHEHEHEHEHHHH...funny stuff. After writing my previous blog post, I found this funny test through a friend's FB and I tried it and I got this result (confirming what I had just realized about myself):

You are Jane Eyre:

To understand you is to love you. As a deep thinking, passionate yet quiet soul you may be more comfortable expressing your ideas, and ideals, through the written word rather than verbally. Lost in dreams, you may appear distant and undemonstrative to some, but when people get to know you, they discover a warm and kind friend.

Jane describes herself as "poor, obscure, plain and little" and you may be your own harshest critic. Despite your quiet nature, and discomfort with conflict, you will find your voice, and stand up for causes you feel passionate about.


glitter-graphics.com

Why don't you try it as well and let me know your result? :-D I don't know if you have to log on into your FB account first or not, though. Here's the link:

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Introvert In Me

Infertility, PMS, and friendship. Not a good combo, eh? Surely not. Especially when one of the friends is pregnant. Especially if the introvert in the group hasn't realized the important difference between herself and the rest of the group. It took several emails back and forth as well as a few days of pondering what went wrong before I finally felt a huge weight lifted off of me.

To cut the story short, my main problem (blown up by PMS) has been the fact that I'm the only one in my group of closest friends who relies on writing as the best/most fave kind of communication. Not writing SMS or short texts like in Twitter, mind you...but writing emails and blog posts. I just LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE writing in details about what I've been through and what I've been thinking about and I love finding out why I feel a certain way and in return I LOVE LOVE LOVE reading in details about other people's lives. 

In the past, I noticed that I had a high expectation on this type of communication and when I found out that my friends couldn't cope with it, I tried to lower my expectations and I tried my best to shorten my emails (and leave the details to my blog posts). However, despite my best efforts, I still had too high an expectation it seems. My PMS brought it forth this time because one of us is pregnant and I FELT that she had received more responses (yep, jealousy attack being blown up by PMS!). 


glitter-graphics.com

After pondering on what the problem was, though, I realized that it was foolish of me to expect that people whose main form of communication wasn't writing to respond to me the way that I had tried to respond to them. It's like asking them to keep on watching horror movies with me and comment on those horror movies. As much as they love me and as much as they want to meet me halfway, the best thing I can expect from them is to watch a few of those movies and comment on a few of them, but I can't expect them to do more than that. Why? Because if the situation were reversed, I wouldn't be able to do the same. 

Most of them prefer live chats or face-to-face interaction or phone calls. And I have been blindly thinking that because we all live in different cities and countries, emailing is the most preferable method of communication. How wrong I was! Lately they have preferred talking in WhatsApp or live chats because their lives are much busier than I am and I'm the one who can't cope with WhatsApp chats because they exhaust me so much (because I'm more of a detailed person and when- due to time difference - I'm left with hundreds of live chat messages, I'm overwhelmed and I don't know what to do because I tend to want to reply to every single one of them - or at least the important ones and it takes a LONG time to read through all the messages and figure out which ones need replying). This is why I prefer emailing, but for them, emailing takes more time and effort to reply, whereas during live chat when some of them are online at the same time, they can get responses ASAP. 

Anyway, the second problem was infertility thrown in the mixture of all that. In my PMS-loaded brain which was already full of confusion because of my own expectation, I thought of the not-so-distant future when my pregnant friend's baby would be born and how there would be so many more bonding moments between the mothers in our group and this freaked me out because I could just imagine how many times in the future would I be reminded of my own losses (the birth story, the baby room, the first smile, the first word, etc.) when many of them would naturally be ooh-aahing all the lovely moments and sharing their own kids' moments. I know, I know, my overworked PMS-loaded brain couldn't stop thinking way too far ahead!

So all those feelings made me reach out to them, asking if it was too much to ask if I asked for a little bit more response (honestly, I felt like a cranky little child begging for attention when I wrote the email), but in the end the emails between us back and forth made me realize that the only possible way to sort this mess is for me to step back and let go of my expectation (all of it, not just a part of it). I need to remember that for them, emailing is tough to follow and that they've given all they can. I know that they'll be there for me when the going gets tough (they've always been there), but it's unhealthy for me to expect them to respond the way I have responded to them. You see, for years I've always tried to respond to as many little details of their emails as possible and I've just realized that they don't even expect me to do so!!! Talk about a shocking moment for me! In my mind, I was respecting their time in their busy lives by responding to as many points in their emails as possible, but it wasn't even necessary! Yep, major doh moment!

For all it's worth, though, I'm just glad that I've sorted through all the mess. Phew! Now I just hope that I haven't damaged this friendship too much by making them worried about what to write (esp. when it's about their kids), because I DO want to know about their kids, though I have told them that I can't deny that on bad days (PMS days), the stories remind me of my own losses, but on good days, I'm very happy to read about their kids. But anyway, after the stormy mess, here's what I feel now: 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Random Thoughts and Quotes

Yesterday another coworker asked me if we had children and I said no. It was very refreshing because she didn't ask me anything else. Ha! :-D She just accepted my answer he he he he he...I bask in the glory of moments like this! :-D

Anyway, here is a quote I found in Facebook (I'd love to link to the original poster, but it's hard to find the original sources through FB pages), but anyway I thought this one was really appropriate. :-)





On another note, though, my inner b**ch is out and kicking (PMS time), so I've been trying to listen to some soothing music and soon I'll be watching all the TV series I've taped that I couldn't watch last week because I've been so busy at work (three coworkers got sick in a row last week so their shifts were shared with the others).


glitter-graphics.com

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunshine Award + Bristling Inside

This is the long overdue post that I was planning to write, but I've been so busy lately and I've been under the weather that I just haven't had the strength to focus on it. Viruses have been spreading in this village and three coworkers have been getting sick one at a time, which meant that the rest of us were working full steam. Working full steam is OK when you're 100% healthy, but when you have some health problems yourself, it can be really challenging, but I've survived so far. Phew!

Anyway, first of all I want to say THANK YOUUUUUUUUUUUUU for Wolfers who's shared this award with me. :-D



*A Sunshine Award is given to bloggers whose posts brighten your day.  The rules are:

1. Include the Sunshine Award icon in your post.
2. Link to the person who nominated you.
3. Answer 10 questions about yourself.
4. Nominate 10 bloggers to receive the award.
5. Link your nominees and let them know they've been nominated.


OK, now let me answer Wolfers' questions he he...

1.  Chocolate or Vanilla? 
Chocolate, but I love the combination of both, as well. :-D

2.  What is one thing you would rid of,  from the world?

Greed. 

3. What is in your bucket list for the next year?

Ummm...going back to Indo, going on a winter holiday vacation, and meeting some ladies from the Gateway Women community (it doesn't have to be next year, though, but I do plan to meet them somewhere - either in the UK or wherever). 

4. Where do you feel the most comfortable (outside of your home)? 

When I'm surrounded by nature and nobody else is with me...sometimes it means in our own back yard ha ha...

5.  Movies, originated from books (i.e. The Help), or books, originated from movies (i.e. Cowboys and Aliens)?

I think I prefer movies originated from books. For fantasy or sci-fi especially, I like watching the movies compared to reading the books. 

6. If you could live anywhere (no limits), where would that be?

I enjoy living here to be honest and for the moment I can't think of anywhere else I'd like to live.

7.  If you win the lottery ($64 millions), what would be the three first items you would acquire, (or get done)?

Pay off our debts (like our house loan), send plane tickets for my Indo family to come and visit ASAP hi hi...and tithe 10%. The fourth one will be to find out ways to invest a big chunk of the money and the fifth is to travellllllll to Japan without worrying about the cost (I have several friends living in 3 different places there that I'd like to visit)!!!! :-D 

8. What is one of your rants, that put you on the soapbox? 

Hmmm...this is tough...if I've thought about it, I've ranted a few times in FB as well as in my other blog about how nosy Indo people are and that each of us should think first before we speak. In Indo it's common to hear people say "When are you gonna get married? When are you gonna have a child? When are you gonna give your firstborn a sibling? You've got two boys (or girls), don't you want another one of a different gender? Oh, you've gained weight!" Major doh!!!

9. If you had one chance to a time machine that can only go ten years ago (2003), what would you do?

Probably I just wanna take a look at myself and my family...especially my dad 'coz he's no longer with us. :-D I'll probably be surprised at how young he looked! :-D

10. Done any jokes lately? Spill! 

Not really, but my tongue slipped the other day when I was trying to tell someone how much he had to pay for his grocery. I tried again and failed again and he was laughing so much...he probably thought it was so funny HI HI HI HI HI...and his facial expression and laughter were so contagious that I couldn't help laughing along (he was still laughing while walking away from me) HA HA HA HA HA HA HA...

*Of course, it's all optional.  The main rule is no guilt!  We all have some intense things going on, so I'll understand if you don't have time right now, or if you pick just a few favorite questions to answer.  If you do participate, please post a comment that links to your answers and nominees, so that others can go check them out.  


OK, it's not that I don't want to share my award with anyone, but those people have been awarded by Wolfers he he he he...so I'm not gonna do it because if I do so, then they have to answer more questions HA HA HA HA HA HA...

Anyway, let me continue the "bristling inside" topic. You see, the other day my close friend who's entering her third trimester wrote a question in FB about corporal punishment and how other parents thought about that. Many people chimed in to discuss the matter and I was bristling inside. This was what I probably looked like if I had been a cat:


Image source: here

Anyway, I jolted when I realized what I felt and I dug deep to find the reason. The reason was that her post took me back to the past, when we started TTC (or even a little bit before then - I was notorious for planning way ahead of time), when I asked my blogger friends who were parents on the tough aspects of parenting because I thought I could get more glimpses of what parenting was like from them - to help me prepare myself mentally for the time when I'd become a mother. I was bristling inside because I was reminded of how naive I was back then. I felt silly for having asked such things even before I could get pregnant. I felt silly for believing that pregnancy could happen so soon (or so easily). I was also reminded of my losses again - that as much as I wanted to participate in the conversation, I can't do it because we don't have children and we won't have any.

But you know what? What's done is done and I'm gonna embrace the naive me today and tell her that it's okay. That I'm okay. That being naive is normal and that I couldn't have known any better because I couldn't have predicted the future. That my losses have enabled me to meet so many wonderful ladies out there that I wouldn't have met otherwise and that they've inspired me and touched my life in so many ways. That my losses have enabled me to learn to love myself in ways that I couldn't have possibly done otherwise. So, despite all the losses I've experienced, I've also gained so much more...and for that, I'm thankful. :-)



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Monday, November 11, 2013

Finnish Father's Day

Yesterday was Father's Day in Finland. Many stores and supermarkets were closed, except for restaurants that offered Father's Day buffets and flower shops. We spent the day at MIL's because I had to work on Saturday. Just the usual: MIL cooked some food and then we played cards. 

When we got back home, I checked my FB account and then I felt mellow because there were a dozen Father's Day greetings and cards in my news feed. Funny thing was that compared to Mother's Day (the Finnish Mother's Day that is), I felt more mellow this time. I think even with the barrage of USA and Finnish Mother's Day greetings and wall posts (the amount was at least 5 times more than those on Father's Day that I found in my news feed), I survived better on both Mother's Days.

Why? I think one reason was because I had prepared myself mentally for both Mother's Days, so I didn't really click and read through all the Mother's Day's greetings and wall posts and I had put on my "complete mental armor" to protect myself against Mother's Day. Plus I still have a mother and a MIL, so I can still do something for them on Mother's Day. That means that despite my sadness of being a non-mom, I can still make someone else happy and in turn it makes me happy (so my sadness is counterbalanced by this).


I think I didn't expect that Father's Day would affect me because I thought it didn't really relate to me, so I didn't put on my mental armor when I checked my FB account. Other than those greetings and wall posts/cards in FB, a friend posted this on her news feed: "So this is the 30th Father's Day I've spent without my dad." And several people commented that it was their XXth Father's Day without their fathers.

I've lost both my father and my FIL and my husband is never going to be a father, so I felt that yesterday I felt a bit hollow and mellow when I was reminded of these things. I had to grieve over those three losses when I read those greetings and especially after I read that friend's news feed. I think what made it hard was also the fact that I couldn't even do anything for my father or FIL anymore. Mind you, I was tempted to buy a gift for hubby and give it to him yesterday, but I don't want to remind him of this loss. Plus it feels inappropriate to say "Happy Father's Day, hubby. I knew you'd make a great father if only you had a chance to be one. Here's a gift for you." I think instead of doing that, I'd rather just give him random gifts on random occasions.

Today my mood is essentially much better, especially after a good day at work. But those moments still managed to surprise me with their unexpectedness. They're like sneaky shadows whose existence is hidden from me on regular days, but every now and then they show themselves and remind me that just because I can't see them doesn't mean that they're not there. But that doesn't matter. What matters most is finding out where and why it hurts and then hugging it till it gets better and giving myself time and permission to take care of myself with lots and lots of TLC.


glitter-graphics.com

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Making The Best of My Life

The other day a regular customer of mine asked me "the question". I've worked in the same place for a little over 3 years but that was the first time he asked me that question. It was because I had finished worked and I was walking to my bike stand, so he asked if I had time to chit-chat and I said yes (we had a short convo while I packed some stuff into my bike's bags). When I said no, he immediately asked, "Are you going to try to have kids?"

I said no. 

He asked, "But why not? Don't you think kids are fun/great to have?"

I vaguely answered, "Weeeeeellll..."

I was debating inside on whether or not I should tell him that we couldn't have children, but thankfully he let it go and we parted ways soon after that and to be fair, he gave me a compliment about my work before ending our chit-chat, so I thanked him. 

Over the course of my IF journey, every now and then (esp. in the beginning) I felt this nagging question of "If you're not a mother/parent, what are you doing with your life?" There were times when I acutely felt the urge to find something "as grand/noble" to fill my life with, because if we really think about it, being able to be directly involved in the life of the future generation is really something. And because I'm not working in a place like that, that nagging question pops up every now and then, but so far I've countered them with these thoughts: 


1. God wants me to be faithful with what He's entrusted me with no matter how "small" it may be, so I'm gonna focus on doing my best to take care of what I have (job, marriage, healthy friendships - don't need no toxic friends, thanks) every single day of my life.

Someone once suggested to me about being foster parents or doing things involving other people's kids, but I don't feel called to do those things, so I'm not going to force myself to do it even if I have the opportunity.

2. "If you think you're too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito." - Dalai Lama 


I believe in the ripple effect. I believe that many times in life we don't know what kind of difference we may have made because the ripple effect is so subtle and we may not even know about it at all in our lifetime or we may only find out about it much later in life. But that doesn't matter. What matters is still back to number #1: making the best of each aspect of my life. 

3. When all else fails, I'll keep recharging myself with God's words:

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. 

- Psalm 139:13

Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 

- 2 Cor 12:19

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Next Level: On Celebrating My Path

There's a theme that's been brewing in my head for weeks now and I'm trying to capture it in this post. In many people's lives, "the next level" is the way to go. Graduating from school, graduating from university, getting a job, getting a promotion, getting engaged, getting married, getting pregnant, having children, your children's graduation, your children's wedding day, becoming a grandparent and the list goes on. And it's only natural that many people who know you will celebrate your "next levels". 

I think that's one of the many losses in this childless-not-by-choice path. At one point in time I felt stuck because it felt like I couldn't go on to the "next level" (in reproduction) that precludes so many "next levels" and celebrations of life. But you know what? I've survived infertility without children at the end of my road and it's a cause for celebration as well, so I'm going to celebrate it today. :-D

I'm celebrating my infertility scars because they're proof that I've learnt so many important lessons through my infertility journey and I bet that there will be many more important lessons in the future and I'm excited to learn anything else that life wants to throw my way. :-D

I'm celebrating my life and my path, because this is the only life that I have and this is the path that I've chosen and that I have no regrets.

I am celebrating my life because - no matter what - I do matter. :-D



glitter-graphics.com

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bittersweet Tears

The other day I think I had my first experience of crying with so much gratitude that my heart felt like it was going to burst mixed with some grief over the losses of a life as a non-mother. It was bittersweet. The tears didn't run too long, but it was cleansing. :-) 



The triggers? The gratitude came from hearing positive feedback about myself from different people including from MIL. I was SO touched and thankful to be able to hear those words, but at the same time I realized how much more they meant to me because I'm not a mother. Only after I heard the words did I realize that I had actually been waiting for some confirmation that I was doing something right as a non-mom. Like I was secretly wishing that the universe would give me signs that what I was doing in the community was enough even if I could never become a mother.

The grief came much later that day while I was reading a manga series that dealt with cute little twins (a boy and a girl) that I had subscribed to (I had been reading it since ages ago and it's still not finished yet). Reading about their antics and how they grew not just in size but also in many different areas in life made me feel sad because I could never watch my own child(ren) grow. And that was when I remembered the positive feedback from all those people which counterbalanced my grief. It felt surreal

It was probably the first time when I cried tears of grief that didn't weigh upon my chest. Instead, the feeling of gratitude gave the grief some wings...After they held me in their embrace for a little while, off they flew, leaving me sighing contentedly. 


Friday, September 27, 2013

Catharsis

One of the nagging questions I've experienced during my IF journey is, "When is it going to stop? When am I going to completely heal from this? When will I stop feeling the pain? When will I stop grieving?"

I remember that after a rather long period of peace, grief started knocking on my door again and for some time I tried blocking its entrance. I thought that I had grieved enough and that I had "healed", but over time the knock got louder and louder and louder and I couldn't ignore it anymore. I gave in. The grief wasn't as strong as before and the pain I felt wasn't as crushing, but still the need to grieve couldn't be ignored. I wrote a long post about it (Funeral of a Dream) and gave myself permission to cry my eyes out.

As time passed by and new and old feelings came up, I began to realize even more that it's not the destination that counts. Trying to think of when I'm going to "fully heal" is only making me frustrated. Trying to protect myself from possible harm (other people's questions, annoying ass-vice given by random people, etc.) is tricky because it's really unpredictable when I'm going to feel stabbed by something I hear or something I see (although I admit it's handy to try to prepare and remember smart comebacks for the usual questions that people throw at us). What I can tell is that the longer I spend on this road to healing, the less often I experience heart stabbing moments (which in the past would actually make me feel like bleeding profusely inside or feel like I was being punched in the gut). 

I find that whenever I try to fight grief from consuming me, it drags my feet instead, making it harder for me to walk further away along my healing journey. It's like all of a sudden I was walking in a swamp. The height of the swamp increased the longer I postpone my grieving process. However, the minute I let go, the minute I let myself drown, even though the process is very unpleasant and tiring, at the end of it it feels like a refreshing, cleansing bath. A catharsis. The weight of the swampy water is no longer dragging me, no longer clinging onto me. I feel cleaner because I have accepted all that is that I'd been feeling inside and let myself be. I stand face-to-face with all those feelings and embrace them and they let go of their grip onto me.

I think this is one of the toughest parts of this journey. Because this journey is wrought with so many layers of loss, sometimes when the grief overlaps due to the many losses we feel at one time, it's so overwhelming that we're afraid of letting ourselves drown in them. So we keep fighting them and that tires us even more, which is not helpful at all. Everyone has different journeys and different pain triggers, different life situations and different challenges. The only thing I can say that helps me whenever I get frustrated because I don't feel like I'm moving forward at all in my journey is this: take it one day at a time. One day at a time...and someday in the far future, when I look back on my journey, it'll be easier to gauge just how far I've come. 

P.S. I admit on some days it's harder to follow my own advice LOL!!! 
 

glitter-graphics.com

Thursday, September 19, 2013

More on Shame

I watched another video of BrenĂ© Brown's talk again and was reminded of how powerful it is. 

One quote that rang loudly when I heard her talk was this: 

"The two most powerful words when we're in struggle is 'me too'."'


I think it's especially true for disenfranchised grief. :-D

OK, I'm not going to write too long. Enjoy the videos! 

Here's the transcript for the first video: Listening to shame

 
And as a complement of the one above, let me share this one, too (a shorter video):


Here's a link to the summary of the second video, though not exactly the transcript: Finding Shelter in a Shame Storm

Last but not least, I'd love to thank each one of you who's been really supportive and who's left kind and encouraging words. YOU ROCKKKKKKK!!!!! God bless each and every one of you in your own journeys!!!!


glitter-graphics.com

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Then vs Now: Warring Thoughts on Pregnancy

My period cycle ranges between 31-43 days, averaging 35 days. In the beginning of time (2010) after we sort of decided to live life without kids (though not really 100% sure yet), whenever I got closer to my period, I would have those warring thoughts again, "Oh, maybe I'll get pregnant this month. Maybe my period won't come. Maybe I'll get to feel a child growing inside me. Hmmm...I wonder how he'll look like...then next year we'll have to stop travelling until the child is big enough etc. etc. etc."

I remember one time my period was 2 days late (so 45 days) and I started daydreaming again about our possible child etc. etc. etc. and as usual another part of me scolded me, "Are you CRAZY?!?!?!?! Do you wanna go through it all over again? The disappointment? The grief? STOP IT, stupid brain!!! (add some expletives here)" 

And you know what? A couple of times I even had these thoughts when I wasn't even sure that we made love on my fertile days (because I'd stopped counting). Then started the war all over again. The "But imagine how your child could look like and how happy your parents and in-laws are gonna be etc. etc. etc." versus "Are you delusional? You don't even know if you made love on your fertile days, how is it possible to get pregnant?" Crazy, I know. No wonder some people may consider me obsessed he he...

However, I've noticed a shift since more or less last year (as far as I remember). Last year I had a scare. Again my period was 2 days later than normal and I was actually scared of getting pregnant. I had been focusing on this thought "we're a complete family just the two of us" that I really wished my period would come. And I was sighing in relief when my period finally came.

Have you ever had these types of warring thoughts, too? 
 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

No vs Not Yet

Kathleen's post on how we answer the question "Do you have children?" made me think of my own answers during my IF journey. I remember that in the past, even in the beginning of time after we made a decision to live life without kids, I still automatically answered either "Not yet" or "No, because it didn't work for us."

For a long time I mostly used the first answer. I only used the latter answer whenever I felt defensive. When I started feeling more at peace with our decision to live without kids, I was mad at myself whenever I automatically blurted out "not yet." Now when I ponder upon it, it was actually "easier" to say "not yet" because more often than not, upon hearing the answer, others would simply respond, "Oh, you still have time" or something like that. And the topic ended there.

However, whenever I offered the latter answer, more often than not, people would offer unhelpful-but-well-meaning suggestions. One guy I hardly knew even nervously joked about our infertility because he didn't know what to say (I had a hard time forgiving him and for a long time I kept on repeating the joke over and over in my head which made me fume even more, but now that I'm typing this, I realize that I have no more grudge against him. HALLELUJAH!!!! I'm FREE from that shackle!!! :-D)  


Anyway, I realize that these days my answer has changed into a "no". I was disappointed at myself for a while for having automatically given the answer "not yet" on a few occasions (not many people here ask that question unlike what happens in Indo), so I tried practicing the answer "no" a dozen times in my head, but I never had a chance to use it yet.

However, last week my much younger coworker (21 y.o.) asked that question and I said no (and I didn't feel the need to explain anything to her = I wasn't feeling defensive). 

She asked, "Why not?" I explained to her that it didn't work for us. 

Then she said, "You can always adopt."

I explained to (educated) her briefly that adoption was a complex process and that our ages also had an influence on it. And I added that we were fine even without kids. 

She then asked me how long we'd been married and I replied almost 7 years. Then she stopped asking me more questions because we had to get on with our work. :-) 

P.S. Here's something I made when I was raking the autumn leaves outside. Click to view it in a bigger size.


Friday, September 13, 2013

The Positive vs The Negative

Lately I've been wondering why negative events/comments/emotions seem to have more impact on myself. Am I really that hard on myself? I think over the past decade I've learnt to be my own best friend MUCH better than I did when I was younger, so is there something wrong with me?

Out of curiosity I browsed online and I found this really interesting article along with a brilliant piece of advice on how to balance it all out:


Like the author, after reading the article, I feel glad now that I'm not the only one and I'm not being too hard on myself he he he...

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Happy Moment

My brother has been sending me pics of his second son periodically ever since the boy was born so that I can see his growth. For practicality's sake, let's just call him JM (the M isn't his surname, but his second first name). As I've mentioned in a previous blog post, the M actually came from me. My bro asked me for some name suggestions prior to JM's birth and I mentioned to him that I had always liked a particular name (after I had sent him about a dozen of names I found online that I thought he and wife would/may like). He and his wife added 2 letters to the end of the M, but the original part that I liked was still intact.

Anyway, the first few times he sent me JM's pics, he wrote: "Here's J's latest pics."

However, the last time he wrote: "Here's a pic of mom with M" ---> mind you, he didn't write the two letters that they had added to the second first name, so the name that he wrote was the exact name that I had told him I had always liked. When my eyes caught the name, I literally choked inside and I got teary-eyed. I suspect that he deliberately wrote that, though I don't know for sure, but it was a very heartwarming moment that I'd like to record here in case I forget about it. All I want to say is, BLESS YOU, brother! Bless you!!!


glitter-graphics.com

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Spreading the News: The Cycle (Sept 27, 2013)

Just wanna spread the news about The Cycle, a wonderful public forum for people diagnosed with infertility that will be held in NYC on September 27, 2013. Whether you're still trying or you've adopted or thinking of adopting or you've let go of the dream and move on or you have an infertile friend and would like to learn more about it, this forum is for you. For more info about the event, go here

Anyways, today I just had my dam broken. You know one of those moments when you've watched or read or heard something that just suddenly touched some tender parts inside of you and then you just can't help yourself but cry? The kind of crying that is cleansing, I mean. Not the kind of "woe is me" type of crying.

I read "Not Just Baby" and the dam just broke. It felt like I was being held by a friend who truly understood what I had gone through because she herself had gone through a similar path, to whom I didn't need to explain myself in great lengths on why IF affected me so much and why IF-related thoughts could appear out of the blue even when someone else was talking about something completely mundane to me. I felt justified to be in my IF-scented world. I just love this kind of cleansing experience and for that, I'm SO thankful.



glitter-graphics.com

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Second Pap Smear

I've been so busy with going back to work and starting new tasks last week that I just ran out of energy to blog and blog-hop. I'm always a bit worried about going back to work after my holiday because of several reasons.

Anyway, last week I had my second pap smear invitation from the government. It's offered for free every 5 years, so yes, of course I'd gladly go and have myself checked up. I had never had any pap smear back in Indo and my first experience was so gentle. The gyno talked in Finnish very very slowly so that I would understand everything and I'm really glad she was that thoughtful. 

Today I was checked up by a different woman, but at least I know already what was going to happen, so it was all good. She asked me some stuff, including whether or not we used birth control. I said, "No, because making babies isn't happening for us." Then she asked if we still had baby fever. I said no. Thankfully she didn't say anything else about that and she continued with the next questions. Bless her! :-) She said that from what she could see, everything looked good, but I'm gonna get the result in 1-4 months anyway via snail mail. 


After the baby boom last month (a cousin's son, my bro's second son, a friend's grandson plus I found out another friend is preggy), one thing popped out. I was totally fine with the births of the sons and seeing the preggy friend's pics and seeing little children and pregnant ladies during our holiday. What was tough to witness (surprise, surprise!) was my friend's joy and exhilaration on becoming a grandma (it wasn't making me bleed inside, but I felt a little thump after several postings). I think the reason is that I haven't really grieved fully this kind of loss - that I'll never be able to witness a son's wife's or daughter's pregnancy and I'll never become a grandma.

At one point I almost wanted to hide some of the things she shared, but I didn't. I did, though, take time to acknowledge and grieve the loss and I took some time away from Facebook before I commented on her posts and photos about becoming a grandma. I think being busy at work has also helped me in that area. :-) At work I don't have time to use my mobile phone, so I can focus on other things instead. And here's to hugging myself mentally whenever I'm in pain!
 

glitter-graphics.com

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Busy August

What a month! I had some training to do in another city, then right after that we went on our holiday. Before the training, one of the August babies was born. I had had a feeling that one of the three would be born during our holiday and my hunch was right. My brother's second son was born on our second week of holiday and the third August baby has either been born or will be born soon (read: like tonight or at the latest tomorrow).

During our holiday, I was planning to blog and blog-hop, but alas, the wifi in our hotel area wasn't that reliable, but then again it was a good excuse to have more quality time with hubby. We spent lazy hours in the comfort of our hotel room to avoid the sweltering midday heat playing Angry Birds LOL!!! We also sunbathed in the lounges and then swam a few times in the pool.


I also kept in touch with my mom 'coz I knew my brother's baby was due next week, so I wanted the update. The thing was that, in one SMS my Mom told me that on my last birthday, she sent a morning prayer like this: that if it was God's will, she hoped I could get pregnant but instead, the one getting pregnant was my SIL.

I was taken aback when I read the SMS, because I had clearly told her at least a few times that we had surrendered to life without kids and she had agreed that it was a good idea. This time I replied to her that we had been enjoying our life without kids and that we had even stopped doing it on my fertile window already and that we had been blessed with other blessings and we were thankful for those.

I told hubby that if I got pregnant without doing it with him on my fertile window, that would've definitely rocked our marriage. In my mind, the time we spent baby dancing during my fertile window for months and months of TTC = no pregnancy. The time we don't spend baby dancing during my fertile window these days = no pregnancy, correct? If the time we don't spend baby dancing these days = a pregnancy, that wouldn't be a miracle at all. But anyway, we didn't really linger on the topic 'coz it was tougher to "debate" in SMS messages, so the topic changed. Thankfully whenever something like this appeared, she never really tried to keep pushing at it and she knew when to back down.

Coincidentally speaking, another IFer friend sent me a message during our holiday. She and hubby had tried different alternative methods to get pregnant, but for the last few years (just like us), they had surrendered to the idea of life with kids. The problem is that apparently her parents kinda want to push them to try IUI. It seems that if they try IUI and then don't succeed, then they'll drop the topic 'coz IVF is just way too expensive for them. 

The problem is, my friend isn't sure if they want to try. First of all, they have to think of both ways it can end: a failure or a success. After spending a few years of living life without kids and not thinking of life with kids, are they really ready to have a baby? However, if the IUI fails, are they ready to experience the emotional turbulence all over again? I just told her that I hoped she and hubby could make the best decision for the both of them and then accept whatever consequences coming out of the decision. And I hoped that she and hubby were on the same page concerning the decision. 

Anyway, back to the August babies. My bro asked me to find some baby boy's names months ago and I gave him at least a dozen. Mind you, it was TOUGH to try to find out what kind of names (or meanings of the names) that the parents would love, even though he's my own brother. Anyway, turned out that the second first name was one of the names I gave him (actually it's one of the names I've liked since long ago and I did tell him so when I told him about that particular name - they do tweak it a little by adding two additional letters at the back of it, but still it feels nice to know that they do use it 'coz that was probably the only time I could contribute to a child's name in my entire life). :-D

Other than that, we've had a really relaxing two weeks in Bulgaria. We were feeling lazy this time, so we didn't really travel around to other places, even though it was possible to do so. We had two full body massages that was rather cheap, but quite satisfying. Now my challenge is to try to remember the things I need to remember at work and to remember the new things I have to do and figure out where things are at work 'coz they've changed the layout pretty drastically while I was in Bulgaria. But it sure feels nice to come back home and be able to catch up with friends and blogger friends. :-)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pain Triggers #2

The previous post about pain triggers reminded me of a conversation I once had with my ex-Junior High School classmate. We got to know each other better over time and then one day, long after we first met she confided to me that she used to be envious of the fact that I had my own bedroom. Mind you, I used to sleep in a bunk bed with my brother for years until I finally moved to a makeshift room at the other side of the house. Mom just put on a rail of curtains to separate it with the rest of the room. After my grandma died, I moved to her bedroom and that was when I got my own room that had an actual door (it was when I was in High School). 

Anyway, back to the story...I was totally surprised when I heard her say that. I mean, I never boasted about the fact that I got my own bedroom, but for her at that time it must've been something pretty important and something she could only daydream about (FYI she had to share a room with a cousin for years). After all, it IS nice to be able to have your own space and be able to have your own privacy. And her words reminded me to be thankful about having my own bedroom and not to take it for granted.


glitter-graphics.com

So, even though sometimes we don't say anything that may spark someone else's pain trigger, somebody else may feel the pain just because it's something out of reach that they've daydreamed about. Sometimes when other people state their thankfulness over something, it may also spark our pain triggers when the thing that they're thankful for is something that we don't have (either yet or can't have). 

I think it's just normal to feel that way, but when I try to think of this in a HUGE scale for every human being I meet online or offline, it feels like I start seeing landmines everywhere. There's NO WAY you'll be able to escape from inadvertently stepping on those landmines in your daily life, especially nowadays when it's easier to communicate with one another through the internet (read: share photos etc.) and there's no way you can avoid having your landmines stepped on, either. The only thing I want to do is recognize that place of pain and then embrace it, soothe it, love it, hug it until I feel better.

I realize that I also find those triggers in unexpected, random places. For example I was browsing through a friend's old album and then I saw a pic where she was holding her baby nephew. Below the pic, another friend commented, "Mother-to-be." Mind you, she wasn't preggy at that time nor was she actually TTC yet, but when I reread that comment today, I felt a little thump on my heart. The thump that whispered, "Ah, nobody'll ever say that to me." It wasn't that painful, but it was clear enough that it was one a small pain trigger 'coz it is connected to my broken dream.


To be honest, the first time we realized we were IFers, I think I must've thought IF was a kind of insolent uninvited stranger barging into our life. After a while, I started to think of it as my enemy. An enemy who tried to ransack my relationships with other people as well as hubby and then mockingly laughed at our wrecked state. I battled it with all my might, trying my best not to lose (my sanity, control over my emotions, etc.). But alas, it was WAY too strong for me. I wept buckets, bled inside, and cursed it, but after a while I surrendered and that was when I started healing. And I think after I started recognizing it as a kind of guru instead of an enemy, I've been walking further along this path of healing even more as time goes by (it's like I'm experiencing a different shift in this path of healing).

Anyway, let me end this post with some more quotes.


Lord, help us to accept the pains and conflicts that come to us each day as opportunities to grow as people and become more like you.
- Mother Teresa, A Gift for God
Adversity introduces one to oneself. 
- Unknown 

"I walked a mile with Pleasure
She chattered all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow
And ne'er a word said she;
But oh, the things I learned from her
When Sorrow walked with me."

- Robert Browning Hamilton


Quotes taken from here and here

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pain Triggers

Was talking to a wise friend about our IF journeys and she told me this: "Just remember, everybody has pain triggers."

That's very true, isn't it? Her words remind me to keep things in perspective and that no matter how hard we try not to hurt others, there's bound to be something we say/post that triggers the pain in someone else's heart because we don't know the pain triggers in their lives. 

I think this is made even more acute with sites like FB where people get to share many things with whomever they choose. For example: a travel extensive friend has posted lots and lots of travel photo albums, to which a mother of two young children commented, "Owwwww...I can probably only start doing that at the earliest 5 years from now."

A father with a young child replied to the comment, "Yeah, the same goes for me, too!" 

And of course as IFers, we've had our own shares of pain triggers from sites like FB. Let me end this post with some quotes instead...

“It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”
- James Baldwin
“Forgiveness has nothing to do with absolving a criminal of his crime. It has everything to do with relieving oneself of the burden of being a victim--letting go of the pain and transforming oneself from victim to survivor.”
- C. R. Strahan
Pain is a part of life. Sometimes it's a big part, and sometimes it isn't, but either way, it's a part of the big puzzle, the deep music, the great game. Pain does two things: It teaches you, tells you that you're alive. Then it passes away and leaves you changed. It leaves you wiser, sometimes. Sometimes it leaves you stronger. Either way, pain leaves its mark, and everything important that will ever happen to you in life is going to involve it in one degree or another.”
- Jim Butcher
Quote sources: here and here