Monday, April 29, 2013

Baby Boom and Health Problems Revisited

Two friends had their babies yesterday and today. Other than the baby boom factor and health problems looming since the beginning of this year, I've heard more health issues and I'm currently having a bothersome health problem. Nothing serious for me (just a bothersome bout of BPPV), but the other two health issues experienced by two different people I know are pretty serious, so I hope they have a happy ending in terms of healing. 

Speaking of happy endings, due to this bout of BPPV I wasn't really sharing anything much in FB for NIAW, but yesterday I shared Pamela's youtube video "There's more than one happy ending" and I wrote above it: "This is our infertility happy ending: me + hubby = a complete family." 

I felt that I had shared other notes about infertility in the past (like "things not to say to infertiles") so this time I want more people to acknowledge this kind of happy ending as well. THANK YOU, Pamela, for having made the video available to represent this kind of happy ending. :-)

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 
- Robert Frost


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Guilt and Infertility #2

Last night I remembered another type of guilt that happened during my IF journey. You see, during the emotional chaos inside me, when envy, jealousy, self-pity, resentment, cynicism, anger (most of all towards God), guilt (for not being able to give joy to the parents and in-laws and hubby in terms of being preggy), frustration, sorrow, grief, pain raged on, another type of guilt came up. This guilt reared its ugly head exactly because I had felt all those emotions within me. I felt like the worst version of myself

I DID NOT want to feel envious and jealousy and self-pity and all those. Only after reading hundreds of blog posts echoing similar voices did I start to open myself up to the fact that I wasn't crazy and that it was probably useless to try to fight them all off (to keep them at a distance). And reading about those who had gone much further up on the healing stage than the start of the battlefield that I was in helped A LOT in giving me hope that it was just a phase that I had to go through.

*** Additional note: This type of guilt also came up because whenever jealousy/envy/self-pity appeared, it felt as though I wasn't being thankful for the things that I had. 

So my view shifted. I embraced those feelings and I started thinking that maybe, just being able to feel all those feelings would help me understand others who had felt similar emotions. And in the end if that meant that I could make only ONE other person feel "understood", then it was all worth it. And that if all of it brought me closer to God, then it was all worth it.

And just like what Mali said in the comment section, it is imperative to separate the guilt that feels like saying "I am bad" from "I do feel these things, but that doesn't mean I'm a bad person JUST BECAUSE I'm feeling all these things. That only means I'm a human being that is capable of feeling these extreme emotions."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Guilt and Infertility #1

Read these words the other day while browsing around: 

"we have been conditioned to seek approval from other people from others for the things we say and do...Most people have been taught that feeling guilty about something shows that you care about it, and that not feeling guilty means you don't, which then makes you a 'bad' person..."

That's VERY true, isn't it? 

Infertility roused up a sum of guilt in myself for not being able to provide a grandchild/grandchildren for my parents and hubby's parents. It took time to get rid of this guilt because at that time I also felt other very strong emotions on top of the guilt (jealousy, envy, grief, sorrow, pain, anger, doubt, etc.) that I had to deal with.

I remember sharing to someone about this guilt (after we had more or less resolved our infertility by letting go) and she said, "Don't let anyone make you feel guilty about something like this!"

After reading her words, I realized that none of my parents and in-laws had actually ever (deliberately) made me feel guilty about it. They never nagged me and asked me, "When are you going to make us grandparents?" or things like that. The guilt came because I DID want to give them a grandchild/grandchildren and I knew they wanted to have more grandchildren if they could ('coz that would bring them joy as well). It's funny that sometimes other people don't necessarily do or say things that make us feel guilty, but there are things inside ourselves that make us feel that way. 

I remember wondering if I should have felt "guilty" because I couldn't come back home for my Dad's funeral, but I must admit that I didn't feel any guilt because I felt that I had done everything I could when he was alive and not long before he passed away I had a chance to say what I wanted to tell him. The only guilt I felt was only because I left my bro and Mom busy before and during the funeral, though I'm sure that my relatives would help out, but still it made me feel a bit bad for not being able to be there for them.

I remember one close friend once told me not to feel guilty for having left my family behind (esp. when my parents were having health problems for example) because on the other side of the equation, my brother and family are able to enjoy having my parents with them (for example my Mom helps take care of their kid and still cooks for them). Hearing my close friend's words soothed me. 

Guilt is very sneaky, though...healthy guilt would/should propel us to improve ourselves and to learn from our mistakes, but unhealthy grief can only serve to burden us more and more as time goes by. I've managed to cut off the chain of guilt that weighed me down for not being able to give grandchildren to both sides of the family (as well as for not being able to turn hubby into a father), but I'm sure there'll be many more guilt lessons to learn from in the future. May God help me discern which is which...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Masochist Much?

These days every now and then I'd look at some friends' baby bump pictures in FB again and again (those that have been posted weeks or months ago). Don't really know if it's just to find out how I feel (do I really want to test myself that much or am I just a masochist or what? I honestly don't know yet LOL). It's kinda weird, but these days sometimes I have this strong desire to look at their baby bump pics or even ultrasound pics. So far so good, though. One clear thought that I felt was, "Oh, must be amazing to be able to receive that gift!" (read with the tone of voice of someone who's amazed at the beauty of nature) but nothing else other than the occasional, "How on earth can they get preggy so fast?" (read with an amazed/bewildered tone of voice). 

I must say that this year is really a baby-filled year. After all the pregnancy/baby birth announcements that I've heard in the beginning of the year, I've just heard another pregnancy announcement. And there's still 8+ months left until the end of the year! But most of the time I'm OK with it, though I have this lingering FEAR about the pregnancies of my close friends that may happen in the future (either near or far future). I know one of them is TTC and another one is ready for another one. So we shall see about that and I'll write about them when the time comes. I really want to be happy for them and be able to support them during their pregnancies, but if I can't do it, then I'll just have to learn to forgive myself again, I suppose.

Anyhow, here's a rare convo I had with an old granny (seriously old, she was using a rollator) the other day: 

Gran: "Where do you come from?"
Me: "Indonesia."
Gran: "How long have you lived here?"
Me: "Six years."
Gran: "Oh, what brought you here?"
Me: "Love."
Gran: "Is your hubby a good guy?"
Me: "Yes."
Gran: "Does he beat you up?" (first time that someone has ever asked this LOL!!!)
Me: "Nooooooooo!"
Gran: "Do you have kids?"
Me: "No."
Gran: "It's not worth it." (or "You shouldn't" ---- The words she used in Finnish could be translated both ways - she wasn't saying them cynically or sarcastically, but matter-of-factly)

At home I told my hubby about our convo and he laughed when he heard what she said about having kids he he he he he he...though I did wonder about why she had said it and I felt a bit sad for her 'coz if she did have kids, that must've meant that she didn't have a good relationship with the kids or something (?)...but anyway the bottom line is that it's refreshing to hear something like that he he he...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What Letting Go Is...What Letting Go Is NOT...

Read this quote in Loribeth's blog a while ago and it was SO good that I just had to share it in FB as well. Here goes: 

There is a big difference between giving up and letting go. Giving up means selling yourself short. It means allowing fear and struggle to limit your opportunities and keep you stuck.
Letting go means freeing yourself from something that is no longer serving you. It means removing toxic people and belief systems from your life so that you can make room for relationships and ideas that are conducive to your well-being and happiness.
Giving up reduces your life. Letting go expands it. Giving up is imprisoning. Letting go is liberation. Giving up is self-defeat. Letting go is self-care.
So the next time you make the decision to release something or someone that is stifling your happiness and growth, and a person has the audacity to accuse you of giving up or being weak, remind yourself of the difference. Remind yourself that you don’t need anyone’s permission or approval to live your life in the way that feels right. No one has the authority to tell you who to be or how to live. No one gets to decide what your life should look like or who should be a part of it. No one, but you. 
~ Danielle Koepke
 An FB friend then commented on the quote, asking, "So it's all just about our point of view?"

I responded, "In a way yes, I suppose. In some cases we have to set our boundaries and stick to them (in case of toxic people for example). In other cases some dreams do have an expiry date and letting go is essential in order to move on (rather than keep on bumping into a wall that's impenetrable). In other cases letting go of our dreams (and change them into other dreams) is the only way that we can start to heal. And I guess there are many other cases that I can't possibly think of." 

What would you say if you were asked that question? 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Have You Grieved Enough?

I've been thinking about infertility grief/loss lately. When I first started my infertility journey (after 12 months of TTC), I read as many infertility blogs as possible because I felt mostly crazy or weird or over-the-top. The message I got from non IFers at that time was that, "Just be patient/relax. It's not that you've tried that long anyway. Have you tried finding out what's wrong?" But I was convinced that my feelings of loss/grief were valid and I didn't want to deny them, so I just had to find others who voiced the feelings that I had churning inside me.

At that time I also desperately tried to find as many articles that could help me in my journey. One of them was this: Ambiguous Loss and Disenfranchised Grief.

With the kind of "invisible loss" that we've experienced (we've never been pregnant), I felt the need to "own" the grief and grieve fully, but at the same time I didn't want to "prolong" the process either, but it was hard to find out which is which. However, by joining some forums and reading about how other people have grieved (those who've gone before me, esp. those who don't end up with children), I realize that the grief waves come and go and many times you just don't know when it's gonna hit. The initial wave that I felt on my darkest moment was just so overwhelming. In the beginning I tried to "numb myself" because I felt a bit scared of the height and depth of the grief I felt at that time (Btw, Brené Brown has talked about numbing ourselves in Oprah show) . 

I didn't want the wave to engulf me and drown me and "kill" me (or a huge chunk of me) because I was afraid of not being able to pick up all the pieces and carry on after that. After I finally let go and just let the wave wash over me, though, what I found was that it actually cleansed me. I had to start over again, to find myself, my place to belong, a new dream, but it didn't "kill" me (or a chunk of me) per se. And I found out that after the initial wave that felt like a tsunami, other waves did come and go, but they weren't as overwhelming anymore. I suspect that the cleansing also came from the fact that after reaching rock bottom, I sort of got the feeling that I couldn't possibly fall down even deeper than that, so the only way to go after that was up.

When a close friend experienced miscarriage some time ago, I reminded her to grieve fully a few times, but she said that she felt the right to do so, so my reminder wasn't really necessary. I wrongly used my own IF experience to try to "guess" what she may have felt, but that made me realize an important difference between our losses, because when she announced the miscarriage, all of us including a few other friends she had told about it acknowledged her loss in the blink of an eye, but when I shared my "ambiguous" loss, my closest friends were confused about the height and depth of my grief. They basically weren't ready to acknowledge or validate my grief/loss until I told them what I needed. And boy was I really so desperate in getting others to validate my grief back then!

At that time I didn't really understand why I felt so desperate until I read these words:

"An important factor in the resolution of grief is social support from others. The bereaved need support, not only for the reality of the loss, but for the validity of their grief, and of themselves as legitimate grievers. As Fowlkes (1991, p. 532) wrote, "Because loss entails a loss of self-validation, the starting point for recovery is the validation of the loss itself." 

Ambiguous losses receive little or no public recognition, and if members of the social network are unable to recognize the loss as real, they will not be able to validate the grief of the bereaved. Others may find providing support difficult to do, since people are more comfortable with "normal" rather than what is perceived as "abnormal" losses and grief responses. Thus, an ambiguous loss may be experienced as irreconcilable. This may, in turn, lead to disenfranchised grief...

....Because of the lack of social recognition, disenfranchised grief is a hidden grief and this "hiddenness" can paradoxically increase the reaction to loss. There can be an intensify emotional reactions. It can intensify feelings of anger, guilt and/or powerlessness, thus resulting in a more complicated grief response. Rituals may be absent or the grievers may be excluded from rituals. The reduced or absent social support promotes a sense of generalized isolation on the part of the griever.
Disenfranchised grief may lay hidden for years, only to be triggered by later losses. Seeland (1990) proposed that this hidden grief can lead to incomplete resolution of the tasks Worden outlined. There may be delayed grief reactions where new grief may build on or trigger old, unresolved grief responses. This may result in chronic grief reaction where grief is never resolved, life becomes stagnant, and new emotional growth cannot take place. Grief reactions may be masked, and grief may express itself in a variety of physical, psychological, or behavioral manifestations."

Absent rituals? That's spot on. When my friend who experienced miscarriage buried "her baby" in the backyard, it was the first time I'd ever felt the strong need for a ritual. I felt that I needed a more "real" closure. I was again reluctant to grieve, but in the end the need grew stronger and stronger so I let go. Due to a non-existent normal rituals, I had to create my own. And I did feel more healing after creating the ritual.

I find that during my IF journey, I'm taught to let go of SO many different things (not just letting go of the dreams that include children) over and over again. Letting go of control, of "trying to hold it together", of whatever other people may think about my loss and my grief and how I grieve. And I bet there will be many more other lessons in the future, so bring it on! I can't wait for more enlightenment to come!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Back from Rome: Caricature Pic

Had a lovely 6 days in Rome with hubby. Far away from the daily grinds of life. Being able to see flowers and green grass and trees already while the ground's still covered with snow here.

Felt relieved that we were travelling without kids when during the 3-hour flight to Helsinki, a little girl (around 3 years old) sitting two rows away from us was really cranky. Every now and then she screamed and squealed as loudly as possible, then cried as loudly as possible as well for a long time. The crazy thing was that she always started doing the whole thing again when I tried to sleep. And when I finally gave up on trying to sleep, she stopped whatever she was doing. Boy, were we so glad to get off that plane (as I'm sure the other passengers who sat near her)!:-D

Anyhow, the best thing of the whole trip was to have our caricatures done. I'd been dying to have it done for years and finally we did it!!! Here's the final product. We're both SO pleased with the result. It's money worth spent (€20). :-D Lots of memories and laughter! Here's to life! :-D