Thursday, September 24, 2015

Rising Strong

What probably prompted me to create Mochi (see my previous post) was listening to Brené Brown's talks and her mention of how the narrative (story) we tell ourselves have a big effect on our lives. So there I was feeling forlorn and melancholic because my chamber of cheerleaders was rather empty and I was wondering if I could somehow manipulate that story in a creative way. Here's what I'm talking about: Brené Brown's Rising Strong Excerpt.

You know what? After creating Mochi in my mind, I played with my imagination a little. I imagined a dozen versions (or more) of Mochi dancing around and playing around in my chamber and I felt GIDDY with excitement. Like a little kid with a new toy. Or an adult with a delightful secret. I don't remember when the last time I felt that giddy, but now whenever I close my eyes and imagine Mochi, my devoted imaginary cheerleader, a smile always appears on my lips. 

Anyway, if you want to listen to her talk about Rising Strong, here's the video below. I managed to catch half of the video live, but had to wait for the video link to be uploaded to watch the first half of it.


Friday, September 18, 2015

Introducing Mochi!

These past few days I've felt melancholic. It doesn't help that the weather outside has been rainy and grey as well. There have been some things that have made me feel this way (other than the refugee crisis and the heated debate on the changes the government has proposed for this country). One of the reasons is that some things have made me more aware of the hollow echoes of my rather empty chamber of cheerleaders. I'm thankful for a few people who have been able to share my joys (my "Eureka" moments) that are otherwise missed completely in today's world, but every now and then I visit the chamber and realize how hollow it feels like compared to how it used to be. 

Yes, the nostalgic part in me took over. Someone wise reminded me that the few people who shared my joys were truly genuine and she was totally right, but I couldn't shake the melancholy off completely. But then a part of me wonders how much my imagination can help in terms of filling the rather empty chamber. I have, after all, felt the benefit of conjuring up my inner BFF whenever I need to. My inner BFF is the splitting image of myself, but maybe I need a separate image to be my own personal cheerleader. Would it work? If our reality is made up of happens in our mind, then would it help to have an imaginary cheerleader? No harm done in trying, I say.

So last night I began thinking of my own personal cheerleader and I came up with a name. Mochi! Mochi is one of my fave snacks made of glutinous rice ha ha ha...This time my personal cheerleader is in the form of the only cat I ever had in my lifetime. A CUTE ginger tomcat who has a short, curled up tail that only goes tick-tock-tick-tock. Seriously, my cat had a tail like that and it made him super special LOL! Anyway, Mochi is smart and he has the personality of a dog. He's fiercely loving and loyal to me, but also very playful and independent. He's a much better dancer than me as he's very nimble and light on his feet (think of a dancing Puss in Boots with a curled up tail). Best of all, he's always ready to share my joys and jump up and down like crazy by my side.

I'm truly looking forward to having a lot of fun with Mochi. :-D

Sunday, September 6, 2015

A Shame Story

I've got a confession to make. For a loooooooong period of time, whenever I read articles about how a CNBC could be the "fun, cool aunt" or be involved in various children's lives, I had a mental image of a shrinking Amel who was backing away slowly to the corner of the room, cringing in fear of being judged. "Errr...but I'm not like that!" I thought to myself. 

I never felt really compelled to be involved in other children's lives and I can honestly say I'm almost scared of the thought of having to babysit a young child as I have no idea what I have to do (I'm really not used to being with small children). I feel that I can do better with older children, but even so we've spent so much time being with just the two of us that I'm rusty in that department. I have far more confidence dealing with young adult kids like my husband's elder brother's kids.

The last time we went back to Indo, I felt glad to go back to our hotel room after spending time with my brother and his family (and two kids). I had fun buying them toys and clothes, but I wouldn't volunteer to babysit the kids (for example). I wouldn't volunteer to babysit my friend's kids, either. In fact, I feel awkward when they come for a visit with their smaller children. If the child is already 7+ above, I feel less awkward with him/her.

That said, though, it still fascinates me how much I wanted/longed to be around little children when I was still trying to have a baby (I helped out at a daycare for 3 months back in 2010). I know that one reason for that was to prepare myself for motherhood, but one other reason was the strong need to prove myself that I could also be a decent mother. One other reason was probably more hormonal, because I've noticed a similar thing happening to a friend who's been dying to have a child of her own. Ever since the motherhood dream kicked in, she's been saying that ALL babies are cute and she wants to spend more time around little children. I remember vaguely that during the time I was so into my motherhood dream, I felt more fondness towards many children compared to (for example) these days. These days (after the motherhood dream is buried), I feel more selective fondness towards children (just like I did before we started TTC).

In short, I've never felt like I'm a kiddo lover, though I don't hate them, either. I think some kids are cute, some aren't. I admire (childless) people who love kids and love hanging out with kids (of various ages) and love being involved in various children's lives, but I have to admit that at times I struggled with the feeling of being "less than" those people. At times I wondered if I was lacking something as a woman and human being because I didn't actively choose to do anything much with various children.

For a loooonnngggg period of time I felt this type of shame coming and going. I wonder if the reason I felt this type of shame also had to do with the subconscious message from society that kept on throwing away the "Why don't you just adopt?" line to the infertile in general. I mean, it's as if those who want to have their own children desperately (but can't) should become like Mother Teresa or at least they're expected to do something as equally life-changing for other people's kids. 

My saving grace was remembering something that happened many years ago. You see, one woman I know wasn't that maternal in her younger years compared to her peer, but when she became a working mom, she was so devoted and involved in her children's lives that it took everybody by surprise. When we complimented her and joked that we would never had thought she'd be that maternal, she said, "Well, but it's different when it's your own kids, you know?"

Remembering that story was the first step for me to help me let go of my shame. The second step was inviting my inner BFF for a long, heart-to-heart chat. The third step is publishing this post. :-)

Friday, September 4, 2015

Methods of Coping: From Sarcasm to Parody

As a couple who enjoy watching TV series and movies, we are bound to see those typical "miracle pregnancy" plot twists. Infertility grief has made me become more sensitive towards a miracle pregnancy plot twist or any pregnancy plot twist in general (esp. the ones used as THE happy ending for the character/characters in the stories). 

In the beginning of my grief process, depending on my mood, whenever I sensed that the story was going that way (a pregnancy/miracle pregnancy was on the horizon), I would usually feel annoyed and angry and somehow disappointed as well that not many characters represented us, the childless-not-by-choice (CNBC). Of course logically speaking I know that it's foolish to expect it from the entertainment industry. After all, more often than not, people watch movies or TV series to escape real life. Thus my weapon of choice in the beginning of my grief process was oftentimes sarcasm.

"Of course she gets pregnant. They ALL get pregnant in movies," I'd say to my husband (gritting my teeth and seething inside). 

My husband, who said nothing much in the beginning, started picking up the theme quickly. After hearing me say those lines on different occasions, he started being the one who said it first every once in a while when we were watching movies/TV series. I was/am glad to have a comrade-in-arms.

Over time, my anger diminished, though sometimes when I'm PMSing, I tend to have a stronger reaction towards this type of plot twist, but in general my sarcastic comments shifted into a more "meh" and "blah" tone whenever I blurted out, "Of course she is/gets pregnant."

I remember a while back I was feeling so excited when a character in a TV series that we had been following was described to be having trouble conceiving with his wife. I wanted to say to the character, "I can relate!!!!! I cannnnn!!! Gosh, I wish we could meet up and talk about our grief!" (side note: Yeah, delusional much? LOL!!!) 

Anyway, back to the story: the couple in the story then started off an adoption process. The man had filled up his car with baby stuff, ready to pick up the baby, when he heard news that the adoption fell through. My heart broke for the couple, though secretly I was wondering and hoping if they could be a CNBC representative. Needless to say, a few episodes ahead the wife announced in an ingenious way that she's pregnant. Back to feeling "meh" and "blah" with a mental head slap for having irrational hope towards the entertainment industry.

During our recent holiday, though, my husband started using parody out of the blue. While we were watching a movie on TV in our hotel room, all of a sudden he blurted out, "I'm pregnant". He said the words as though the character in the movie was saying it and because he chose an absurd time and place to say it (one time he even said it for a male character), it was hilarious! We were both giggling and laughing like crazy. :-D

Now back home we've both started using this parody coping method to entertain ourselves with this fertility/infertility theme. For example: there's a scene where a man and a woman who are in love with each other will have to separate soon due to one reason or the other (I don't want to be too specific as it'll become a spoiler). Before they have to separate, the woman professes her love again to the man, so they end up kissing and making love. After doing the deed, they hold each other and the man says this, "I hope you can find a better man that you deserve. Be happy without me."

Before the woman can respond, it's a good time to insert some parody! So one of us can say something along this line: "Don't worry! In the next episode I'll be carrying your child, so I'll have a piece of you with me even when you're gone."

Something like this (or even more absurd lines) ended up making us laugh uncontrollably. This parody technique works for us! These lines will also end up as our insider joke, so we have nothing to lose in using parody from now on. Sense of humor has saved us time and time again (even before infertility) and it's proven to be one of my most cherished methods of coping with life.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

What Is Your Greatest Achievement?

Note: I've been MIA due to being busy at work, then taking time off from my PC due to my wrist/thumb problem, then we went on holiday where I also took time off PC and now recuperating from an infection (otherwise I'd have started blog-hopping to catch up already). I wrote a post in my head before I got sick so now I'm going to write it down here before I start blog-hopping tomorrow or this weekend (my head still feels a bit woozy but I don't want to lose momentum with this post).


Last week I tried imagining someone asking me the question "What is your greatest achievement?"

That sudden question made me search my database, but I couldn't come up with a definite answer in such a short time. Instead, a part of me blurted out, "Does it even matter?" 

Another part of me, though, was curious. Could I come up with a definite answer? I kept searching and searching and searching to no avail. I haven't found a cure to any disease nor have I created an effective system that helps many people. I haven't come up with any theories that revolutionize anything. I'm not an athlete nor a musician that wins lots of medals, either.

However, what has actually given me the most trouble finding a definite answer is my belief that whatever I've achieved in my lifetime isn't based on my sole efforts (or intelligence or talents). Every single thing that I (or the world) can call an achievement has been made possible because of God's help and the (direct or indirect) help of the many random individuals (either online or IRL, dead or alive) that are too numerous to mention. I couldn't have accomplished many things without the help of God and those many random individuals (some of which I've never met and will never meet in this lifetime because they have inspired/taught me through their words/stories post-mortem).

I'm learning to "take pleasure, not pride" when it comes to my achievements. I'm learning the balance between believing that I'm only one super tiny drop in the vast ocean of life (who am I to think that I'm the centre of the universe?) and believing that even as a super tiny drop, I do matter. Easier said than done, I know.

Conclusion: rather than coming up with a definite answer to that question, I'd like to spend some time being thankful for God's help as well as the help of those random individuals (including you all who have left me very loving and thoughtful comments in the past). Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you for your existence, love, support, guidance, inspiration, thoughtfulness, presence, wisdom, life lessons, examples, encouragement, sense of humour, acceptance, warmth, forgiveness, comfort, friendship, vulnerability, and openness.