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Friday, September 09, 2005

The not-so-normal route to parenthood

Earlier this week Tertia wrote a post that hit so close to home that it helped me realize why I feel so sad whenever I hear about the birth of a baby.

She wrote about infertility and how her scars from her journey through infertility don't go away, just because she's (finally) had two beautiful babies. She wrote, "Infertility is so part of who I am, where I come from, the scars I carry and the way my life has turned out."

I never went down the IVF road, but her feelings about being envious of people who are able to get pregnant without much effort reminded me of our start. Our emotionally explosive, surreal, and unbelievable start that jolted us away from a normal birth experience, normal parenthood, and onto a road that we didn't even know existed: the road of a child with a heart defect.

There is a lingering sadness that I so often forget is a part of me. And it usually resurfaces at the most unusual times--when I get a birth announcement from a friend or forwarded through email. I hadn't been able to put my finger on this sadness. It just felt so horrible, so shameful. But it makes so much sense. These pictures of mother and baby make me cry because I don't have those pictures to lean on. I don't have those joyful times tucked away in my memory.

I am not joyful for these new parents--our friends--who are embarking on an amazingly fulfilling and simultaneously exhausting journey.

I feel total sadness. I feel jealousy. I feel anger.

And I'm ashamed to feel that way. Those feelings eventually subside and I'm able to feel the good feelings. I'm finally able to pick up the phone and express my true feelings--the appropriate joy and excitement. And while those initial feelings don't make me feel very good about myself, Tertia's comments were liberating. She wrote: "This might not be a particularly admirable part of my character, I am not proud of the way I feel, but this is who I am. I'm sorry, but the scars still linger."

My scars began in the delivery room and so when I hear of anyone having a baby, I start my gut-wrenching birth experience all over again. It's part of who I am, just as infertility is part of who Tertia is. As time goes by, I hope that I can tuck those scars into my memory so that I can liberate the more-appropriate tears of joy from the start.

6 comments:

  1. This is really, truly, a wonderful post. And something we all need to remember--we all have scars we carry (birth, job promotions, spelling bees, contets, etc) and sometimes people react on gut (scars and experience) not on the more expected reactions.

    Thanks for sharing... it means a lot.

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  2. Thank you for posting this.

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  3. That deep sadness is part of who you are so it is really nothing to be ashamed of. Being able to acknowledge those kinds of feelings is what enables you to be compassionate towards other who are in pain.

    I've had four healthy pregnancies and births, and yet every February, I cry on the anniversary of my miscarriage when that scar re-opens.

    Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing this.

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  4. I remember seeing the photos you posted of TIC when he was in the hospital. What a very scary thing to have to go through. Even though he has recovered, that will always be a part of who he is today - and who you are as a parent since that was your first-time experience as one. Parenthood is a big transition, what more to if you've had complications with the delivery or your baby is sick. I can certainly understand why the birth of a baby would open up scars for you, since the memories you have may not be the most pleasant. But this really makes me realize that I take so many things for granted. It's so easy to obsess over minutiae, yet that's not what's important.

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  5. There is no shame in feeling what you feel. I believe this post of yours--so raw and honest--was incredibly courageous. You put into words what so many women feel. I'm sorry about your pain.

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  6. And besides, I think you have a most beautiful attitude towards life: taking it one day at a time. I've seen it. All of this makes you a stronger, more aware, sensitive person.

    And I completely understand your sentiment. Been there myself.

    I think it is neither bad nor good to have feelings of envy or jealousy or pangs of sadness or anger. It is what it is. Probably the worst we can do to ourselves is dwell on it and prolong it. See it for what it is and move on. Sounds like you do this so well, Mizz MIC!

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