Tracing the tight belly of my pregnancy, while sitting outside, I was enjoying the spring sunshine peeking through the leaves of the tree above me. Feeling movement, perhaps a foot or fist, I smiled and pressed gently against the movement. There was a thump in response. I smiled bigger. I felt so content and happy.
I was sweating, breathing hard, seeing several people above me and across from me- nurses, Roni and my mom. Roni signing to me "how do you feel now?" I snapped back, "When you try to get a basketball out, ask that again!" The doctor urging me to push; I strained against the pain, yet flowing with the pain. The pain became my friend, and then it dissolved in a rush of movement, new skin, new life. Watching the nurse picking the baby up, I almost called out wanting to hold the baby. I watched anxiously as the nurse cleaned the baby; paying no attention to the doctor checking me afterwards. I felt relief as the nurse put the warm baby on my stomach. Kissing the wet head, noticing the dark mop of hair, I smiled and said "she's here, isn't she?" Roni nodded, smiling, with tears in her eyes. Mom even had a softened look on her face.
Walking across the room to the crib, I noticed the moon outside the window. The moon was quite full, as if she was pregnant, full of new life. I smiled at the whimsy thought. I peered down at the sleeping baby. Softly, pulling the blanket up to her chest, I touched my finger as in kissing it and then laying the finger to her silky forehead. I shushed softly as the baby stirred slightly, as she returned to her sleep.
Carrying the girl in my arms, I walked up to the tree where I had used to sit under, while pregnant in the past. I sat down, my legs cradling her, among the exposed roots of the oak tree. As she looked up at the spots of sunlight through the fall leaves, grey eyes distracted by falling leaves among us, I smiled, cherishing the moment. I was bending down to kiss her nose.....
Abruptly sitting up in bed, I found myself in pajamas, the light going off and off, in waking me up.
Oddly, I could recall the hard pregnant belly, the movements. The pain of labor. The baby's soft skin. The sounds she made, vibrating through my chest as I held her. It all felt real. But no child at all.
What annoys me- waking up to the nightmare of reality, or was the dream itself a nightmare? I resent the reality right now.
"Friends can help each other. A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself- and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That's what real love amounts to- letting a person be what he really is."
And friends, you know who you are. Thank you deeply from my heart.
A reader wrote me a private message:
"You going to write about the fourth part- I noticed you wrote part 1 to 3- but where is the 4th?"
When I read that query, my heart started to pound hard. I found myself starting to have an anxiety attack-
I had written the Bump (Part 1); Without Answers (Part 2) and Not sure (Part 3) last spring. Originally I had written this post in October. I kept coming back to the post to stare at my writing, re-opening my wounds over and over like a monk flagellating himself. Interesting,I find myself switching forth and back between two moods while reading; some days I cry reading this post and other times I find myself distant. It's in January now since October, and it still hurts reading the post, remembering. Nevertheless, there are sensitive triggers here, for folks who are still recovering/struggling with accepting childlessness, I'd not recommend you to read furthermore.
Between late December 2011 to February 2012, that timeline was the most painful time for me, mentally, spiritually and emotionally, and even now it being January 2013 (as reviewing this post, I still consider that time as worst of all I had ever experienced.)
I found it easier to bury my head in the sand- in other words, denying that I was going to be childless; refusing to accept that I'd not hold a baby of my own in my arms; hoping against all hope that the doctor was mistaken. I was praying day and night that it was all a nightmare; that I'd not have the surgery upcoming to remove my uterus, and the execution day will not happen.
When I was told that I'll be an aunt, only two days after finding out I cannot have children, I was able to 'put it aside', thinking "it was all a nightmare, I'm going to wake up soon."
I patted some baby clothes at the store thinking, "I'll get some of them later, when the doctor tells me I was the wrong patient."
I laughed and made jokes, living in the illusion that the doctor would say "oops, my bad, that's the wrong ultrasound pictures- let me get your right chart. My apologies again."
"I'll be fine- They'll be able to fix my uterus after they find out that there is nothing wrong with it", I told myself.
Ironic, it wasn't the doctor. It wasn't the surgery. It wasn't the size of the fibroid. It wasn't the waking up at the hospital room afterward.
It was someone who was closest to me, who shoved me into the river of agonizing fire, to see the reality.
Among all that, I had the close friend, who was my confidant in everything. I'll call her M. We had a lot in common. We could laugh at the same things; we loved science fiction and horror movies. We could be jumping in and out of topics through the conversation all day without blinking. I was very supportive to her, especially with her private issues. I was flippy happy when M got married. I understood her when she said she didn't feel ready to have children; she wanted to work on her issues first. During my medical journey trying to find out what was wrong with me, including testing the water of whether I would be able to have children or not, M was supportive of me all the way. I tried to be strong but she reminded me that I didn't have to be strong sometimes. When I needed to talk with someone, she was there. Don't get me wrong, there were other friends. It just was harder to get in touch with them, and she was there always for me. Admittedly, I considered her- Safest friend Unsafe friends- who already have children, or are pregnant. Safe friend- who has no children, never had raised children, or having no plans to get pregnant any time soon. I started to identify friends into two groups -unsafe and safe. Even in levels of unsafe and safe friends, there were sub-types.... mommies with adult children are safer compared to mommies with toddlers-unsafe. Crazy, I know, but that's how I tried to hang on. This was what I was clinging to, during the insanity going through examinations, tests and doctor appointments. In and out. Lab works. Sonogram images of dark marks. I didn't want to accept the stark truth.
All this changed with an email from M. I got a short message from M in January. She told me she wanted to tell me something- I read the brief message, thinking, "oh great! She is getting a job!" I knew she was looking for employment, and so I was thinking she was excited to tell me that she got a job. Later on the same day, I got a long email from her. Among the thick long paragraphs, I saw a sentence which was smack dab in the middle of it all. I zeroed in on that, and among all that, it was the only sentence I saw... one dab white among the blackness of the dark. "I'm pregnant." I cannot tell you what I felt at that moment. I just can't. All I know was that the world crashed upon me.
I had a minute of sanity to email her that I was not ready to talk about this. That was the only thing I could recall before I lost it. Truly LOST it. I screamed. Cried. Tore things up. Ripped paintings apart. Chaotic thoughts- "I am not going to be pregnant ever, of my own baby." "I'd never come home from hospital with a baby in my arms." "I'll never get to kiss my baby's belly while seeing her smile at me." Considered ending it all. Ending it all. No more agony. No more betrayals. No more pain. A sane part of me fanatically reached out during my crying fit of rage. Thankfully, a friend S was in town. She was immediately there with me. I wept as she held me. She convinced a neighbor to go to the store to get more tissue boxes without asking why. She threw out a bottle when I told her I wanted to drown in drunkenness. Another friend, T talked with me in a firm yet loving tone, to remind me I have friends who love me, and that she'd be pissed if I gave up. She was steadfast in her love as I screamed at her, "WHY me?" In her Old South attitude, she loved me with her nonsense attitude. I cried, with tears coming down my cheeks as I looked upon L, a close friend, and to hear from her that "She knew you are hurting. Not to tell you she was planning to get pregnant. That's the lowest blow." and reminding me that I'm not alone, that L had been there for me for so many years, and she is not going anywhere, from my side. Thankfully, the office didn't question when I decided not to go in for a few days. I was looking down at the void and I knew there was a millimeter between me and the void, very tempting. I got the email six days before I was to see the doctor. It was a weekend and a few days of sorrow, rage, weeping and staring at walls, writing letters to N, trying to explain my feelings, failing and tearing them up, before I found myself at the doctor's office, -dead to the world. Hope was dead.
"When do you think you would be ready for your surgery?" "Can you do it on February 13th?" The doctor knew something was wrong. She strongly encouraged me to see a therapist right away. That was the best decision ever I had made since the finding the bump. Nevertheless... January 12th was the starting of the end of my world as I knew it. The new world- all gray, shades of black and grey. Thunderous clouds, empty rooms with abandoned dusty baby furniture. Empty frames on the walls, old wallpaper peeling. Trees empty of leaves, dying. Repeating cycle of riding on the empty subway, that doesn't stop at exits. With the two new pregnancy announcements, both very close to me without no clues, no hints, no red flags-- during the most painful moment when I wasn't ready- that's the world where I found myself in. That is what I had experienced in the reality since January 12, 2012.
February 14, 2012- Waking up at the hospital after surgery, I felt empty. Not because of the uterus that had been taken away, but of empty dreams. Pandora's box is even empty of hope for me. I was very distant, dissocated from any emotions for a long and long time but for fits of weeping and rage.
And turned out that I didn't have cancer. Sick joke, if you asked me.
My therapist said "You know, you're going through this and your sister in law is pregnant. A surprise to you. Then your closest friend planned to get pregnant, but didn't give you an head-up to prepare yourself and now she is pregnant out of the blue, double hits. You're going through all this and alone, no less- this is your baptism by fire. Worst time ever to find out that you cannot have children." She nailed it. I'm a proud aunt of a new nephew last August; hopefully one day I would get to see him in person when I'm ready emotionally. M had her baby in the same month. So, that's your answer for the 4th part. It doesn't mean the end, but of surviving the worst that had been thrown at me. It's a year now, and I'd like to think that I'm stronger after that, but I'm not there yet.
Noticing so many friends sharing photos of their kittens/cats and dogs on Facebook, there were a lot of moments when I found myself go 'oooo adorable!' or "ahhh, cute!" Looking at videos on YouTube, with dogs howling, or of cats prancing, certainly lightens my mood. I started to look into whether I could adopt a cat, specifically out of hypoallergenic cats (i.e. Devon or Cornish Rex, Birman, etc.) I found myself on several cat rescue websites, while wondering where I could put the litter box that the dogs couldn't have access to.
I stopped and realized I was thinking about acquiring another furry kid. The worst part of the first anniversary's timeline is coming up in less than a week; in which I have already noticed some symptoms re-appearing lately. Weeping for no reason; tears in eyes if someone say something unthoughtful, such as "aren't you glad you don't have a kid?" while cleaning a mess after his kid; hypersensitivity to pregnant moms or new moms with babies in their arms; mooning over children books or clothes; and the black cloud above the head. That tells me that I'm more vulnerable- which comes to the question of furry kids.
I tried to check blogs and Internet articles on whether there is a tendency for childless folks to get furry kids. I hadn't success- there's a certain amount of childless and infertile blogs and articles, and that goes for the furry kids....but nothing about *both* at same time.
With the maternal instincts and the need to take care of something, it's certainly easy to meet that need with furry kids. We have those dog daycare and schooling, we have pet insurance, Gods know some of us even go out of our ways to dress dogs like babies. Clothing boutiques, no less, to accommodate one's desire to humanize their furry kids.
Gods know that my dad's family look odd at me when I tell them my dogs have to be with me if more than a few days- you see, Dad's family see dogs for working and hunting purposes, not pleasure or comfort (or forbid the thought, family) purposes. I wasn't like that two years ago. So, you get the idea.
Do we try to transfer love to furry kids- dogs, cats, horses? Don't get me wrong, but recalling the book "Falling for Eli" by Nancy Shulins certainly comes in mind.
After realizing that I have kept my dogs close to me since the beginning of the journey ending with the realization that I cannot have children, I found myself confronted with the question: how would I react to either of the dogs' death? After all they do not have a long lifetime like us human beings. Would I want to get another dog after Lola? Just thinking about it, I am overwhelmed by anxiety and fear. And would I want to raise a kitten, treat him like a little human baby, and deal with his death when he becomes old or sick?
I had read several folks sharing their goals and resolutions for this year of 2013- I had thought long and hard and determined I will not do resolutions. What I will do: update my bucket list, identify achievements and add new goals.
How was 2012 for me?
2012 was quite the worst year ever for me. How could it not be, with so many strikes? Starting with the emotional and physical roller coaster with reproductive issues, with the hysterectomy, losing friends whom I thought were most close and trusted; struggling with finances; a good friend's death; ongoing grief and confusion adapting to the new world - still working on finding a niche where I could see myself happy.
Don't get me wrong, there were some good moments, as in seeing close friends in New York City, and of getting recognition for my artwork.
One piece of the first anniversary's timeline is coming up in oh, ten days.. just realized it- lovely. The worst, I would say, of when it all slammed into me. Not looking forward to that.
Nevertheless,I decided I will not be held hostage for another year, like the last year. I might not have had a gun to my head, but it certainly felt like it, with the emotions, the physical situation and mentality I found myself trapped in. So with that in note, here is the updated bucket list, with its 2012 achievements and new goals for the future including 2013.
Stop being the peacekeeper/stand up for myself- I no longer get myself involved in others' dramas)
Do unplugged days at least 15 out of 365 days (will continue this in 2013!)
Saw Wicked (play) in Louisville in September- loved it!
Started painting (so far I had done 22 paintings!)
Donated some art to a health center for women.
Made 8 blankets, by crochet and quilt.
Scrapbook of postcards collected by Postcrossing (got 142 cards in 2012!)
Gave presentation on labyrinth self-care to three organizations
Volunteered at a shelter
Waverly Hills Sanatorium in October- ghost hunt
Diana: A Celebration; Exhibition in Louisville (Honoring life of Princess Diana) and Frazier History Museum
Blow bubbles at your porch and observe visuals through the bubbles.
Drank absinthe with two of my closest friends, in NYC- right time, right place, right friends, cheers!
Street fair in New York City
Trips in 2012:
Road trip to Denver (2224 miles, round way- take that!)
New Jersey and New York City
Central Park from one side to other!
New food sampled: Bread pudding, pickles, cow tongue, sardines, oysters (raw), the list goes on...
Writing/publishing a book. (In process- a nonfiction)
Disaster Mental Health/Red Cross (Will take on March 21st)
Walk 100 labyrinths. (So far 52 achieved, including CO, KS, NJ, and IN in 2012).
Goodreads 2013 goal: 150 books.
See the Vagina Monologues
Create a mosaic of labyrinth.
New classes/spring semester: Tai Chi and Advanced Photography
Increase hikes and walks with dogs
Increase fruit intake
Learn to forgive myself and let go of negative folks and experiences
Work out next move location
Get new ink on my skin, and get the frog tattoo re-colored.
Drink more water, less coffee
Comic Con in San Diego, CA or Dragon Con in Atlanta, GA
Check out local eats that I hadn't sampled yet.
Start a positive experience collection in a jar for 2013.
"Throw out Fifty things" project- get rid of 50 things (and more!)
Cut down on paper books, increase titles on my Nook
Ireland and Scotland
Ventriloquist museum- Fort Mitchell, KY (only museum about ventriloquists in the world)
National Underground Railroad Museum, Cinn, OH.
Gravity Hill in Princeton, KY.
(two more that I forgot to add)
Watch all the seasons of Star Trek: Voyager (7 seasons!)
Michigan Womyn's Music Festival
That's all, folks, for now. May 2013 be much better (after February, that is for me).
And oh yeah, I'm on twitter right now, keeping an eye out for when passes/tickets are available at Comic Con..they sell out *fast*. :P