Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Defining Motherhood: a guest post by Kelly

I have been a long time blog reader of Kelly McCaleb and I am thrilled that she agreed to guest post for me (like, did a happy dance in my chair.)  I love her blog for so many reasons, but I have been particularly drawn to her complete honesty about her secondary infertility because I experienced it myself. She is refreshing and real and celebratory of the sweet things in life. I just adore what she is about to share...

A Mother Who Longs To Be A Mother

I have been trying to get pregnant for 7 years. But don’t feel sorry for me, I have a beautiful 7 year old daughter who made me a mother coming exactly 10 months after my husband and I were married. She was easy to bring to the earth, and has given me a duty every day to nurture and care for the fruit of my womb.

It is difficult to handle the conflicting emotions of secondary infertility. On one hand, you long and hope and pray and feel incomplete and broken. On the other hand, you feel blessed and full of love and completely enraptured with the child of God trusted into your care. It’s a difficult balance of trying to enjoy every moment with one child, while mourning the “loss” of the other children you feel in your heart but never in your belly.

Inevitably, the decision must be made when and if adoption is right for you. In the case of secondary infertility, where your body has proven it can carry a healthy pregnancy, conceived without fertility treatments no less, the question becomes agonizingly hard to decide: when do you stop focusing your energy on readying your body to house a miracle and begin looking for your baby elsewhere?

If you haven’t experienced this tug of emotion, this mourning for the loss of your fertility, this sense of defeat- you cannot possibly understand how complex these feelings are. Often I am told, just because you choose to adopt doesn’t mean you are giving up on bearing your own children. These well meaning folk don’t understand the level of emotional stress and total tunnel vision required to pursue either path. It’s a lot. That’s all I can say, it’s a lot.

And I’ll be extra honest, and admit my human frailty. When you have your own child- who displays your husband’s sprinkles of freckles, your sensitivity, his temper, your spiritual nature, his sense of humor… when you are in love with all of those things a serious dark doubt comes to your mind of your ability to love another’s child as much as your own. I’m told, and I do believe, that this is a non-issue, however common the fear. When you hold that adopted baby for the first time, I’m told, you know. You just know.

So this is where I live. In the uncertain world where an already mother wonders if she’ll ever mother again. Each day wondering if this will be her only 2nd grade class she’ll ever make a teacher appreciation door for, the only child she’ll drag to piano lessons. It’s a world where many people have it all figured out for you, but you know you need to feel the answer, be prompted of the next move, feel when to fight and when to relax, in your own heart.

Those answers can be hard. In my experience they can be uncomforting words like: patience.

Something deep in me tells me I’ll be a mother again. So my job right now? Enjoy every second that I have my little girl all to myself. We’re pretty lucky to have this time together.

Yes, lucky is a good way to look at it.


Ailinh said...

Beautifully written. Women who go through infertility never cease to put me in awe. Their strength, their courage, and their hope are uber inspiring and I can only imagine what they go through. Such strong women.

Amy said...

All I can say is I feel so much love toward you and your beautiful family.

Sue said...

Wonderful post. Thanks!


Mommy #1 said...

Although there are so many thoughts that fly to my mind about telling you to hang in there or advise you about this or that - well, I don't really have a right or a place to say anything to you. But I did want to comment just the same and say thank you for sharing something so intimate with complete strangers - something that pulls so strongly on your heartstrings.

Marilyn said...

Kelly, your honesty and ability to share so beautifully your own raw emotion is why your blog remains one of my very favorites.

Having never personally experienced something as hard as infertility, I feel I have no words of wisdom. All I can say is that I love you. I will pray for you, and I am so glad that Courtney talked with you and maybe left you with some hope.

I truly do love you and am grateful for the words you share with your readers.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this. You are so right. Deciding on either path just takes so much. I can't imagine shouldering that as well as leaving yourself open to the idea of getting pregnant again. I think it might just tear a person right in two.

I am in the middle of secondary infertility and am starting to think (just the tiniest bit) about adoption to see how it feels. It seems a strange thing to just mull over, like I'm considering a new toaster or something. So far? Meh. That is how I feel. Such a strange feeling for something so huge. I'm sure that ambivalence is the result of my poor brain not being able to process all the fear and loss and sadness and excitement and expectation and potential hope that could come from such a huge decision.

It's so hard. I hope you find your answers. Thank you again for this post. Honesty about this topic is hard to find, and hard to offer (coming from the girl posting anonymously).

susan said...

As a mother of two beautiful children, both adopted, I suppose I can share a few thoughts from my experience and perspective.

Both of my children were adopted as almost 2 year olds, so I never held a sweet baby in my arms. I instead got two kids that were scared and mad and tried to push me away and screamed and sobbed for the first few days of our time as a family.

Both adoption processes were super difficult and took several years and were a huge emotional and spiritual journey of highs and lows. And even though this sounds so unideal to many, it was perfect for us because adopting our children, in that way and those particular times, were what we were meant to do. Many adoptions are not this difficult or long or trying, but like all things in life you have to commit and be ready for where that journey takes you.

But to me, adoption is the greatest miracle of all. A family brought together both in heaven and then later on earth through great miracles and blessings.

And while I don't 'see' the resemblances in us as parents, they are there. My son and husband's deep love of carbs, my daughter and I's love of shoes. To me my children are a special reminder that we don't 'own' our children, but that they are gifts and responsibilities to care for our fellow brothers and sisters within the blessings of a family.

So long and perhaps so boring, but I'm wishing you well as you decide what is best for your family!
{susan via}

Wendy said...

Many thanks for your thoughts and perspective. Our saying lately has been...."babies come when babies come." It is a defense when asked if we are expecting when I've just miscarried and my hope that I will have a baby again. The mixture of emotions are so broad not just for me but also my husband. We have talked about foster care and adoption and don't feel that we need to go that direction yet. Maybe one day. Who knows?

Thanks for your hopeful words and to be patient.

dandee said...

Dear Kelly,

Praying you hold a little babe in your arms when the time is right. However he or she is given to you. The Lord is so wise.

Love to you, friend.

lovely lindsay said...

it consumes all of you. every minute of you.
while i don't know seven years of it. i did know three.
you will hold your babies. however they find you - you will. and they will be the luckiest.
love, lindsay

lovely lindsay said...

ps: i love susan's words. and loved reading her journey to her babies over the years. there is magic in adoption.

Bri!!! said...

I came to this blog to read the most recent post of a dear friend (Mandy). I scrolled down and began reading your story and was hit hard. We too are in the midst of secondary infertility. We knew when we got married we would have to do treatments, but they were for a condition my husband has. It took some time, but we conceived naturally on my side of things (he was on meds). Well, this time around has been a whole different experience. I got pregnant immediately after I stopped breastfeeding my son of 13 months. We were so incredibly grateful it happened quickly the second time around because the meds are so expensive. We lost the little one at 10 weeks. It was such a rough day when I saw the baby on the ultra sound with no heart beat. I was so sad, but grateful things were working. Well, that was that, and things stopped working. Months and months passed. Finally we went into see the specialist and I was put on clomid. Within a few cycles got pregnant then experienced another loss. I was ok that time because for some reason I knew something was wrong. Months later I got pregnant again and was absolutely certain this was our baby. I was going to reveal the pregnancy to my family on Christmas Eve and could not wait to let them know all the prayers going up were answered. I started bleeding 5 minutes before making the drive to Utah for Christmas. I can't even describe the absolute anguish, agony and anger I felt in that moment. I usually am a strong person but I was an absolute mess. The thought of becoming pregnant again terrifies me, but it's what I want more than anything. My son changed my life. I never knew motherhood was so incredible. He has also made our infertility much more difficult because I now know what it's like. My heart ached as I read your questions of "is this the only second grader..." etc. I ask those questions all the time. There is an upside for sure. I have cherished and absorbed every part of my son. I have loved the time we have shared and am grateful we have had our time. However, my heart longs for our little one that I know is waiting. As for adoption, I share the same concerns, and I know it's different for everyone. I have chosen to not go that route for many reasons, but I think it is truly a miracle. I also think it's such a personal choice and no one can make it for us. Wow, I didn't mean for this comment to be so dang long winded. I obviously have a lot of pent up emotion around this that I thought was dealt with. I don't know you, but thank you for sharing your story. It brought up a lot for me. Thank you

kladle said...

Having gone through Infertility for 5 years and finally conceiving our first miracle I can empathize with your pain and sorrow. We then experienced secondary infertility and have never conceived again (going on 13 years this time around). But, our 2nd daughter came through another miracle.....adoption. I couldn't have said it better than Susan. Her thoughts are right on.

The funny thing is, I'll be talking to a friend and make a comment about my 2nd daughter about when I was in the hospital with her after she was born. I stop myself and say, wait, I didn't give birth to her. At times I truly forget that that she is adopted.

Best wishes and praying that your journey takes you to a place where you find peace and comfort with whatever choice you make. I know after all of these years I have finally found peace and am at a better place because of the infertility trials and struggles we have experienced.

Ashley said...

This is so beautifully written Kelly. I have admired you for quite some time, even though I don't know you personally. I admire your faith and honesty on your blog. I look to your example as a mother to Cate.

In 2003, my best friend was going through the adoption process when she got pregnant (after 7 years of trying to conceive). However, seeing her go through the adoption process sparked something in me. I did not have any personal experiences with adoption but I felt so strongly that I needed to be involved in the adoption field to help families come together in this way. I changed my schooling path and got my BASW in Social Work. I am now in my last quarter of classes for my Masters in Social Work. I do not plan to work right away but someday, I really want to work in adoptions. I guess I tell you this because through internship opportunities and since having dear friends who have adopted, I have seen families blessed by adoption in so many ways and I feel that it is such a beautiful thing. That being said, it is not right for everyone. You will know what is right for you and your family. Wishing you happiness whatever happens.

Kim said...

beautiful! Such tender feelings and emotions to share with others :) We adopted our first son after almost 7 years of infertility and I can not even begin to describe the love that we have for this sweet boy...And for the incredible love and respect that we have for our birth mother. Our second son was another miracle as we were told we would never have children and I found out I was pregnant 2 years after we had adopted our first son. From both experiences I learned that it wasn't my plan...that a loving Heavenly Father had an even greater plan for me and my family. As hard as it was to be patient I am thankful everyday for the miracles, patience, guidance and faith I was able to gain. Your thoughts are just perfect....


Jonathon said...

I never knew it was called secondary infertility. I had 3 easy to conceive pregnancies. Just about 2 years apart each. When it came time to get pregnant with #4, it took 8 months then I lost it to a miscarriage. Then it was hurry up and NOTHING. after 3 years we tried infertility treatments. Worst 6 months ever. Nothing makes you feel like a failure like failing at infertility treatments. espefcially when you've already had 3 kids. My body was made for this, right? Long story short, we decided to foster to adopt. It had been over 5 years and nothing was happening so I grieved and then gave in. We knew there were more kids needing to come to our family. And yes, my story ends like so many, The week of our first class I found out I was pregnant. And 2 weeks ago today I gave birth to a healthy, perfect baby boy. Who knew?

Diamond in the Rough said...

Beautifully written. I was here reading Mandy's post and kept scrolling down to yours. I was told I would never have children. We were blessed with a honeymoon baby (which was unexpected and shocking for us, since I knew my condition before we got married and I knew getting pregnant may be out of the question completely) I come from a family of 13 children and my mother was told she would never have children, so I guess I was hopeful. I have had atleast 9 miscarriages (I've kind of stopped counting, I know that sounds heartless, but most people when I tell them how many they look at me like I'm lying to them so I think that is why I have stopped counting) and we have a baby boy who was born at 22 weeks and lived 7 minutes. The pain of infertility is very real. And many don't understand. I have told many people that everyone grieves differently because everyone's pain and experiences are different and it's not for us to judge but to listen and love. Thank you for being so open I admire your strength, courage and faith!

marta said...

so glad to find your blog from kelly's. what a beautiful, honest and open post.. as i've come to love from kelly's blogging voice. seriously, i needed this today. thank you.

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