After a While
After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open,
With the grace of a woman,
Not the grief of a child
And you learn to build all your roads on today,
Because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After awhile you learn that even sunshine
Burns if you get too much
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
In stead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers
And you learn that you really can endure...
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth,
and you learn and learn...
With every good bye you learn.
Veronica Shoffstall 1971
I don't usually write about my personal life too much here. Blogging is sort of my escape from the day to day struggles. But something happened to me this week and I am so surprised at how it's all unfolding that I wanted to share in case you find yourself in this situation.
Cliff and I have been waging war against infertility for four years. We thought that we had finally figured out half our problem. We need IVF to get pregnant. We got pregnant last summer! It was a blissful time that ended far too soon when we lost our twins one at a time at six and seven weeks.
The grief was a whole new color I had never seen. Darker than the darkest dark. Anger was too civilized. No, I was mad. Shame and fear gripped me. I was totally unprepared.
After a few days rest I went back to school in a heavy with grief. My dearest colleague-sister-friend (who I have written about before), took me by the hand and lead me to a support group. It was one of the most generous things someone has done for me.
A year of support group, two surgeries, and a failed frozen round of IVF later, I found myself back at it. We felt brave enough to endure the twice daily injections and the steep price tag of IVF again.
Once again the fresh round worked! Cliff and I found ourselves taking tiny leaps of faith and slowly allowing ourselves to get excited. We were pregnant! We heard the heartbeat! Our doctor said, "Only a 2% chance of miscarriage!" Relief flooded over us. My mother started knitting. After many weeks of nervousness, I started sewing.
But, " futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight." Friday I had another ultra sound and instantly, clear as day, I saw that there was no heartbeat.
I was utterly shocked and yet not surprised. I have learned that two opposing emotions can sit side by side very easily. Fear and joy. Shock and knowing. All week there had been little taps so to speak. Hints that things were off.
The worst part was having to tell Cliff. That scene, in my mind, was the closest thing to a horror film that I have ever lived. It was a night of shared devastation.
The next day Cliff insisted that we go for a drive.
He took me to Ohjai. Driving through farmland and hills so far away from the city had a calming effect. We spent the day wandering around town. We lingered in bookstores and gift shops. The sunshine and cool breeze was very healing. We had margheritas! One of our longstanding personal jokes played out when Cliff ordered a raspberry magarita off the menu only to be told that they don't make raspberry margaritas. I laughed so deeply it took me off guard.
Now, I find myself surprisingly at peace. Peacefully sad. Greiving, but not drowning.
I know that this "little monkey"is up in heaven with his siblings. I also know what to expect. I know that the next month will be rough as the hormones recede. I know that in about 5 weeks my body will feel normal, but the heart will take longer. I am happy to still be on vacation for this transition. It sucks, but it's so much easier than trying to teach in a fog. I know that somehow, someway the money will come so that we can try again. I know that in a year, I will remember the sadness like a scar, but I won't feel it as much. I know I can endure.
Which is why I decided to write this today. I think women need to share our survival stories. If you are or ever go through this, please feel free to email me. I would love to support you in any way that I can.
My future has been altered. On a grand scheme and in the little day to day things. Even the crafty, thrifty, bloggy things. So, I am going to take a little break. We have a trip to Florida to see my parents planned. Then Piper and Kate are coming for a visit. There is nothing like old friends to soothe what ails you.
Back in mid August.