This post is dedicated to the upcoming National Infertility Awareness Week (oh, an keep and eye out for the upcoming #ListenUp post during NIAW). We also want to celebrate a pretty amazing electronic friend, Justine Brooks Froelker’s who just launched her latest book The Mother of Second Chances, based on her blog Ever Upward which is releasing on April 17th. We are part of a five week blog tour where 25 amazing women (and man -Chris) will share their stories of infertility and loss. If you are looking for some fabulous reads, check out the tour list here: blog tour.
We are part of an awesome sandwhich this week. No, not the one with peanut butter and Nutella, although delicious.
Yesterday my dearest friend Kristy shared her story and tomorrow we will hear from Susan at Surrogacy by Design. Both who advocate with me on Capitol Hill for Advocacy Day! Check out these posts, toss a share their way! We’d especially love to see your own broken silence by sharing your own infertility story using the hastags: #NIAW, #infertility and #EverUpward.
And now … for the blog:
“Life is pain princess.”
-Westly from The Princess Bride
With that oh-so-true dose of reality, it is a wonder anyone can smile at all, much less those that face infertility. Yet, Candace and I decided that we were literally going to turn our hardships, as they relate to infertility, into sources of hope, determination, and – on some occasions – levity.
Candace and I are no different than anyone else when it comes to the ups and downs of daily living. Oh sure, we have had your typical, run of the mill, challenges: car accidents, picking the worst time since the beginning of time to buy a house, finding out that we could not save more on our car insurance. But, we, like so many others, have also been hit with a few staggering reasons that could make a jovial disposition an emotional scarcity. My brain tumor and neurosurgeries, the seven years of failure toward our family building efforts, a uterine cancer scare that led to a partial hysterectomy. Those are just the physical and financial scars we carry. Honestly, the emotional discord that has threatened to tear cataclysmic rifts in our souls has been an even greater dissuasion for smiles to inhabit our faces.
Those are just the reasons that emanate from our personal lives to detract us from smiling. What about the big scary world around us … plenty of opportunity there as well. How about the unexpected announcement that someone close to you had the ol’ “Oops!” and is now expecting? What about all of the terrible advice you get, “trying too hard,” “just adopt,” your typical rhetoric from the uninformed? Ever get an invitation to a baby shower and think, “I won’t survive that.”? Or how about a flippant comment about pregnancy by your favorite witty character on that sitcom you always cuddle on the couch together to watch that sours the rest of the show? Yep, plenty of reasons that you should never smile again.
And yet, Candace and I did! Oh sure, there are facial musculature reasons that smiling is easier or psychological studies that have found that smiling is healthier for you. That isn’t really good motivation though right? In all honesty, Candace and I both adopted the mindset that, it was really the only way we would get to the other side intact. We literally had the thought, “what the hell else could we do?” We couldn’t stop trying to have a family, our hearts wouldn’t let us. We couldn’t readily have a family, our bodies wouldn’t let us. We couldn’t run after every possible solution to solve our “unknown” infertility, our wallets wouldn’t let us. So, what the hell else could we do? We smiled and something transcendental happened, we found encouragement in it. It was almost as if the idea of being light-hearted and humorous under such duress was so absurd, it had to be empowering. We “braved the storm” and did it boldly using humor as our source of emotional energy.
Something else happened as well. We became aware of the beauty, kindness, and humor in the intractably nefarious world around us … and accepted it. That is a biggie, the whole “accepting” thing. It is one thing to say, “Oh that is nice that such and such started a ‘Go Fund Me’ page and were able to raise X funds for their next round of IVF. Probably wouldn’t work for us.” If you “accept” that these things are possible though, it opens a whole new realm of opportunity for interacting with others, sharing your story and the difficulties you face, requesting and accepting help (of any kind) from the community around you. And once that happens, as it did for us, it won’t be imaginable for someone to “smack that smile off your face!”
I should mention this to assuage those thinking that we have turned the page in our infertility book because we have Jellybean, we are STILL infertile. Candace doesn’t have a uterus. She won’t ever get pregnant, will never know what it feels like to carry a child, will never be able to give birth to a child. That doesn’t go away. Unintentionally thoughtless comments still cut us deep and Candace tells me that she still feel a sense of longing or loathing (not sure exactly what the feeling is) when she sees someone that is pregnant. This is not an emotion created from an “over the hill” of our infertility journey perspective. It was something that was of primal importance for my personal survival, Candace’s survival, the survival of our marriage, and survival of the relationships with those around us. Although our journey was, is, and will continue to be challenging, Candace and I have persevered, in large part, due to our indelible smiles.
For those who want to keep insta-tabs on our surrogacy journey for hash-tagy purposes check out #KangaKapers on Instagram. If you want a little more than just a blog post here and there or have questions, comments or witty quips to share with us, toss an email our way or stop by our Facebook page for some #IF encouragement.