Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Search for Purpose/Meaning

One thing I felt deeply about during my infertility journey was the search for purpose/meaning in my pain experience. What is the purpose of this pain experience? Can I find some meanings from all this chaos? 

When someone is wallowing in grief, when someone's just experienced a tragedy, we will normally let the person grieve and wallow. Only after some time of wallowing and grieving, when the person can feel the wind on her cheeks and the sun on her body again, then it's good time to try to find some purpose/meaning in the tragedy (pain experience).

One of the things that has helped me is finding the purposes/meanings of my pain experience. The buried and broken dream can become fertilizer for something else that way. Otherwise the buried and broken dream will stench and I'd end up focusing on the rottenness of the stench and that wouldn't propel me forward in my healing journey. Once I get a clearer sense of some of the purposes/meanings of my pain experience, I am more able to focus on the tiny buds growing from the ground that is being fertilized by that buried/broken part. It's true that every now and then I can still smell the stench, but over time the more meanings/purposes I find, the more seeds are growing from the ground and the easier it gets to focus more on the growing buds/trees/flowers.

No wonder many times over I've read how people overcome a tragedy by creating an organization to honor their loved ones' memories as well as help other people who may be experiencing a similar thing. 

During my worst moment in my IF journey, I found a purpose to my pain despite the fact that I was really angry at that time (or maybe because I was angry, my pride wouldn't let me feel like all that pain and anger were for nothing). At that time I felt the need to cut myself (though I didn't do it), but it was only then and there did I get a real glimpse of why some people do it. That was an important moment for me, because that experience adds a layer of understanding from my part towards others in a more straightforward and personal way (as opposed to learning about it from someone else's experience).
I also remember finding someone who walks through an infertility path as well (though she walked a different path), but during her tough times she thanked me for being there for her and for not saying the wrong words. That was one of my first inklings of the purpose of my pain experience. If my shared experience makes just one person feel less alone, then it's one purpose. One seed. 

During the dark moments, I also found comfort when I read these verses from 2 Cor 1:3-4:

Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 

These verses spoke through me and reminded me of what I had written in my previous post: what another blogger had once told me about my being a good encourager. Another purpose added to the layer of purpose above, thank you very much.

I find it crucial to believe with all my heart and soul that my pain experience isn't for nothing when it comes to continuing my healing journey. Your pain is not for nothing, either. We are interconnected. Imagine the wealth of wisdom we get to learn from one another's pain experiences. So much fertilizer material everywhere...what has your pain experience taught you? I find it helpful to write about them, as well, because when I'm in my dark spot, I can always go back and reread them and feel encouraged by them again.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Sum of My Parts

Mali has written a brilliant blog post again entitled "The Rest of My Life" and I've been wanting to write my own answer to that question posed in Lisa's blog, but I've been busy, so I only have time to type this down now. Before I start, let me also share loribeth's post on the same topic.

A few years back, after deciding on surrendering to life without children, I felt the need to find something "grand/noble" to fill my life as a result of not having children. I think this stemmed from the fact that many people would automatically say, "You can always adopt" whenever we said we couldn't have children and I have read many people who accused infertiles of being selfish for trying out treatments "when there are so many abandoned children out there". As if one needs to be like Mother Teresa if one wants to have children but can't. So I definitely felt the societal pressure to find something big to do with my life when the baby thing didn't work out, but I never really started searching.

In the first place, I was lost, grieving, sorrowful, and I had to deal with so many emotional storms that I couldn't think straight. We did make one rash decision during this journey because I was so angry with our empty arms and after learning that lesson, I decided not to make any decision when I'm angry. I had to take time to enter that place of pain and process my grief along with all the emotional storms inside. After all, the only way to handle grief is to grieve. 

The first things I did in order to move on were probably these:

1. Finding small things that bring me joy and doing things that bring me joy.

2. Tapping into my inner child (in my case I try to build different kinds of snow creations in winter, the photos of which you can check out in my main blog).

3. Writing down the things I've been learning during my infertility journey and rebranding infertility as a guru instead of an enemy and truly believing in it.

Only after doing the above and after getting farther away from the rows and rows of buried dreams (after doing grief work for a longer time) did I start getting clues on what I wanted to do. It's not about finding big, grand dreams, but for me it's more about being more focused on what kind of woman I want to become now that I know I won't be a mother. 

I owe Michelle Frost a HUGE thank you for her eloquent words in the comment section of one of my posts in this blog (for some reason I have a hard time trying to find that particular post to link here). In that post I was talking about leaving a legacy on earth and she said, "Amel, YOU are your own legacy." The words knocked me off my chair. I was wondering why on earth did I ever try to separate myself into different parts/roles because I was talking about leaving a legacy as a blogger. But in truth is that I am the sum of my parts and my legacy to the world should be the entirety of myself, the whole of me, everything that makes me who I am. Her words were like soothing balm to my soul at that time. THANK YOU for knocking me off my chair, M! :-D One's pain can truly blind one so much to one's full potentials.

Anyway, one thing I want to focus on these days is being an encourager. A few years back a blogger friend of mine told me that she said I excelled in encouraging her and her words stuck in my head. Sure anyone can encourage anyone they meet, but I want to do it with more awareness these days. I want to be more intentional in becoming an encourager. Just finding this one task has made me more purposeful in life. Life is more exciting this way! :-D What other things do I want to focus on? I haven't figured them out yet, but I have time. :-) It's exciting to try to figure out what else I want to/can incorporate in my life. It's like a mini adventure. :-D

Other than that, our life continues just like before. I think I once wrote about how it feels like we're a couple of empty nesters because of the shift from wanting to have children/preparing to have children mentality to life with no children. The only difference is that we have no children. These days I no longer worry about making future plans that may clash with the possible pregnancy, so we're trying to live life to the fullest and enjoy life as a complete family of two. 

Oh, and every now and then I try to educate people about infertility and its effects, but it doesn't come from a place of pain anymore. Meaning I share infertility links not because I need people to validate my pain (like what I did in the past when I was still hurting so much), but because I simply want to share awareness of the different shades of infertility. This is probably the biggest change compared to life pre-infertility. Infertility is now a part of my life and life has never been the same after that. These days I have an infertility survivor badge etched in my soul.

These days we're trying to save money for our old age, because we probably won't be able to rely on any relatives to take care of us if we ever live that long (considering the possibility of not being able to live on our own anymore), so ideally we should have some fund for our old age so that if we need to pay people to help us with something, we can still afford it. However, I also try not to think too much or plan too much because life is so full of surprises (but I still love saving money for rainy days LOL!). We would love to be able to pay off our house loan and also do some renovations in the future, but in the meantime I can say that life is good. It's beautiful. I'm content. And summer's coming. :-D 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

Note: I was planning on posting this on Sunday, but considering the mention of pain I've read by many women prior to the D-day and the fact that I just can't hold it back anymore (LOL!), I'm going to post it now. I hope it helps ease up the pain a little before least it was cathartic for me. :-)

This is my tribute to you, a group of fabulous and inspirational women out there. :-) THANK YOU for your existence, even though I wouldn't have wished to meet this way. (((HUGS)))


Dear mommy,

Happy Mother's Day! Surprise! It's a letter from the other side. Yes, I would have been your child if the situation had been different. I know that you've never received a Mother's Day letter from anyone and nobody has ever called you mommy, so this year I decided to send one to you because I miss you lots and lots.

I just want to thank you for wanting me and missing me so much. I know how much you have tried to have me and how tough it has been for you. Nobody else has ever wanted me that much, your own flesh and blood, your very special own. I know it was very very difficult for you to let go of me, but I'm comforted by the fact that it's getting easier for you to continue your life without me. Those nights when you were crying? My soul was hugging yours, did you feel it? When you cried for me, I cried with you.

How I wish I could be with you and write these words in my own handwriting and present this letter to you on Mother's Day with plenty of hugs and kisses, but this is the only way I can think of to connect with you: speaking to you via this soul bridge.

Don't worry about me, mommy, because there are plenty of others here with me, the ones that didn't make it. Just like me, they wish they could be with their mommies, but I'm not lonely because I have them here with me. I just hope you're not too lonely there without me.

Mommy, take good care of yourself because otherwise I'll worry about you. I want you to live a full life without me and be happy. If we could be together right now, I would tell you that you're the only mommy I've ever wanted and that I'm SO lucky to have you, just like I know you would say those words to me. 

I love you always and forever, my one and only mommy.

Lots of hugs and kisses,

Your would-have-been and most wanted child 

P.S. This is the version I'm going to share in FB (click to see a bigger view):

Thoughts on This and That

1. The other night I suddenly remembered something that I was planning to do if I could ever conceive. Thankfully, it doesn't make me feel any pain or grief. On the contrary, it makes me smile nostalgically.

You see, my mom used to tell us many times how some elder in her family told her to pray for her babies before they came to the world. Literally praying for them while pushing them out. My mom remembered the advice, so she did it while sending me and my brother off to the world. She prayed that God would smooth out our paths and she hoped for equal financial provision for the both of us (she didn't want one of us to be so rich whereas the other one so poor as to induce sibling rivalry and jealousy but she wanted us to have enough in life).

During TTC, I always remembered this story and I was bent on sending a prayer the way she did, though I hadn't exactly planned the content of the prayer itself, but at least I had kept a mental note to remember to do this while pushing my baby out.

Ah, plans, plans, plans! :-) There's only so much that we can control in life.

2. I was talking to my close friends in a group email about infertility (after a long absence of that topic) and its impact. I told them how in the past, I used to be very angry when I thought of all those children in abusive families or when I saw a pregnant woman smoking because I felt that they didn't deserve to be mothers. I added that these days I don't feel that way anymore. 

One of them, being raised in a Christian family that stressed heavily on the weight of sin and the unworthiness of mankind to receive His grace and salvation, wrote that she never felt deserved to be a mother (even though she's a mother now).

That comment made me think. I wrote back, saying that I actually never felt sure that I was definitely going to be a good mother, because I had no idea what kind of child I could be dealing with. What I felt deserving at that angry period was a chance

It's nice to talk to people and realize more things about yourself. :-) 

P.S. My parents sent us to Christian schools, but they found God much later in life, so they never really tried to drill religious related stuff into our heads. My brother and I found God when we were teenagers.

3. Mother's Day is coming here and I'm feeling psyched. I've prepared a post for this community and I've done a test run on it in an online forum. Thankful for all the feedback from the ladies there because I'm also considering sharing it in FB (just that post, not my blog link). I've also prepared some gifts for my MIL and we're going to spend a day with her as usual. I wonder how it'd feel like on Mother's Day when/if my MIL passes away earlier than I do. Oh well...we shall see how it goes...

I'm also psyched for our upcoming car trip because I'm going to have my first week of summer holiday sometime this month and thankfully hubby can also take a few days off and he wants to go for a car trip (day trip), so it's EXCITING because it's rare for him to want to do something like this.

I don't drive, you see, so I can't initiate something like this. Sure we can go by bus, but it's expensive and there aren't any trains running all the way up here (a round-trip bus ticket to Rovaniemi, a city about 1.5 hours away from this village, costs €50/person and this time we're going even further south). So this year Mother's Day preparation is "swallowed up" by other stuff (in a good way) he he he he he...:-D

Sunday, May 4, 2014


Found this video clip by accident and when I started listening to the song, it was so moving that I found myself crying despite the fact that I had no clue what the lyrics were about. 

Take a listen without continuing to read the rest of my post or reading the comment section below the youtube video clip and see how it makes you feel.

Funny thing was that this song made me feel like it was being sung to my non-existent children. Like a song of longing for was such a weird feeling, but it was impossible to stop my tears from falling down. 

Then I clicked on another link which included a full video clip of the audition plus the translation. Turned out the singer is an adopted child and he was mourning the loss of his best friends three years ago and then he heard his friend's response in the form of this song. The song is a jojk/joik, a traditional form of Sami singing, but the lyrics have no meaning.

I listened to this song a few times and each time it was impossible not to cry. I've bookmarked it in my youtube songlist so that it's easy for me to find it next time I feel like reaching out to my non-existent children. :-)

Here's the other video clip (full audition) with the translation:

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Ripples of Grief

A little while back the friend who's got a 2-month-old baby wrote in a group email about how her husband had been talking about visiting us here. Mind you, she did add something like this: "I'm not sure whether or not you're interested, because I know that travelling with a kid is different than travelling without a kid." Must admit reading it made me anxious, because I know I'm not ready to have them in our place, but before I replied to her, I wanted to find out what my husband had to say to that idea.

Ever since her second trimester, she had started sharing links about parenting and stuff like that and after the baby was born, she has been sharing her baby's photos and status updates about her parenting journey as well as parenting links and a few videos. I'm fine now when it comes to viewing the baby's cute photos (seeing the first few photos was TOUGH) and mostly fine with the status updates and parenting links, but what made me feel sure that I wasn't ready to be with them under the same roof was my reaction when I saw the video clip of her interacting with her baby. Listening to her cooing to her baby and seeing the baby's smile in response to her made me want to escape to my daydreams about my own interaction with my non-existent child and stay there for a LONG time.

My husband was apparently not ready to have them under the same roof, either, so I braced myself and decided to be honest with her in my reply. I told her that I wasn't sure how painful it would be to see her daily interaction with her baby in front of my face, under my own roof, but I was pretty sure I could handle it if they were willing to stay in a cabin or someplace else. Spending time with them for a few hours every day would be fine as long as I could have some rest (my safe haven) in between.

I also explained to her why her baby made me react more strongly than my other friends' babies/children in our inner circle. It's because her baby is the first biracial baby in our group of friends, so the baby's the closest reminder of our loss. It's very hard not to see her baby's photos without wondering how our child may look like. It's probably similar to this: if you've lost a real person in life years and years ago and then you see someone that looks like her/him today, then you wonder how your loved one may look like right now. Something to that effect...oh, I'm getting sidetracked here...back to the topic...

I was prepared to lose this friendship (worst case scenario - which I think I took pretty calmly considering I would have wanted to keep this friendship with all my might and in whichever way I could in the past). I still disliked the fact that these ripples of infertility grief affected me this way (however, in the past I hated/loathed this side effect with a vengeance), because in another universe and situation, I would have wanted to reply, "That's a WONDERFUL idea! When are you coming? You're welcome in our place anytime. Ohhhhh...I can't wait for you all to come. How much fun it's going to be!" But I couldn't deny what I was feeling and I knew that it wasn't just about me anyway. I had to and wanted to protect my husband's feelings, as well.

Anyway, I heard nothing for a few days, but thankfully afterwards she said she appreciated my honesty and she understood why I wrote such a reply. She wasn't sure yet when they were going to come, but she mentioned it because she wanted to do it in the future. So we shall see how it's going to pan out later on. Just another story of infertility's ripples of grief, I suppose.

Btw, check out this brilliant post on Friendship written by Mali. 

P.S. I sent her an angel baby card the other day in remembrance of her miscarriage prior to having this child. I was SOOOOOO touched when she said that she had cried for me a few times during the past two months because after having the baby, she realized even more what I had lost.