Recognition

We’ve been in St. Louis for a few days now. It’s so fun to see everyone. Many of my aunts and uncles on my mom’s side haven’t met Isa yet, or haven’t seen her since she was less than a year old. Everyone is smitten with her. She has been in top form.

And they are all so excited for our baby boy coming in October. In fact, they seem to be more excited than I would expect, because they all seem to know about our struggle.

I’m assuming it was the Secondary Infertility post I put up in January on my public blog (and then linked to on Facebook). And the mention of secondary infertility in my “announcement.” Otherwise I certainly haven’t mentioned our struggles, at least not publicly. I suppose my mother could have said something to her sisters? However they found out, everyone seems to know how much this baby is wanted, that he was fought for and that we are incredibly grateful to have him in our lives.

I have to admit, it feels good for people to know what this baby means to me. And so far, everyone has been quite kind in their acknowledgement of what we’ve been through. There have been a few comments that I felt were a tad, well, brusque (one aunt mentioned how “depressed I had been” though I don’t know how she became privileged to that information–nor do I feel it is accurate), but 99% of the recognition has been affirming in a way that, frankly, has taken me by surprise.

Yes, the recognition has been really helpful, actually. It helps me to feel comfortable around others. It makes it easier for me to celebrate this pregnancy when I know my family is at least trying to understand what it means to me. Of course they can’t comprehend the heartbreak of coming to terms with never having the family you dreamed of, and there are no words to express the gratitude I feel to have a surprise second chance at that family I’ve always held in my heart. But knowing that they are trying, in any small way, makes the whole thing a lot easier to stomach.

It makes me realize how difficult it is to stand with a group of people–especially when it is people you love–and try to connect with them when you know, deep in your heart, that they can never really understand. I always feel so removed in situations where almost everyone has walked the easy path to their family; it is just hard to relate. I always assumed that would fade over time, even if we never managed to build the family we hoped for. I was sure that once my family building days were behind me I’d be able to feel comfortable in the presence of fertiles once again, but in these years when TTC, loss and infertility were at the forefront, it required way too much effort to put myself out there, to choose the excruciatingly deliberate words that others expected me to say and to accept their careless, often ignorant, responses.

Having people recognize, in any small way, what we went through has made a world of difference on this trip. One I didn’t expect. Actually, I didn’t expect them to acknowledge our struggle at all, and I certainly didn’t expect that the recognition would affect me so deeply.

The whole thing has been very eye opening.

I’ve been so incredibly grateful for this pregnancy, even more so while here in St. Louis. I remember when my grandmother started planning this in the fall of last year and feeling so anxious about the whole thing. I didn’t think I could stomach seeing my cousin and her new baby boy. I didn’t think I could answer all the questions about when I might have another baby myself. Every encounter would have presented a battleground of errant emotions. I would have been exhausted by the time I came home.

Later, I worried the trip would interfere with our one round of treatments, which had to happen in the summer when I was off. The whole thing just had me sick with worry. I was so anxious I couldn’t even think about it and I told my mother many times that I would likely not go.

Being here with my obviously pregnant belly is such a different experience, one I never hoped to have back when I was dreading it. I can’t tell you how many silent moments of thanks I’ve experienced since we got here: at my cousin’s baby shower, as I counted the many other swollen bellies all around me (there were seven of us pregnant women in all); at my aunt’s house when I held my other cousin’s son while our daughter’s played near by; when I met another cousin’s daughter. So many moments would have unbearable without my son kicking and rolling inside me.

So it is with great joy and gratitude that I will experience this week with my loved ones. I’m so thankful for what I have and so grateful for what they are giving me. Their recognition of our struggles touches me in a ways I couldn’t have foreseen. And I am forever humbled by their kind words of love and support.

Have you ever had someone surprise you with their recognition of your struggle? How did it make you feel?

One response

  1. “It makes me realize how difficult it is to stand with a group of people–especially when it is people you love–and try to connect with them when you know, deep in your heart, that they can never really understand. I always feel so removed in situations where almost everyone has walked the easy path to their family; it is just hard to relate.”

    Yes, yes, yes. This is all so true. I have felt this so many times – like I’m standing alone. Thanks for explaining that feeling so well.

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