Sunday, February 3, 2013

happy ending?

well, hello.  sorry it's been such a long time since you've heard me here.  i'm sure you can guess why...

anyway.  thoughts. comments. hmmm.  this is harder than it once was, to listen to and transcribe these pieces of me, the internal me, She Who Has Things To Say.  but i'll try.
i recently received a communication from an old family friend who knew of the Tummymuffin losses but only found out about L/Tummymuffin IV's arrival from this year's Christmas greetings.  she was clearly overjoyed for us; she gushed congratulations and exclaimed, "i'm so glad your story has a happy ending!"
at the time, the comment was unremarkable, but lately it has bothered me more and more. i know it was well-meant, but it has troubling implications.  for those struggling with pregnancy loss and infertility, having a baby is NOT the answer to your pain and grief. it is NOT how you will ever be happy again.  it is NOT the end of your story, or your partner's story, or your journey towards family.  resolution does not come from a full-term pregnancy, a successful IVF, a finalized adoption, a decision to be child-free, or anything in between.
i believe that resolution comes from accepting the grief and committing to the ongoing process of healing.  i believe that resolution comes from learning to hold life with soft hands and knowing what to let go of, and when to let go of it.  i believe that resolution comes from understanding that gratefulness and pain coexist; joy and pain can be simultaneous, and not struggling against that reality.  i believe that resolution is not an ending, it is actually a beginning of being open to and aware of new things.
i am uncomfortably aware that this sounds dangerously like some gooey self-help guest on a bad daytime talk show.  but i am speaking from the hard-earned other side of experience.  not a day goes by that i am not acutely aware of how different the experience of motherhood after loss is from the mainstream messages i hear about parenting a child.  there is less to complain about, less to feel that i've lost of my pre-Tummymuffin life, less to take for granted, less to feel entitled to, less to grasp at, less to worry about.  there is more to savour in the small moments, more to let go of, more to feel wonder about, more to celebrate, more to fall in love with, more to slow down for, more for gratefulness to take root in.  i'm convinced that losing three babies, struggling with getting pregnant, and working through the resulting anger and pain has made the daily experience of mothering a thousandyzillion percent better -- because of the perspective.  now don't hear what i'm not saying -- i would still rather know my first three Tummymuffins on this side of life -- but the experience of not having them has made me a better, different, and stronger mother for their brother.
which i guess brings me to something i said recently to a friend who was looking for advice in dealing with losing a baby to a years-ago abortion; long-buried pain and grief were surfacing in terribly painful ways, and she was wondering if carrying that sadness ever got easier.  i've written here before that grief has no expiration date, but i recalled something i'd just read: it doesn't get easier, but you get stronger.*  do not look for ease.  hope lies in strength, growing secretly inside your crushed heart, showing itself when you least expect it. 
so.  i do not think my story is "ended," it merely continues on -- yes, with a very thrilling chapter about a baby boy -- but oh there is SO much more to unfold.  and so much more room to grow.

 *of course i had to search for the source of this marvelous phrasing; at the time i couldn't remember where the heck i'd seen it.  thanks to The Googles, here is the link to Beth Woolsey's post; wouldn't you know, it was originally said about being a mother...

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