"...suffering is one of the universal conditions of being alive. We all suffer. We have become terribly vulnerable, not because we suffer, but because we have separated ourselves from each other." -- Rachel Naoimi Remen

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Baby 8. Journal 3


Empahty is minutia.  

Sometimes having empathy sounds impossible.  The quest scares some people off.  It seems so hard, especially these days where it seems like you can't go a day without scrolling past an article that says "10 things to never say to someone with 'x'."  I don't know about you, but those articles leave me wondering, what can I say?  How will anyone ever know I care if I don't ask?  How can I ever be sure I don't say the wrong thing without simply saying nothing?  

Empathy is not saying nothing.  Empathy sounds hard when you're trying to be empathic.  When you don't know what to do or what to say, when you don't know how to support someone you care about, what do you do!? 

A simple lesson I learned recently is that empathy is in the small things.  Gestures don't have to be grand and statements don't have to be lavish.  You don't have to know exactly what someone is going through.  You don't have to quote the bible.  

The best experience of empathy I've had recently was from my OB.  

I wrote to him through a secure messaging system that my health care providers subscribe to.  I wrote telling him of the pregnancy and notifying him that I'd be setting up my appointments through his office.  

He responded, no more than one hour later, with a brief message that gave a date when he could probably see me and he suggested, "if you would prefer to bypass the nurse appointment until you are a bit further along then, given your history, that would be fine."

Sounds pretty simple right?  Well, let me tell you a little back story: 

Sometime between my second and fifth miscarriage, I was at my OB's office.  Their practice, like many, asks for the pregnant patient to see the Nurse first, about 1 week before seeing the doctor for the initial new pregnancy OB visit.  The Nurse reviews your family history to determine if any genetic testing is needed (like for sickle cell disease in families who carry the trait, for example) and to remind the new mother of the recommendations in pregnancy (like not eating too much tuna or drinking any alcohol).  They're useful visits, especially when you're pregnant for the first time.  A new mother can really learn a lot from the Nurse visit, plus my doctor's office gives us a free book and some other stuff.  

But for me, this wasn't my first time in the nurses chair. She was asking questions I'd been asked a few times before, not really all that long ago.  She asked what pregnancy this was - I think it was my fourth.  But then I had to explain that I only had one child and she fumbled with that very awkwardly -- I'll spare you the details, but let's just say that she tried, unsuccessfully, to recover from putting her foot in her mouth.  Little did I know that this would happen repeatedly in various future social situations, I was left trying to make her feel better about the situation, feeling guilty and apologetic that my misfortune had made her uncomfortable.  I hated every second of the remainder of our visit and I think that was my first experience with a mild form of a panic attack.  I just could not wait to get out of there.  

The next time I saw my OB, I asked him to never make me have to go through that again and he agreed.  That was more than two years ago. 

And he remembered.  

A tiny story.  Insignificant to him, I'd imagine, but huge to me.  And he remembered.  

What a great expression of empathy.  A tiny gesture really - giving me permission to delay something that might be uncomfortable for me.  I was relieved.  I appreciate this act of kindness so much. 

Empathy is minutia.   

First Trimester Journals

This blog is my family story.  Through much of it, it's been a sort of therapeutic journaling for me.  Mostly I've focused on my struggles through secondary infertility and recurrent miscarriage.  Since joining the adoption community, I've also shared our ups and downs with adoption.  It's been a pleasure getting to know people in this way and I'm thankful that I've also been able to encourage others through my writing. 

So, if reading about pregnancy of any sort is not why you're on this blog, please don't hesitate stop reading now.  For the next several months I'll be blogging about my current pregnancy.  I'm now in the middle of what appears to be a healthy pregnancy.  I'm joyful but anxious and would like to openly and honestly share this part of my family's story.  But, I know it will be hard for some people with ongoing infertility and empty nests to read, and you have no obligation to follow along.  It is okay. 

Before I even became pregnant, I began blogging again and just didn't publish the blogs.  There are 4.  Plus 1 sincere note that I actually published a couple of weeks ago (the day after my Christmas letters went out with the pregnancy announcement via snail mail) and I will share it again, first.  I will publish one per day, beginning tomorrow, on the blog with Facebook links, to get everyone caught up on my psyche over the past few months.  Being pregnant for the seventh time, after one healthy pregnancy, five consecutive miscarriages, and a successful adoption, is nothing like being pregnant for the first time.  That being said, it's still a beautiful privilege that I'm relishing.  So, if you're comfortable and curious, please join me on this journey and read along. 

With love and hugs ~  ME

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Woven together

Longevity runs in my family.  My children have the privilege of having five living octa- and nonagenarian great grandparents.  

A few of my close friends have lost their parents too early in their life.  I am sad for them and have tried to empathize with them when learning of their loss.  I imagine how hard that must be, but I don't really know the weight of that burden, how hurtful that sort of loss really feels. 

Similarly, a few of my close friends have suffered from miscarriage and recurrent miscarriage.  I know their pain, and they know mine.  We empathize in an intimate way that only others who've also experienced our kind of suffering and loss can fully understand.  I have other friends with multiple successful pregnancies or those who haven't had chosen to have children who empathize, love and support me.  Through no fault of their own, however, they don't really know.

Through my struggle with secondary infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss, blogging, and becoming part of the adoption community, I've come to know many people outside my immediate circle who've also suffered from the pain that infertility, secondary infertility, miscarriage, pregnancy and infant loss bring.  Aside from the gift of my second son which I have through adoption, this - this family-like community of hugely empathic friends - is the greatest gift that miscarriage has given me.  I've been honored to know countless beautiful people whose faith and fortitude have inspired me along the way. 

I've cried hard for you a few times this week.  (... and here I go again...) 

When we share our life stories with one another, infertility binds us in a unique and intimate way.  We've been woven together over tragedy, and it is beautiful.  And let me say it again, it has been an honor being bound with you in that way.  I cherish this bond, and I love you for making me strong when I was weak; for giving me hope when I was full of doubt.  

I hope and I pray and I'm begging my lucky stars, that what I share this week doesn't break our bond.  I know it will change it, and that makes me really sad.  As happy as I am for myself and my family, I am so sorry if this separates us.  I do not mean to hurt you.   

A little more than three months ago, I became pregnant for the seventh time.  The baby in my womb seems to be thriving.  It's been scary, and it's been fun.  Certainly, one of the greatest privileges of my life. 

Among the people I've already told, a common sentiment has been that, "if anyone deserves this, you do."  I truly appreciate those kind, thoughtful, generous words.  But, what I know in my heart is, there are many many people in my circle of infertility who deserve this.   And deserving though they may be, they might not get this sort of happy ending.  Deserving doesn't have anything to do with it. 

My heart is with you - it always will be. 

Rachel Naomi Remen says, "...suffering is one of the universal conditions of being alive.  We all suffer.  We have become terrible vulnerable, not because we suffer, but because we have separated ourselves from each other."  I pray you and I are not separated by this... because I think we still need each other.