Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bittersweet Graduation

I have had a lot of graduation days in my life...high school, undergrad, grad, etc. and of course the one all of us dealing with IF strive for: the graduation from my RE (well, I've had that twice but this time I didn't need to go back and re-do all of the coursework). Most of my graduation days have managed to be bittersweet, marking the end of an era and the beginning of another. Today was no different. I went to my OB for the last time as an 'OB' patient. Next time I'll call him my OB/GYN, with emphasis on the GYN part.

6 weeks postpartum I am moving on...from fertility treatments for now (YAY) and from pregnancy and all of the looking forward and anticipation that goes with that (YAY and BOO). You see, while it's easier said than done, I have a bit of assvice for all of you IFers currently pregnant or who will become pregnant. I know, you didn't ask for it, but I'm going to give it to you anyway, regardless of how difficult it is to follow:

Cherish this time.

Above all else, try not to let the terror of what might or might not be dominate you or your happiness. Try not to let guilt or fatigue rob you of the moment when you see that first heart beat or feel that perfect creature move inside you. Infertility might threaten to take away these moments, leaving you with more pause than celebration, but please don't let it. Pretend, as often as possible, that you are like any other pregnant woman and that you will undoubtedly come out of this unscathed and happy and most importantly, a mother.

I'm not suggesting that you'll return to a state of blissful naivete based on my assvice alone. You have been marked by the great big IF, never to return back. But if only I would have heeded my own words. While I never fully blogged about this (as I didn't want to give it anymore power than it already had), I was dominated by the what ifs while pregnant. When I bought that first piece of baby clothing, my immediate thought was not what he would look like in it but in wondering what crevice of my garage I would stuff it in should I lose him. Even at 31 weeks, I thought long and hard on how I would return all of my baby shower gifts in that same event. After I bought our minivan at 26 weeks, for weeks I questioned what it would be like to drive this same 8 passenger van empty while remembering my dead child. I can't begin to count the nightmares and the hours envisioning the worst on his 'quiet' days. I don't wish that on any expectant mother, least of all those who have been through what many of us have to even get there.

But he's here and he's safe and now, I regret these thoughts more than ever. I know they robbed me of moments that I could have been enjoying. And regardless of whether it turned out the way it did or not, I should have been honoring that time with him every second he was inside me. I'll never get it back. But as I said, that's easier said than done. Nevertheless, I can still say that despite this, my pregnancy with Baby G was the happiest time of my life. While I lived in a state of anxiety, the bliss was powerful enough to counteract that. This is where the bitter in bittersweet resides. On some days, I actually miss being pregnant and look at pictures of my pregnant belly and it feels surreal and a thousand miles away. But then I see where the sweet in this moving on comes from when I look at my quickly growing little baby, when I realize what this graduation day truly represents. I am standing in a place I never thought possible. I am so, so thankful for where I have been, but moreover, where I am going.


Eileen said...

This is beautifully written and so heartfelt. This is my worst fear, the fear that all my losses have robbed me of ever being able to fully enjoy a pregnancy. Your story gives me hope. Thank you for reminding me that when I do get there, that I will just need to let go of the past and live in the moment.

Sarang said...

Shelby, thank you for the beautiful reminder to take life as it comes...each day at a time.

Love this.

Cannot wait to meet Baby G!

Lorraine said...

I am gradually feeling less and less drastic about things, even just two days after the biggest scare of my pregnancy so far. But what I can see from your story, and others, is that once the baby is born there really is no difference between someone who has struggled to get there and anyone with an oops baby. Suddenly, the choices and experiences and memories being created are about something beyond the pain of infertility.

Having bought those first few things, I realized that the sky didn't open up and swallow me whole. A new footie jumper isn't going to ruin my life, no matter what happens. In a few days I am even going on a real-life baby-registering spree with my (IVF, but only to do PGD for a girl) friend who is due a month after me. And I'm looking forward to it! Who'da thunk THAT would ever happen?

The Patterson's said...

Here from A Little Hope, and just wanted you to know this is exactly what I needed today. So, THANKS! I am currently 34 weeks pregnant and am scared to death that something will still go wrong (although there is no indication of anything being wrong). You are right, we need to cherish these moments and trust that things are going to work out. Congrats on your IVF/ICSI baby boy!!

Me said...

Duly noted.

banditgirl said...

Shelby, this was very nice and useful and is highly appreciated. Thank you for sharing so sensitively, articulately, and gently and lovingly.