Father’s & Their Days

Where do I start?!

Life has been QUITE the whirlwind lately.

We have FINALLY finished painting!!!  The whole house got a fresh coat of paint from the ceilings to the base boards, we have new carpets in the bedrooms and hubby is currently working on redoing the deck, adding a pergola and building a fire pit.  I even added some feminine touches to the front and back yards with flowers and new mulch.  Go me!

We.  Are.  EXHAUSTED!  But we are content.

It’s funny how infertility can permeate your mindset.  People are always telling us “When you’re not thinking about it, that’s when it will happen”,  when what they REALLY need to be telling us is HOW to not think about it!

The last month or so has been so insanely busy that there have literally been times that I have had to remind myself to breathe.  Not to mention all the times I had to remind myself that murdering your spouse is illegal (especially if you get caught).

But if you had asked me where I was in my cycle during any of that time, I would have been able to tell you.  While there was no timing intercourse or charting temps or testing for ovulation, I knew right where I was.  And not because I was paying any attention to it, but just because I’ve gotten so “in tune” with my body.

Believe me, before all of this infertility mumbo jumbo, I was ALWAYS caught off guard when that time of the month would roll around.  Of course, before I was on some of the meds I’m on, it was more like once every 3 months.  Oh, blissful ignorance.

I was just commenting on a friend’s blog today that it’s so easy to get caught in thinking “maybe if I distract myself with [insert activity here], I’ll get pregnant.”  So we tuck that hope away and immerse ourselves, all the while trying to tune out that little niggling that says “HEY YOU!  I’m ovulating here!  Are you gonna do something about it?!”

J & I said goodbye to our old apartment and christened our new home – a couple times (sorry M-I-L and all you Sensitive Sally’s!) – and just genuinely enjoyed each other’s company once we got past the most stressful parts of moving and new homeownership.

I’d be lying if I said that the little seedling of hope that had been sprouting in my heart wasn’t devastated when Aunt Flow faithfully arrived the day before Father’s Day.

Father’s Day.  Another one of those holidays that brings mixed emotions.

It would have been nice to give J an extra special Father’s Day gift this year.  But alas, he’s just stuck with me – again.

Father’s Day is a kinda touchy holiday to begin with for me.  It was hard for me to feel like I had a father for the most part growing up.

My biological dad was, in all my childish naivety, my hero.  The man who I didn’t really know, but could do no wrong in my eyes.  He lived 3,000 miles away while I was growing up, so it was easy to keep him on a pedestal.

There was the man my mother was married to when I was in my 20’s, who was awesome.  Soft-spoken yet firm.  He had to step in to a tough position.  And he did so with grace.  Even though they aren’t married anymore, I will forever be grateful to him for the role that he played in my life.

And then, there’s the man that was there for all the years in between.  My anything-but-step father.

We had a rocky relationship while I was growing up.  I’d say the responsibility for that is spread pretty evenly.  I wasn’t his “real” daughter and I had a father that I was always searching for ways to get closer to.  I felt like he had his family, and I was just kinda … there.  His responsibility, but not really his.

He always worked hard – and worked us harder sometimes, it seemed – and provided well.  Him and my mother owned a business and they kept us kids busy stuffing statements and licking envelopes.  I don’t remember them being around a whole lot when we were younger.  There were quite a few nannies and babysitters and I recall MANY times that I was home with my siblings as the babysitter as well.

As a child, it felt like they didn’t want to be around us.  But now, looking through my adult eyes (thank goodness for those, huh?), I can see that most of the time spent away was in an effort to provide.

The times that I remember them being around were always crazy.  Like the cross-country trip to Pennsylvania in my dad’s ’66 Lincoln Continental with suicide doors (exactly like the car in The Matrix) with our tent trailer attached.  Yup.  4 kids, 2 adults and the feeling like we would NEVER get out of the car again!  We did see a LOT of cool stuff on the way there and back, and some of those memories are BEYOND priceless.

Today, the relationship I have with my then stepfather is extremely different.  When I was in my early 20’s, we had a LONG (occasionally loud) conversation about the past, put it behind us, moved on and he bears the prestigious title of ‘Dad’.  In fact, his back yard – the backyard of my childhood home – is where J & I got married.

He still works very hard.  And provides very well.  We may not always see eye-to-eye and I may not always agree with where he stands on some things, but we know each other well enough to not overstep the boundaries or expect the other to come around to our way of thinking through anything beyond their own idea.

He’s opinionated, but understanding.  Traditional, but open-minded.  Has high expectations, but easily forgives.

I remember J meeting my dad for the first time.  We had gone to Birmingham, Alabama to help him flip a house and then when we got home, J promptly broke up with me.  After shattering my heart and then deciding he’d messed up and wanted to be with me, I told him it wasn’t just me that he would have to ask forgiveness from now.  So he wrote my dad a letter.  (Don’t tell anyone, but I have both letters – J’s & dad’s response – saved in my email!)  If I had any doubt that J was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, it was removed after reading that letter.

And I remember being SHOCKED at my dad’s reply.  Not just because it was absolutely perfect and forgiving and just what J needed to hear, but because he said some things in it about me that I never even realized he thought about me.  It’s always an eye-opener when you get a chance to see yourself through someone else’s eyes.

I am so grateful that we have been able to overcome what started out so rough and forge a path that is all our own.  I am blessed that I have someone that I can call anytime I need advice or encouragement – or even to be talked out of something.

At a time in my life when it seems other people are dropping like flies through the trials, it is really nice to have someone so consistent to rely on.  Even if we don’t talk for a couple months at a time, when we do – after the obligatory ribbing – we can pick right up where we left off.  For that, I say from the very bottom of my heart, THANK YOU.

Me & Dad

My bio dad is still in my life as well.  We talk occasionally and I’m grateful for him, as well.  In fact, the two of them even shared the privilege of walking me down the aisle and giving me away.  I know, not very traditional, but I felt it was fitting.

So, while Father’s Day was tough for the obvious, present reasons, it was also filled with thoughts of years gone by and memories that are still to be made…

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Holi-daze – Resolve to Know More

Holidays are fun and joyous and exciting!

Loved ones gathered around – sharing stories and giving gifts and spending time together.

When one of those loved ones passes away, those holidays are now a sad reminder of all the good times.

Death is painful.  And while that loss is very hard, there’s a difference between the loss of a loved one and the loss of a dream.  When a loved one dies, there’s rituals – closure.  You go through the grieving process and, while you remember them on the anniversaries of those losses, the pain gradually recedes.

With infertility, there’s no closure.  Just when the wound of another negative pregnancy test has the time to heal, it’s reopened again the next month.  It’s like this constant revolving door of pain.

To couples struggling with infertility, holidays are yet another reminder of our unrealized dreams and memories yet to be made.

Children barely getting any sleep on Christmas Eve in hopes of catching Santa leaving presents under the tree.  Of seeing the Easter Bunny hiding eggs.  Of choosing a costume that transforms them into their favorite superhero or character.

When you get married and make the decision to have kids, you think about how you’ll decorate their room and what you’ll say when they have the cutest puppy EVER follow them home and how old they’ll be when you let them start shaving.

But you never think about how many cycles will pass that you get a negative pregnancy test or how good you’ll get at knowing down to the moment when you ovulate or that trying to make that baby just might not be fun anymore.

Maybe you’re the person that bought an ornament just for your child’s first Christmas.  Or you have a stocking that you have to keep in the boxes every year while you just hang two.  Or you have the CUTEST Easter outfit for church.  Or the perfect Father’s/Mother’s Day card stashed away in a secret spot.

But as the holidays come and go, you’re in a daze.  You go through the motions and smile on the outside.  But on the inside?  On the inside, your heart is just trying to beat past all of the broken pieces.

I’ve been asked why we even celebrate with just the two of us and was told that we should just enjoy not having to fill stockings and wrap presents and shouldn’t even decorate a tree.  Like there’s some unwritten rule that if you don’t have children, you’re not allowed to participate in the festivities.  THAT hurt.

holiday e-card

Mother’s and Father’s Day are especially hard.  It’s the time when everyone is celebrating motherhood and fatherhood.  While we celebrate our mothers and fathers, we are reminded that there is a void in our hearts that hasn’t been filled.

I can’t wait until the day that we will giggle like teenagers as we oh-so-stealthily put presents under the tree for our child.  I can’t wait for the day that we will dress our child up and take them door to door trick-or-treating.  I can’t wait for the day we find new creative places to hide the Easter eggs we’ve decorated.

And I especially can’t wait for every night that we will get to pray with our child and kiss them on the forehead as we tuck them in and wish them a peaceful slumber – and then stand in the doorway, arm in arm, and marvel at the miracle that we get to love for the rest of our lives.

Until that day – we will continue to smile.  And celebrate each other.  I may be in a holi-daze when those times come around, but I’m doing my best to make it through.  And sometimes, it’s okay to not be okay.

So, when those holidays come around and you know someone who is struggling with infertility – just remind them that you love them.  If you ask them how they’re feeling and they tell you that they don’t want to talk about it, don’t take it personally.  We always remember those who make a genuine effort!

For more tips on how to cope with the holidays, visit: http://www.resolve.org/support-and-services/Managing-Infertility-Stress/coping-with-holidays.html

http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html

http://www.resolve.org/infertility101