Wednesday, May 26, 2010

maybe now

I am planning a second post on the travels through Austria (there are several more highly photogenic locations to share, but I'm not going to drown anyone in pictures). I have a certain threshold for others' vacation photos, and all IFers have a wee bit of sensitivity toward living vicariously, no?

Speaking of which...or should I?...I probably should. As I may have mentioned, I have found before that when I am unable to comment on blogs for even three or four days, somebody always gets pregnant. Three weeks-ish was the jackpot in that department, wasn't it? (It would be too much for me to take the actual credit - presumably people are having sex and so forth, which for much of the world appears to make babies - but I'm just saying, if my absence had anything to do with it, you're welcome.)

It has just now occurred to me that the fact that I am almost always three days (and several follow-on posts) late to a pregnancy announcement, when I have to read through a giant comment list of "I HAVE WET MYSELF I AM SO EXCITED MY JOY IS UNALLOYED NO REALLY I HAVE NEVER POSTED THAT OTHER PEOPLE'S BFPs ARE SOMETIMES HARD FOR ME" before leaving my comparatively modest congratulations is probably connected to the fact that this is the part of the blogger pregnancy announcement that bothers me. (I am trying not to be caustic on this topic. It just slipped out.)

So I want to be clear - but if it makes you feel better to ignore this point and hate the girl without a baby, be my guest - I am delighted for all the bloggers who are pregnant. Some of those BFPs were shockers and some were "Thank God" moments because I couldn't imagine her having to go through another loss. (And I couldn't imagine Ann having to go through another loss, and yet she is. I'm so sorry, Ann.) And I am happy for all of them, and although eight pregnancies/adoptions on my blogroll alone does leave the field of IF allies a little - OK, a lot - decimated, my number one pet peeve is my perception - and perhaps it's only my perception after all - that when the security of each of our childless worlds is threatened by seeing a friend and ally cross over, and when we feel the dark temptation to be sad for ourselves and not happy for her, we take comfort in the same general sort of in-group behavior that leads insecure high school girls to derive some sense of value for themselves from the exclusion of somebody - anybody - else. (That sentence was a bit long.)

I'm not accusing anyone of that degree of high school viciousness. And surely no one here is more petty than I. But I see a self-protection there. I probably see it in unduly stark relief because of my recurring role as the person who has to read through all the comments - "Oh I was so excited when you called me two days ago I'm so glad you finally posted about it I almost couldn't prevent myself from mentioning it before it was up on your blog!" That's the sort of thing a gal could say over the phone...if it's in the comments, is it meant to tell the rest of us that the commenter has a special relationship with the blogger that the rest of us lack? Or does it just appear that way to me? And is the reason for needing to establish that special relationship because we need so desperately to create a paradigm under which we can feel happy when someone else secures a blessing which we have been so painfully denied? Heaven knows I play enough neurotic tricks on my own brain to try to cause socially acceptable reactions. Sometimes they even work.

So, for reasons I imagine will be obvious, now that I've more or less got access to blogger again, I'm not back-tracking to all the pregnancy announcements to add my two cents. All you ladies, be assured of my congratulations and my prayers for a safe and healthy pregnancy and baby.

I daresay that more of the shock factor with returning to blogging after all the pregnancy announcements is the sheer volume - and what that means for my blog. I thought of going to Vienna as a ridiculous extravagance - the sort of thing that never happens to me - that I should discuss diplomatically; heaven knows that we should be modest about our material blessings, as they are no reflection of our value as people, and there are so many in the world who suffer want while we have more than we need. I didn't suppose that when I returned and had time to post a few pictures, I would feel as though they would have become a pretty thin excuse to get anyone's attention; or that the achievement of buying my first swimsuit in five years and having it look pretty darn good would be unimpressively juxtaposed against a field of baby bumps. But those are my misfortunes, that I see them that way as well as that I have a basis for doing so; and they don't detract from anybody's blessings.

For my part, I have to continue my journey toward some valuable meaning in childlessness in an increasing state of confusion and sadness. Austria was wonderful; returning home, especially without my husband (again traveling for work, for weeks), was a letdown, of course, the moreso with a cold and under-rested, but I think that wasn't the greater problem. Recent difficulties with my DH have made me realize that we still have mountains ahead of us to climb in terms of achieving a healthy marriage (rather than a steady but moderate upward grade); and I am wondering whether I have the strength.

And, obviously my symbolic, and in many ways literal, pursuit in lieu of children has been a home. My "castle," the super-old house that was super-near the magnificent church and a good commute to boot, has freeway noise. I knew my DH, who grew up in the country, wouldn't love that (though it's a general consequence of living in the city, and he wanted to move here), but he mentioned while we were traveling that it was right off the list for that reason. That was the first I heard it was a deal-breaker. Scratch another of the misfit's houses off the list. I thought it was the one. I loved that church. I am not going to find a church that I love more - they don't make any.

Previous to that, he had also mentioned the idea of waiting a couple more years to buy (all of his input, whatever the specific details, have this theme. I am opposed and I am planning to wear him down. Screw the surrendered wife. I'll apply it in other ways, but if I can't have babies, WHY CAN'T I HAVE A HOUSE?) and then moving to the country, and I tried that notion out in my head. I would like to move to the country too. Who knows how we'd support ourselves, so I was thinking it would be over a decade - and figuring that would be house #2. But if we could do it sooner, it's worth considering.

When I got home I found myself itching to get online and find another house. Surely I could find a nice house in the country - less practical as a commute but still feasible if the country location was the goal, and eventually being rooted near the house, not the jobs! I thought I could get online and I would just find something perfect and I would know it was meant to be mine and it would all be OK. I didn't. I did eventually find a place that is, on its own merits, perfect. It's really big. It's on a huge lot. It's adorable and charming. It's affordable. It's in the middle of a tiny town that's super-picturesque and historic, on a river and right next to mountains. Lots of places like this obviously exist, but this is in our general area. It is 37 miles from my job...I can hardly pretend that's feasible. But I know that commute would make me hate the job - not the house. That's significant. I emailed my DH, and he said, "Too far away. We might as well move to the Adirondacks." This does not qualify as working with me.

Recently has said that we should move to a small town and hang out a shingle. This suggestion frightened me as of its second mention (first mention is notional by definition). He has never practiced law, and when he worked in a law firm during law school, he hated it with a bitter passion that was evident daily. And his hours were very moderate, he set his own schedule, and it was a small firm! We couldn't start a shop of our own more congenial than that. Moreover, he has no marketable experience as an attorney. I have several years of experience, but my area of expertise is massive corporate contracts. That's useless starting about 25 miles outside the beltway. I have never conducted a trial, though that used to be my dream. I would be no more use than a novice who just passed the bar - except that I have been working for four years, and worked hard not to be a novice, and starting a business means killing hours and no money for the first year, and that's all well and good if you want your own business, but I absolutely don't and really like the fact that I now I'm a fourth-year attorney, and giving that up would be a bad trade on both sides of the equation. It would be fine if my husband were really into the law and really wanted to practice and I could gradually take on a supporting role, but he isn't and he doesn't and I imagine I would take on an increasing role and I can't deal with the long hours and it would be a horrible disaster. It only sounds nice to him to say. And my enjoyment at saying "I told you so" doesn't justify the agony it would take between here and there.

Why this should upset me when he's not really trying to press the issue is because it resembles to me a form of escapism. He knows his days are numbered on his current contract - it's not up soon, but he knows about when it will be. To me, this fact screams one message with shrill clarity: NOW YOU HAVE A PERFECT COMFORTABLE AMOUNT OF TIME TO LOOK FOR A JOB! Only he isn't. He's put out two or three resumes - he will need two or three hundred. And if this results in another six months of unemployment that spell stress for me and psychosis for him, I will not be able to restrain myself from saying, "You caused this problem," and I will send him to his parents to live until he is employed again, because it would be our third round of this in less than a decade of marriage and so help me I will start drinking, and I don't mean water, and I don't mean on weekends. And in addition to talking about ludicrously unrealistic career plans and failing to make real ones (bad), that's a matter of having theoretical life plans and failing to make real ones (extremely bad).

You see, I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT HOW WE'RE GOING TO MOVE TO A SMALL TOWN AND START A NEW LIFE THERE IN TWO OR THREE YEARS. I'm happy to talk about how we'll retire to the mountains - it's charming and fond and sounds nice. But it doesn't give me hope. What gives me hope are actual plans for the actual imminent future that are actually feasible, actually meant sincerely and toward which we are actually working. Other people quit their lawyer jobs and open bed-and-breakfasts, but we don't. That being the case, and neither of us desiring to stick with our current homes or jobs for the next decade, and that dissatisfaction being slightly depressing, I want a plan - NOT A NOTION, A PLAN - of what we can do next toward which I can work, to which I can look forward. DAYDREAMS DON'T COUNT.

So I'm not pleased about that.

The other topic he's raised recently is seriously thinking about adoption. I told him to do some research - just google it; nothing crazy - and form his own opinion and then we'll talk. I am fairly sure that he'll see what I saw - that agency/state/whatever adoption is not going to be something we want to do. I predict that we'll never do a homestudy - or if we're really stupid and try to, we'll cause a social worker to change careers that same week, and we'll be struck off the adoption rolls for life. I probably shouldn't type these words, but if I had married a studious, mild-mannered, devoted-to-his-disciplined-prayer-life Catholic as I think I was expecting to, this would not be a problem. Not for him - and not for me either. But my DH is a bit on the brittle side. And after all these years, I've become more like him - and more brittle on my own, too, from the IF among other things. Probably principally that. I'm kind of the proper sort, but if some half-educated self-righteous nitwit presumed to pronounce words of evaluation on my home or my marriage - even if they were favorable - I would probably physically attack someone for the first time in my adult life. And I think it would be justified. I have carried the burden of the world's judgment for my childlessness for quite some time now, and the none-too-light burden of my own as well; and I have had all I have any interest in taking. That infertile women - and, moreso, the husbands who have seen their wives suffering so already! - can humbly accept the intrusion of evaluation by the adoption industry astounds me profoundly. I feel contempt for those people (the adoption workers, not the adoptive parents). I would never ask them for anything.

On the other hand, I am too bossy. I want my DH to be happy. He has been unhappy enough. If he actually does some research (it's been weeks, and I've suggested it several times, and he hasn't), and he really wants to do this, I won't object. I'll even cooperate. Given how many loving and eager prospective adoptive parents out there can't get a birth mother to look at them, I have my doubts this attitude would result in us getting placed, but even if so. I don't really want to raise someone else's child. I don't feel particularly like being a mother - not to anyone. More than anything, I want to be left alone. I am tired of watching other people watching me, measuring how big my smile is when I look at the baby, observing whether I leap to my feet to play hide-and-seek with other people's kids (no. I'm in a dress. I'm a lady. I wipe noses when it needs doing; but they are happy playing hide-and-seek by themselves), requiring me to manifest enough enthusiasm in my voice when I say that I would appreciate prayers for children - if I sound neutral, or flippant (God knows I have a right to. Who has a right to see me cry?), the prayers will not be offered. May God give such people crosses that make them understand mine. And I ought to make some sacrifices for my DH's happiness, as he's made enough for mine, but quitting my job (even though I don't love it) and relinquishing my free time to nurse a purchased infant is probably a lot more than I could put a good face on 'round the clock.

I recognize that not wanting to adopt would mean vetoing him adopting, and I feel bad about that. But one negative word from him was a veto of foster parenting (of course he might change his mind in five years). I have a lot of policies about how I deal with IF - yeah, and I have a lot more coping skills still intact than I might well have had. But if he says no - to a house, foster care, whatever - that's no for me too. I don't want to force this. I have been wandering around in the dead darkness for at least four years and it would hardly be prudent to charge off like a bull in any of the few directions I know are specifically inadvisable.

Anyway, I want to hear what he says - what he honestly thinks when he's honestly confronted with the process. I think he'll like the details rather less than I did.

Which leaves...exactly nothing. No prospective home to purchase; no suburb in which to search for one; no city or even state we'll expect to work in; no industry in which to look for a job, for myself or him; no particular prospects regarding children except that I'll continue to be unhappy about the general subject; and no certainty except that we could probably both use professional help, even though two months ago I believed we had gotten so much better. Not having a present isn't much, as I should know, but not having any future plans feels like death.

I've gotten better at getting up in the morning, thanks to the doubled dose of thyroid. But I've got little to get up for. I try to avoid thinking about my job even when I'm there; I miss my DH when he's constantly away, but I avoid him when he's here, because he's so impossible; I looked for a spiritual director for months only to have all the doors closed, and finally took the hint; and there's nothing I get to plan for. Every day looks exactly like the day before (and yes, this from someone who just took a trip to Europe. But that's not my real life). I know now why people develop shopping addictions - if I could justify buying an un-affordable lot of antique furniture, I would feel, in the moment, as if I were accomplishing something. As it is, I feel as though I go to work every day to pay off student loans and make anonymous gifts to friends in hard times who have to support their kids. I think I'm living in the Matrix.

13 comments:

  1. First off, I want to see the photos from your trip. I will not be returning to Europe any time soon (and I have to be happy about it since we do have a newly renovated basement and a new car, but I can't help dream, right??).

    The past few weeks have been tough for me. Not only did we have another death in the family, but we had an HCG mix up and I ended up getting NO hormones post Peak last cycle which really bummed me out (and yes, this was the cycle after my false +). I've spent a lot of time feeling lonely, abandoned and left behind. It's only been in the past couple of days that I've started to come out of the feel-me-sorries (yes, definitely hormone related, my period is basically done).

    I did go through a (brief) period where I very happy for my formerly-IF sisters. Then I was plunged into the depths of despair. I felt like Debbie Downer constantly posting about how sad I was, but I had to for fear of losing my mind.

    As for the adoption front: we've had the paperwork in our house since February and I haven't mustered up the energy nor the courage to even start the process. We were both on fire about adoption then suddenly real life and a little hope for an actual bio baby entered the picture. I need to work through these issues and get off my a$$ now.

    Lastly, I'm so sorry that finding a house has been so difficult. I am obsessed with looking for a new home and I have very strict parameters so my choice is limited (unless I suddenly find $500 000 more dollars). I've resigned myself to more waiting and more saving, but it's tough. When one is IF and real estate happens to be an obsession that's moderately under control (unlike my ladyparts), I feel like I can will the right house to go up for sale.

    I'm praying for you. There seems to be a lot going on for you and I can't even imagine not wanting to go to work in the morning (my class has saved my life this year).

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  2. Whoa....a lot in the post. And I like it. It reminds me of me. Especially the thoughts about IF bloggers pregnancies and trying to find jobs that fit both you and your husband AND work out with the living situation you desire. I'm also sure that the negative adoption thoughts you have, have also run through many other minds.

    I get this feeling that you feel like if you were a mother, you wouldn't be the typical mother that is portrayed on all the "mommy blogs". I feel that way too. And I AM a mother. But I'm not the perfect mother who sets up play dates regularly, discusses toilet training with other moms, or has the meal plan for the week all set in stone. I don't think this would make me happy. The key is though to be at peace with your life despite your obstacles. Maybe your (or my) DH isn't the strong spiritual head we thought they would be. Maybe our professional lives limit our time and energy needed for "homemaking". Maybe that inspiration you got, after reading a particular life of a saint, to live a prayerful, peaceful, joyful life vanishes just moments after your DH walks in the door. But the key is to keep trying even though you fail.

    I never got the Protestant thing of being "born again" at one particular moment. I don't feel that. Catholics have it right in that they get inspiration and try hard, but then they fail, just like sinners do. Then they have to get back up and try it all over again. How do you keep the momentum going in your daily life without focusing on all the failures, the wandering mind during prayer, and the negative thoughts? Once I figure that out, maybe I'll get it right and be joyful and full of life, even admist a broken world, pain, and suffering.

    So maybe my comment is totally off. Maybe this doesn't connect with you at all. But I do want to say that it made me think about my broken, non-picturesque life and the struggle to achieve sanctity which seems like an impossibility at times. I know God is out there to help us to reach this point. But the effort on my end seems like it has to be so immense that it is most definitely out of reach.

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  3. hey there - will write more later, was worried failed meetup personal or that i had offended, reading that it wasn't (totally forgot about privacy issue on other's computers!) much relieved, hope things a touch better by you. will write but am on way to work - h

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  4. I'm sorry that you are feeling so lost and frustrated right now. I hope that your DH will start helping you make some realistic plans so you aren't feeling quite so stuck. Have you made any moves on getting professional help and how does your DH feel about it?

    It definitely sucks to be waiting (and/or feeling hopeless) while everyone else seems to be adopting or getting pregnant.

    I'm definitely interested in seeing pictures from Europe.

    I'm praying for you and your DH.

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  5. Wow. That was a lot to say in one post, and a lot for me to digest. It does seem like you have a lot on your shoulders to think about and some really big dicussions that will be coming in your future, about your future. You and your DH certainly need to be on the same page when househunting and TTC/adopt.

    I think you may be one of the first people to ever use the phrase "purchased infant" and I think my mouth dropped open at that one. If you really do feel that way about it and about the home study process, then adoption may not be for you. I'll pray for you and your DH. You have lots to think about.

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  6. You're DH sounds quite a bit like mine: cautious. It can take him ages to make a decision. It took several years and quite open houses for him to finally decide he was ready for a house. He waffled incessantly about it wondering if he were ready. We happily dated for more than a decade before he asked me to marry him. It took him about that same amount of time to decide he might be ready for a child.

    It takes a lot of patience to love someone who's so cautious. It's worth it in the end. Caution tempers a more impulsive personality, and vice versa. In my situation, once I decided I loved him and was willing to wait him out until he became comfortable we a decision, it made life easier. It's also helped him start acting on the big things more quickly - months instead of years.

    Hm, I didn't mean to make this comment sound all about me. It's just my experience in a similar situation. I don't know if it helps or not to know that others are going through some of what your are or not. I hope it does.

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  7. I think I'm a little like JB in that I have a period where I feel very happy for fellow IF'ers that have gotten pregnant/adopted. Then I crash a bit - looking at their pictures and just wishing so hard that it could be me. Sometimes I feel like my reactions to things have been different in the last year that I've been blogging - as if the IF blogging world has taught me that I'm supposed to hate baby showers, babies, be jealous of pregnant women, etc. I don't remember having such strong reactions to all things pregnancy or baby before I read of other women's strong reactions, and I kind of wonder how much of it is truly how I feel, or what has been suggested to me. Not that I'm so malleable that the simplest suggestion can make me become another person...but maybe it's not helping?
    Anyway, all that to say that I'm realizing that we are all different in the way we think, feel, and react to other peoples pregnancy or parenthood in different ways. And that's okay. You certainly shouldn't feel pressured into offering congratulations if you don't want to. But I don't think all of the congratulations offered are insincere or forced.
    I'm really sorry the house hunt is coming to a halt, the job situation is so stressful for you, and that your marriage is causing you some frustration. It is the most frustrating feeling when you feel stuck in one place or situation with no hope of relief anytime soon :(.
    Since your hubby is traveling for a few weeks - if you want to have dinner next Wednesday (or any Wednesday evening really), that is when my Hubby is in class, and you can do some venting in person if you like. I promise I won't mention the Surrendered Wife or Adoption again :).

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  8. Hello. Glad you made it back safely! Please post pictures from your trip - Austria is so beautiful. Snicks and I finally attended a marriage conference this spring and I think it constituted a sizable (positive) shift in our relationship. I think that marriage is hard to begin with, but then compounding that with being in a constant state of flux or dissatisfaction (job, home, church, TTC, etc) just adds to the challenge. Okay, I realize that isn't ground breaking. Sorry. Thank you for the congratulations - I am still struggling with the guilt that has come along with this news. I realize that doesn't make you feel better, but please know that I am praying for you.

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  9. For the record, I'd like to see your pictures. And it wouldn't bother me if you wanted elaborate how good you felt buying that swimsuit, too! Share it with us, we want to celebrate with you. :)

    As for adoption, I remember when we first got our information packet. I requested it in Feb 2009 and could hardly read through it. I was so resentful of the whole adoption process. Why was it that my friends (who on paper are way less "qualified" to have kids than we are) can have baby after baby and yet I have to prove myself to some stranger? Physicals, Psychological exams, copies of tax returns, piles of forms and questionnaires, fingerprints and background checks, and the ultimate-coming into my home and evaluating it and my marriage, I mean, it felt insulting. So needless to say I put the info packet away and didn't look at it again until December. Somehow I was softened, though. God must have given me a certain amount of humility because I certainly wasn't doing much to cultivate it on my own. I guess my point is that I cringed at the thought of the process and by having that reaction I knew it wasn't the right time for us. Later that year I felt better about it and it was the right time to pursue it. I'm sure you and your husband will figure out what is right for you, and when.

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  10. Wow...sounds like you and your dh have a lot going on and "mountains" to think about. I know for me...it took me a long time to be open to adoption. My dh was willing to look into it when we came to realize having our own child may not happen. I had to get over so much anger, etc. I'm disappointed that it didn't work out better for us. We're going to have to look into other agencies now and NOW we are not sure we want to do that. Adoption is hard. But as you know from the blog world, it can be beautiful and it can happen really fast.

    My dh is like you. He doesn't want hypothetical plans...he wants plans that we can make happen. He doesn't want us to dream about a summer home in the future unless it's something we can make happen. I like to dream. It gives me something else to look forward to and helps me to not feel so negative about my barrenness. Ugh! He doesn't get that. I don't dismiss his attitude either...afterall, if I hadn't dreamt about a home full of children..then maybe this gosh darn IF wouldn't be so hurtful.

    The only thing I can add about opening a business is that you will be very busy. I've only seen my sister three times in the last eleven years since she opened her business...once for my wedding shower, wedding and my dh and I went to TX to visit them. She claims that the business makes her family too busy to come and see us( she hasn't seen our parents in 7 years. They are in their 80's.). I believe it eventhough it makes me sad. Her life is that business.

    I can relate to your comment about the prego IF women "hating" you. I don't think it's hate though...it's more like an instant discomfort. I've lost IRL friends due to my IF and now I can say I've lost blog friends too. Oh well....sometimes these differences tell you who your real life/blog friends are! It's something friends need to overcome with effort.

    This was quite an intense post. Sounds like there's lots to sort out in your life...I will keep you in my prayers that the Good Lord will give you the strength as you look for answers. That is great that you could post about it. I hope you find that helpful. I hope I can offer you some support too.

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  11. What type of medication are you on for your thyroid?

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  12. Sending you hugs and prayers. I can definitely relate to the job unhappines & unemployment of spouse, financial stress - feeling lost. I hope you find a path through this darkness. I have found some comfort and focus in praying the daily office up on the northumbria community website (I downloaded the music, as music helps me to remember the words, etc). I don't think it's catholic - it does seem very sound to me though.

    I don't know where the quote comes from, but isn't there something about the darkest hour being before the dawn ... the thing is, we never know when the dawn is going to come and how long we have to wait in the dark.

    Andie

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  13. a lot to post about means a lot on your mind with no clear answers in sight and that makes perfect sense why you feel frustrated. i can relate to your dh because my dh, yeah not so much the spiritual head. at.all. he can be soo difficult and i realize it is me too and our marriage needs work and that is overwhelming for sure.
    I am hoping you both find your dream house soon!

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