Sunday, March 01, 2009

To Have and Have Not

I am currently reading An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, a memoir by Elizabeth McCracken, who is a heartbreakingly talented writer with this heartbreakingly tragic story (the stillbirth of her first child) to tell. Among other observations (she is the kind of writer who finds precisely the right words for the most indescribable of emotional experience) McCracken describes this sense that when her baby died, the time that followed occurred in two tracks: "on one, he lived and we took him home...on the other track, the one I accidentally took, he died...."

What woman who has experienced any event on the spectrum of loss -- from miscarriage to the loss of a child -- could not relate to this? All I need to do is look at a calendar and I see, like a photo that stopped developing midway through, all of the experiences that I am not having these days and months. I am not starting to show and buying maternity clothes. I am not telling people about a baby that will be born this summer. I am not feeling excited about a late spring baby shower, or starting to worry about that looming due date and the labor and delivery it will require of me. But I could have been. I was so close.

There's this other duality that I've started to sense in this infertility journey. I live my life utterly consumed by my desire for motherhood -- by the piercing awareness that I lack the thing that I want and need most. It is often the first thing I think of as I force myself out of bed each morning, and the last as I get back in at night. I am constantly aware of this fight I have on my hands, the next battle a deep shadow over every thought, every action. Constantly aware of the life I feel I should be living.

And yet, there is this need to keep going, to sustain myself for the sake of myself. I have this fundamental sense that no matter how much I want motherhood, I have to keep something of myself intact or I will lose everything in my quest for it. I have to remind myself that what I have is inherently valuable and meaningful, not just a reflection of what I don't have. This requires keeping a healthy dose of denial at my disposal. It means waking up this past Wednesday and deciding that, no, I just cannot have another day of desperate sadness -- I've got to pretend it doesn't matter. It means going out to dinner with my husband on a Saturday night and rather than going through the motions, wishing we didn't have such freedom, really trying to relish that experience for what it is (which is pretty good). It means trying to live my life -- the one I have -- not biding my time until I get the life I want, the life I hope is out there somewhere.

My operative hysteroscopy is scheduled for March 26. Before then, there are movies to be seen, food and wine to be enjoyed, magazines to be read, pedicures to be had, friends to be laughed with. I'm going to try to stay focused on the life I have. The one that's real.

15 comments:

anofferingoflove said...

this is a really beautiful post, it brought tears to my eyes.

kirke said...

I really felt my head nodding at your words, "...there is this need to keep going, to sustain myself for the sake of myself." I really feel that is the underlying current that is keeping me sane.

Excellent post.

Nicole said...

I can so relate to your words in this post. While I may not think my life is complete until we have our first little one, I cannot forget how truly blessed and wonderful my life is right now. That is a daily thing for me too. I hope you can find some joy in the next weeks as you live for yourself!

rescogitatae said...

Egg! I think you have hit the nail right on the head. It is so hard not to let IF consume us, and yet I recognize that I cannot let being (or not being) a mother define me. It didn't for 28 years. So why does it get to start now?

I hope you can enjoy all the wine and friends and fun that lies ahead this month.
Hugs,
T.

mylifechronicles said...

You are so right. There is some degree of protection that we need to cast upon ourselves if we want to get through this phase of life. Leaving our feeling open and raw consumes our state of being and our reason to life. Lovely post!

Michelle said...

This is a very beautiful post. Good for you on taking care of yourself. You deserve it!

JamieD said...

What a heartbreakingly beautiful post.

Enjoy your life - you are so deserving of happy things.

Liana said...

"Constantly aware of the life I should be living." You write these words and they come from my own heart.

I just found your blog (through barren is the new black which I found through stirrup queens) and find it a well-written comfort. I read An Exact Replica last week (Elizabeth McCracken is a fantastic writer and I encourage you to check out her fiction) and was totally wrecked by its beauty. How well she explains the murky thoughts we view the world through, the murky days we wade through, not always successfully.

birdsandsquirrels said...

Wow Egg, this is an amazing post! You are so right, that we need to live the life we do have. That is something I needed to be reminded of. I do feel lucky for many things in my life, but I often let infertility make me completely miserable.

Michelle said...

I nominated you for the Honest Scrap Award!

sara said...

This is such a great post and I could see myself in every word of it. I want so badly not to wish this time away (and risk looking back later only to see a black hole where two or three years of my life should have been), but I cannot deny that no matter how hard I try, how many fancy dinners I enjoy, how many books I read, or how late I sleep in, this is always there to haunt me-- this want, this lack. And I am haunted by it-- every minute of every day. But like you, I know that I need to not only survive, but manage to find that good that is here (and there is a lot of it).

I love that book too!!

myemptynest said...

love your blog so i’ve got an honest scrap award for you! you can get the icon off my blog…
http://myemptynest.wordpress.com/2009/03/06/honest-scrap-award/.

bunny said...

i hear you. i can't help but mourn the milestones that could have been. i'm glad you are taking advantage of the now... it sounds like it is a nice place to be.

Mo and Will said...

beautiful post. and i too love mccracken's book. she gets so many things just right.

mo

sue said...
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