It’s that time of the month when I’m more emotional than usual. More sad. More stressed. More angry. More prone to tears, what ifs, and blank stares.
Recently, a long-time and very dear friend of mine named Jenny sent me an email that carries important words, and good advice. I asked her permission to share it with you all, and she agreed.
So, for any of you out there who are feeling, have felt, or will feel the same way I do right now, maybe you’ll find something here that helps you turn it around, or just to deal with it more effectively. Or maybe just to make it through another day without feeling like giving up.
I know you didn’t ask for any advice, and so against my better judgment I’m going to offer some without solicitation, and I hope you’ll forgive me for doing so. You know my story, you know about all my failed pregnancies. Five years ago, I was struggling. My life wasn’t turning out like I wanted. I had dead babies instead of living ones. I had no answers and no health insurance to help me find answers. I had crazy moods and baby hamster hairballs in the shower drain and an empty womb and it wasn’t what I had planned. All my friends were on their 3rd or 4th child by then. I was tired of going to other people’s baby showers. I was broken hearted every time I looked in the spare closet and saw baby clothes and gear staring back at me, taunting me with their uselessness. I absolutely hated to hear any pregnant woman complain about her nausea, her swollen feet, her tiredness- what I would give for any of that. After the hopefulness that came with each positive pregnancy test, came the fear of loss, the inevitable emotional investment and hope, and then the emptiness of actual loss.
Then came this moment where I could see clearly: While I really do believe that most of the pain of the human experience is self-inflicted, some things are truly beyond our control. My life is not always about my choices. Things happen to us, and we get no say in how they turn out. What could I do about my childbearing life at that point? Could I change history, or even my obstetrical future? No. The situation was out of my hands. But the great realization was about gratitude. Could I hold my babies and raise them and nurse them? No, but I had other opportunities that my friends with little babies did not: I could go out of the house for more than 2 or 3 hours at a time. Heck, I could go out of town if I wanted. I could give blood, and do upside down yoga poses. I could make love to my husband without the let-down reflex squirting breast milk everywhere. I could work and take night classes. I could sky dive and ride roller coasters.
I couldn’t control what was happening to my body. I had to resort myself to the fact that 1- I may never know what is causing this to happen, and 2- I may never give birth to another living child. Rather than dwelling on those uncontrollable elements, I chose to focus on what I did have. The summation of the realization for me was this: Be grateful for what you have, when you have it.
I could spend my time and energy wanting what I couldn’t have, wishing for something beyond my control, hoping for karma or God to sort out the kinks and make everything right, or I could make the most of what I had right then, even if it wasn’t what I had hoped. I realized that no matter what life is handing me, I have a multitude of blessings to make the journey pleasant, even wonderful, if I choose to see them. Life is fluid, ever changing and shifting. I would not always be in the place, emotionally, mentally, that I was in then. Who’s to say if I’d be in a better one or not, that is also out of my hands to a degree. I knew that if I did have another child, I would have a host of other challenges, as well as blessings to appreciate. But for now, this is what I had. And I owed it to my husband and living children who were depending on me, and to God who gives me each day, to make it count for something. If not, life would end up passing me by while I hoped for what was around the corner. Be thankful for what you have, when you have it.
Again, know that I care and I want you to feel well and whole. If I’m full of crap, you won’t hurt my feelings to 1- roll your eyes and hit delete, or 2- write me back in all caps and tell me how wrong I am.
Of course, I didn’t roll my eyes. I nodded and cried. And now I look back at these words often.
I think I’m going to take Braden to the park on Thursday and watch him run around and remember that the day he was born to me, whole and alive, was such a special blessing. Every day after that with him (even the tough ones) has been another special blessing in and of itself. There’s really nothing bad that can happen that can ever take from me the great gift of everything I’ve experienced so far with my son. So many wonderful things and moments – there’s no way to catalog them.
Today, I am thankful for that. And remembering to be thankful for that makes the other stuff easier to deal with.
Thank you, dear friend.