There are 10 million things I should be doing today but instead I’m spending the day sitting in this chair with our sick cat in my lap. Little Euclid, who really is not little, has been diagnosed with renal failure. With diet and regular fluids/vitamin injections we can work to improve her remaining days and prolong her life, but ultimately this is the beginning of the end.
The entire thing is making me extremely sad and is a reminder of how we all age and we will all die. Our parents are aging, some more gracefully than others, and I’m aware that tough decisions and experiences are in their futures. Our cats are aging. We are aging. This is an odd stage of life to be in, watching one young person grow and thrive while others around us age and die and we sit sort of in between – not yet old, but certainly not young.
I’m quickly approaching “middle age” (or could have already passed depending on what my future holds) and my mind is a swirl of reflection. Not necessarily a bad thing, I guess, as it is helping to put things into perspective. Have you ever known someone on their deathbed who says, “Gee, I wish I had worked more in my life?”
No. You probably have not. But you hear of people all the time who say they wish they had spent more time with their family. I am working daily to remember this, as I stress about where my career stands and where to go next.
Ultimately, I don’t think my career really matters at this stage in my life. What does matter is enjoying these days with my child, my husband, my old and ailing cats, my thoughts and self. This is my time to reflect on traumas past and finally heal. It is my time to set new habits in motion that will make me a better mother, wife and friend. It is my time to take care of my spirit and those beings I hold dear. There will be time to work again, but right now, this is more important. Right now, I am a mother.
I woke up two minutes before my alarm again this morning, which has become the new norm. Blind as a bat, I was rummaging around looking for my glasses when all of a sudden I hear “Get out of here stupid cat!” and WHACK a great big man hand swatted me upside the head.
“HEY! Not the cat, dude. Just looking for my glasses!”
“What? Wait?… Oh sorry Belle! I just heard rustling on your table and saw something big and hairy and assumed it was your annoying cat.”
“Wait, you think my short, thinning hair is plentiful enough to be mistaken for Yum Yum (a very fluffy Maine Coon cat)? I’m scheduling an eye appointment for you stat.”
Today marks a big milestone for me: 12 weeks of working out 3 times a week. Exercise has a very real ripple effect in my life and when my sanity took a major dive I knew it was the first thing I needed to focus on in order to recover. I sleep so much better when I workout, and when I sleep well I can better manage my anxiety. When my anxiety is in check I am a more attentive mother. When I feel like I’m kicking ass and taking names parenting, my relationship with my husband is better. I with the Professor and told him that a gym 20 minutes north, a straight shot up the Saw Mill Parkway, had memberships for around $40 a month, a reasonable price for the benefit workouts would bring to the household.
Dear Infertility Supporters,
If you are here because someone you care about is struggling through infertility, bless you. Supporting an infertile is not an easy task. We are an emotional train wreck strung-out on artificial hormones while the biological clock deals repeated blows to our heart. Between bouts of tears over a negative test and cheers over a recently ovulated egg, there are surges of rage, silence and worry. We are a grenade of emotions just waiting to explode.
But you know this. You see this. You go home to your family and express worry, fear and sadness over our struggle. You hug your children tightly and give thanks. You care enough to come here, to the internet and this little blog, to learn how to help us.
Our infertility community speaks in a strange lingo of abbreviations, medications, calendar days and procedures. Among all the jargon you see mention of “rainbow babies” and “unicorns.” “What lovely sounding things!” you think. Lovely things, maybe, but they followed such heartache.
Rainbows are babies born after children lost too soon. Rainbows come after miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death. Rainbow babies are the calm after the storm.
And then there are the unicorns. For us, this mythical beauty represents living breathing children who have been spontaneously conceived without assistance. These are the children that happen during a treatment break or after an IVF baby was born. Anyone with two feet in the stirrups thinks about and prays for a unicorn constantly. Most of us have had some well-meaning but daft physician tell us unicorn tales. We have all had our friends, family and strangers on the bus tell us about so-in-so, whose infertility journey makes ours look trite, that finally walked away with a unicorn. We all know these stories. And none of us want to hear more of them.
These unicorns are important, but not in the way you think. The unicorns make us sad. They remind us how unfair the world cab be. They make us question God. “Why her and not me?” Even if an infertile has a healthy miracle child, she still does not want to hear about the hope for a unicorn sibling. Trust me. I know unicorns happen, but I can’t live my life waiting for a one and I don’t need to be reminded.
Instead, take these unicorns and tuck them into your heart. Let the unicorn stories give you the hope and strength necessary to continue supporting your grenade of a friend. Instead, bring chocolate when our pregnancy test is negative. Bring wine when our IVF cycle fails to produce embryos. Bring a basket of thrift store dishes to smash after we miscarry, and then help us pick up the pieces when the tears start to flow. Share in our anguish and our pain, don’t brush it aside with a unicorn. Stand by us no matter what.
I want to close this letter by thanking the close friends that supported me. You all stuck by my side through the thick and thin, the good and bad. It is your support and love that helped me make it through. You all know who you are and I love each of you dearly. And to the rest of you who might not know me personally but are here to help, keep standing bedside your friend, your sister, your niece, your daughter. Your presence means more than you think.