Remembering how it all began.
SNL. When you were born.
Thanks for letting us believe it was easy Mom.
Remembering how it all began.
SNL. When you were born.
Thanks for letting us believe it was easy Mom.
I know I’m starting to sound like the bad news bear on here, but I promise you I am really a very happy person. I am happy, but the fact of the matter is that life can really be very hard. There are times when it is just best to allow yourself to be sad. If we are lucky enough to have a life filled with love, it only makes sense that we will have a life touched by grief. Grief may be the price of love, but it is worth every penny. My family recently lost someone very important to us. His name was Ed, he was my father in law, my husbands Dad and our sons Grandpa. We will always miss him, but he was a wonderful man who left an impression on people wherever he went. I can’t help but want to share his memory, and the message his life represented. We would like nothing more than to carry on his legacy, sharing love, and goodness. And hopefully helping others to look for, or find something sweet when everything seems sour.
This is the story of Ed, according to someone who loved him:
-The other day my son and I were at the pharmacy picking up a few things for the funeral. While we were waiting in line my little guy was looking at the packages of mini aero bars. He just stared at them and then finally said, “It’s too bad Grandpa died, now I won’t get anymore aero bars”. As you can imagine my heart ached hearing our boy try to make sense of this loss. I stopped what I was doing and we had a little talk. I told him we can still have aero bars, and now when we do we can think of Grandpa. I told him we can even share them like Grandpa used to. I cleared that shelf, filling our cart with the aero bars.
It also prompted me to write this. We shared it, and our chocolate bars today as we celebrated Ed. I hope he would have been honoured.
If you knew Ed, you’d know that when ever something was hard, or unfair or unfavourable, there was one phrase that was sure to come out of Ed’s mouth. That phrase was “Goodness”.
If he heard someone was going through a hard time, he’d say: “Goodness “.
If he was working, and things weren’t going well, he’d say: “Goodness”.
Or even when something simple happened-maybe seeing one of his grandkids spill their cup, he’d smile encouragingly and say : “Goodness!”
Say it with me now : “Goodness!”
Ed lived his life, saying and spreading goodness. He worked hard, up to the age of 78 in fact. He shared what he had and helped people when he could. He enjoyed the simple life. Family and friends were on the top of his list. He enjoyed nothing more than a good visit over coffee, and he never forgot to make sure his grand kids always had their fill of chocolate—usually the biggest aero bars he could find.
If he wasn’t spending time with family, he was likely on the tractor, both at work and home. Or maybe puttering away in the garden. He enjoyed fellowship with friends at church. And was often found reading his bible, the bargain hunter, or one of his natural health books—and then trying to convince his family and friends to check out whatever he’d been reading. His top recommendation for almost every ailment was to try apple cider vinegar. And if that didn’t work, try chocolate.
Something sour and something sweet. Ed knew something we all will. He knew that in this life, we are going to have to face our share of sour and sweet. Hardships and blessings.
Right now we are enduring our hardships. Our hearts although broken continue to beat. So I think right now it’s best to remember Ed and everything he taught us. Remember to take the sour, but always be on the look out for something sweet. And when you find it, get your fill! Share it! And remember that regardless of what this life brings you, don’t forget——“Goodness”
Be sure to like Sm’Art & Smitten on Facebook. Thank you for sharing.
I would say this club was exclusive but with statistics saying that 1 in 6 couples are dealing with the pain of infertility I know this can’t be true. Why is it then that it feels exclusive? It feels like you are the only one dealing with this? That the universe has singled you out, maybe even punishing you for your past sins? It took me awhile to get it, but I finally realized that although this wasn’t an exclusive club it was definitely a secret one!
My dad had struggled with alcoholism, so I knew a thing or two about keeping secrets, telling lies to hide the pain, shame and anger of it all. Tuck it back, keep a stiff upper lip, don’t let anybody see that you are weak, you are flawed, you are broken. And there you are, somehow you’ve arrived, your own secret club: Infertility Anonymous.
I had never expected to find myself in this club. I had fallen in love with Mike in high school. He had already navigated the world of teen parenthood, and he was fully aware of the stigma that stained him. He was just a child himself when he was blessed with that bouncing baby boy. His relationship with the mother was a mess, however, and the break up even worse.
He was always in a tug of war with himself: fight for a relationship and potentially make things worse; or, let him go and accept whatever he was offered, hoping the lil’ guy wouldn’t hate him too much for it. For the most part Mike chose the latter, hoping that if he wasn’t intruding too much, Joe would be better off. It was less painful for him to view it as an adoption of sorts, but at the same time he knowingly accepted the title of deadbeat. Needless to say the thought of pregnancy and parenthood made me a little apprehensive and Mike utterly terrified. With my always irregular cycle, I know there were many times we both stared at a pregnancy test praying it was negative, never knowing that years later we’d be doing the same but trying to will it to be positive.
We were married just over three years (we were together for eight) when we started trying. I was only 23 and he was 25, so it still felt kind of rebellious. It was fun back then, we’d pull the goalie so to speak (that’s Canadian for having unprotected sex) and I assumed that in no time I’d be knocked up. How hard could it be? He’d done it before, and my family was like a baby factory so I figured we would have this baby making business in the bag.
Almost a year slides by and nothing. My always irregular periods are now nearly nonexistent, so I visit my GP. Blood tests and ultrasounds reveal nothing. It might be PCOS or endometriosis, but they aren’t sure. I read anything I can find on these topics and it appears to make sense: my weight gain seems out of control; my period is irregular; and my hormones are all over the place. I research every possibility and try to listen to what my doctor told me: “You are young, some of these things make it take longer, keep trying.” I am diagnosed with Hashimotos Thyroiditis and honestly I’m thrilled. I think, “that must be the problem.” Now I can fix it and all of my dreams and plans can start happening. We keep trying and I can’t help but buy things for our baby. We have discussions all the time about this hypothetical baby. What will the gender be? What should we name him/her? Will this angel have my eyes or Mike’s adorable dimples? I dare to think there is hope. Another year slides by and then another. I’ve seen several specialists, each one passing me along to another, and with each one, I’m put on waiting lists. Everything moves at a snails pace and I try to be patient, but it seems that no one can help me and my frustration grows. I get all kinds of instruments and doctors poking around in my downstairs. They still aren’t sure what the problem is, but we try clomid again, do more tests and talk about other methods to induce ovulation, injections and way more tests.
By this time it all feels very clinical, the passion, excitement and glowing prospect of pregnancy have long since faded.
But shortly after year five, finally a breakthrough: an MRI confirms that I have a brain tumour. I take it in stride as its benign and thankfully the treatment means I may get pregnant after all. Unfortunately, though, the medication makes me feel nauseous all the time and my mood swings border on dangerous. Again we find another year creeping by and still no baby. To make matters worse, everywhere I turn there are beautiful little babies being born. Each perfect chubby cherub I see rubs salt in my wounds.
My family and friends had been asking for some time if we plan on starting a family. One old fella at the restaurant I worked even goes as far as to say I should throw my wedding rings in the bush if I don’t wanna give my man a family. I try my best to keep my secret hidden, brush their questions and comments aside and stay where I feel safe: hidden within the walls of my secret club. Every now and then the cracks would show. I would tell someone my secret, and they would offer advice, all with good intentions of course, but nothing they say can help. It just makes me angry. They say “Maybe you should adopt” and I’d think sure, no biggie, just years of being under a microscope, years of waiting, a hefty price tag for foreign adoption or the potential of heartbreak if the “real mother” as I saw it at the time, changes her mind and takes the baby back. Or they’d casually tell me “just do IVF,” as if the physical and financial burdens that go along with it could possibly come close to a casual decision. But the most common nugget of advice was just to “RELAX” and honestly its not the worst advice, but it didn’t help in any way. I always found myself fantasizing about inflicting pain on the person who so graciously offered this bit of wisdom. It was far too painful to tell them we’d been researching adoption since about year three. I was too embarrassed to tell them how I’d been saving for years to “buy my baby” and that with each medical attempt and subsequent failure I would retreat even farther into my secret club. I built walls, I dug holes, I did whatever I could to keep people out, even my husband. This was my cross to bear. After all it was my fault, it was my body that wasn’t doing as it was intended. How could I tell anyone that deep down I feared I had somehow been marked by death? With my Dad and grandparents all gone, it was as if the grim reaper was on my heels, definitely to close to bring forth life.
Depression washed over me. The pain of the infertility was like the grief of losing my father, maybe worse,because it seemed like no one would understand. It was like it didn’t matter to anyone. I was carrying all of this pain and they didn’t even notice. But how could they know, after all I always kept the doors to my secret club locked up tight.
I hate to compare infertility to death, it sounds so dramatic, but for me it was like that. I had dreamed of growing old with someone, having a bunch of babies and one day watching our grand babes play while we sat on our front porch. They were simple dreams, maybe even kinda cheesy, but they seemed to be dying and there was nothing I could do but work through the grief. Like one does with any kind of loss; I went through the shock and denial, moved onto anger, bargaining and depression and finally acceptance. And I know, this all sounds very heavy, but that was why I had my club. And although I felt safe when I would retreat there. It was a very lonely place to be. It took a long time, but eventually I accepted that my vision of “how things were supposed to go” had died. I slowly realized that by tearing down that old dream, I was able to open up, let a bit of sun shine in and start building some new dreams. I found friends I loved and trusted, I let some of my pain spill out and they listened. I finally opened up to one of my high school friends and found she was building her own secret club. I wondered how many of us are out there? Each situation is similar but just different enough to keep us feeling alone, secluded. I started talking and slowly my walls came down. I reached out to groups on the internet. Each story was bittersweet, filled with ups and downs. I began to view things in a new light. Each couple pushed past fear and loss and kept trying, despite enormous challenges. They weren’t broken or weak. They were strong, determined and resilient. If they were all of those things, then maybe I was too. I was still in a secret club as the internet offered anonymity, but I could speak and share my feelings without fear. We Infertile had our own code, a secret language I couldn’t seem to get the hang of…TTC 6.5yrs, 2 rounds s.o, iui’s, considering ivf. Every story was like a lifeline, a rope that helped me cling to hope. Maybe I would be somebody’s mama someday, even if it wasn’t the way I had envisioned. Each friend that let me cry on there shoulder or listened to an angry rant, was actually helping me climb out of the holes I had dug. I told my husband all of my deep dark secrets, the jealousy I harboured toward the people who had been bestowed this blessing, pregnant woman especially. I was even upset with him, he was a father and even if the situation hadn’t been ideal, he had a child and I had nothing. I revealed the anger I felt when someone dared to complain to me about their superb fertility, the pitfalls of parenting, their pregnancy, or, the circumstances of the birth. It was an envy I couldn’t escape. I’d give anything to have those things to complain about, to trade in my membership, switch from Infertility Anonymous over to the Mommy Martyrs Club. I worried that with those thoughts, he’d think I was a monster; but he didn’t. So I’d test him, say something ridiculous or crazy, we’d see a cute baby and I’d ask him “Do you want that one? I mean it comes with a stroller and everything.” It’s an awful joke I know, but oddly, even that level of crazy didn’t scare him off. I figured he must really love me, maybe I’m safe out here after all. We both have clouds that follow us and they roll in from time to time, and sometimes we get caught in the storm. Even though we couldn’t stop the rain from falling, we could hold each other till it went away. That’s what we did. As they say “without the rain, there would never be rainbows,” and for us this was true. Finally in August of 2012 after nearly seven years of waiting, we received our miracle, our baby. I had heard that a baby may be one of the most common place of miracles, but it was miracle just the same.
I suppose I’ll never know why we were chosen to be in this infertility club, but mine will no longer be anonymous. I hope that like me you find some comfort in finding out that you aren’t alone. I hope that you find people you trust to talk to and help you carry this burden. And most of all I pray that you all find a way to cling together, weathering the storm while you wait for your miracle. Keep your hope alive and focus on seeing that rainbow.
I am no stranger to hard times, but somehow every time there is a crisis I find myself shocked. I’m walking along soaking up the sun, when BAM a big ugly storm cloud tears open and pours its fury all over me. Or worse, all over my loved ones. And while I am aware there will be good times and bad in this life, and I’ve seen my share of both, I want to believe I am entitled to some sunny days. I want to throw on my sunglasses, and believe that I can will away the clouds. But it doesn’t really work that way. And of course I know this, but like I said, every time there is a crisis I am shocked.
When my Dad died just before my high school graduation, I said to myself, “this can’t be happening to me, he needs to be here.” But despite my shock and denial, he was gone. And despite it all, I trudged along, I found ways to cope, and eventually found a new normal. When my hubby and I struggled for years to get pregnant, doctors discovered I had an auto immune disease as well as a tumor on my pituitary gland causing the infertility. I thought, “this can’t be happening to me, I have plans.” But despite the shock and denial it was happening, my plans be damned. But despite it all I trudged along, I found ways to cope, and eventually found a new normal. And when we finally welcomed our kiddo, after months of insomnia and bouts of self induced isolation, I realized I had postpartum anxiety if not depression. And once again I thought, “this can’t be happening to me! I’ve wanted this for so long, it is supposed to be perfect.” But once again I trudged along, found ways to cope, and eventually found a new normal. Then one morning my mom called to tell me my eldest sister had died. This time I wasn’t just shocked. I was numb. I thought, “ok, something has got to give.” But not more than a year later one of my other sisters called to tell me her husband has been diagnosed with cancer. Like an old war vet, I started to prepare for battle, but suddenly I found myself shell shocked. I should be used to bombs going off around me but I’m not. I was completely consumed in thought. I know I’m pretty sturdy on my own but I want to carry everyone’s grief, fear and worry. I put others needs in front of my own. Sometimes I’ll do anything to make the people I care about laugh. I just want to control the situation and make it better for everyone. I know that I’m strong, but suddenly I am tired. These old army boots are wearing out, and I am getting sick of just trudging along. I need a break.
And so, I sought respite in my art. Even when life seems ugly, I can turn to the arts and feel like there is still beauty to discover and create. So I head outside and I take photos. I head inside, read poetry and play with my paints. One of these particular days I was working on a new watercolour piece, and it wasn’t going exactly how I wanted it to. I find watercolours difficult. I want to control it, go over it until its perfect. But it doesn’t work that way, if it doesn’t go how you want, you can’t change it. They are fluid and messy, but sometimes when you go with the flow, what you thought was a mess turns out to be something really beautiful. And suddenly I realize that, that is what I need to do. I need to stop trudging along, I need to start going with the flow. I can’t control everyone, or all of the things that could happen. I can only control what I am doing right now. I am going to stop surviving and start thriving. I know that bad things can and do happen. I can’t control that. But I also know things don’t stay bad forever. Life always keeps moving on, and I have seen with my own eyes just how short it can be. I decide right then and there that I am going to make the most of this life. I will rediscover my curiosity and hopefully my passions. I am going to find new ways to express myself and share my gifts. I’m going to look for joy and beauty even when everything seems to be at its worst. And I’m guessing that along the way, just as I have encountered in the past, it won’t be perfect and may at times even be messy. But maybe, just maybe, this life could be like the painting. It may occasionally be a mess, and sometimes I will get stains on my hands and heart. But if I stop trying to make it perfect, and just go with the flow, even despite the messy bits. Maybe it will turn out to be something beautiful too. So here I go, let’s raise a glass and drink it up. I’m off to make a beautiful mess! And I have a feeling its going to be a masterpiece.