resolve to know more

Knowledge is power. Some of us have a thirst for knowledge. We strive to know more about everything we encounter. I’m the type of person who will see something that sparks my interest on the news and research it for the next two hours online. I’ve always been that person. If I won the lottery, I would probably become a career student. Learning things is interesting to me.

However, there are some people who don’t want to know more — or they only want to know so much. They see what they want to see, and that’s about the extent of it. They have tunnel vision.

I know I said that I didn’t want to write about infertility anymore. This is still true. This is not an infertility blog. Yet, I need to write about this topic because it’s eating me up inside. . . . Instead of encouraging outsiders to “learn more” about infertility, the adoption process, and other family building options, perhaps we should be encouraging ourselves. Before asking others to resolve to know more about who we are and what we deal with on a day-to-day basis, we need to resolve this point about each other.

What am I getting at here?

I’m getting at the fact that we can scream and shout all we want about the importance of educating the masses re: infertility et al. However, until we have educated ourselves about each other’s journeys, our words are lost. We must fully grasp and accept the differences in our stories — and respect these differences — before we ask others to do the same for us.

This means not putting others down when they’ve chosen a path that doesn’t look like ours. This means embracing those individuals or couples who resolve their infertility by choosing to live child free. It means acknowledging that there are members of this community who lead different lifestyles than we do, whether it be based on religion, sexual orientation, or other factors. It means not slamming another family building option to elevate your own. This means truly understanding who and what the ALI community encompasses before speaking on behalf of it.

Often times, when we set off down our own path, determined to resolve our infertility based upon the choice(s) we’ve made, we lose sight of the paths that run parallel to ours. We forget that there are others out there who struggle with the same desire that we struggle with, only they haven’t made the same choices we’ve made. They don’t necessarily have the same values or motivations that we do. Their thought processes are different. Their decisions are maybe ones that we would never consider.

We get tunnel vision. Our eyes and our minds become closed off to anything that deviates from what we view as the “norm.” And this is not okay. We need to broaden our view.

On the last day of “National Infertility Awareness Week,” I would encourage this of all of you who are active members in the ALI community: instead of asking others to resolve to know more about us and our disease, look in the mirror and ask yourself the same question. Ask this of others of the ALI community. Encourage your friends to learn more about each other. Ask them to stand up for one another, even when it’s about an issue to which they have no personal ties: an IVF patient standing up for an adoptive mom about adoption language or parents via surrogacy supporting a couple who has chosen to live child free.

Resolve that you will be a better advocate for not just your choices, but for the choices of others. Resolve to respect those choices. And resolve that although you may never understand what it’s like to be in another person’s shoes, you can certainly help that person on his or her journey to the end of the path — and beyond.

no thanks needed

This news story has been floating around on my Facebook and Twitter feeds for the last day or so from other moms. I finally watched the video, and . . . [insert confused face].

Motherhood is hard work. Don’t I know it. While I have a full-time job out of the home, I’m also a full-time mom. I wake up every morning at 6 a.m. and drag my sleepy toddler with me on the bus by 7 a.m. so that she can be at school in time for breakfast, by 8. Then, I’m off to work for 9 hours until it’s time to head back to daycare and pick her up. I commute home with her in the afternoon, which is inevitable twice as long due to traffic. (Do you know how difficult it is to keep an exhausted toddler occupied on a bus that’s practically stationary for 45+ minutes? HARD.) We get home. Someone makes dinner. Our daughter gets a bath. We have some down time that consists of reading and/or Sesame Street, and then it’s off to bed for her and (one hour later) for me.

Weekends are exhausting, too. We have chores to do, like grocery shopping, cleaning, and laundry, but no toddler wants to sit inside all day and do those things. We work in time at the park or other activities. We have to fit in at least two hours, sometimes three, for a nap. And we are always moving. Sitting still is not an option, because she doesn’t sit still. Not unless she’s sleeping, of course.

Yet, I don’t consider being a mom a job.

A job is defined as “the work that a person does regularly in order to earn money.” I have a job. It’s the place I go to every day and execute tasks for which an employer pays me. Being a mom is not my job. I wouldn’t even consider it my job if I were a stay-at-home mom. Being a mom was a choice that I made. It’s a role I play. It’s part of me, but it certainly doesn’t define me. Being a mom is important — to me. That doesn’t mean that it’s important to everyone or should be important to everyone. Not every woman wants to be a mom, and that’s okay. Not every woman can be a mom. Does that make their value as a woman or a human being any less significant?

I don’t want my role as a parent to be defined as work. I don’t want my worth as a woman to be defined by the fact that I am a mother. I don’t want the fact that I am a mother to lessen anything else significant I might do in my life. Yes, mothers are amazing. ALL women are amazing. All women are important and can do incredible things. We don’t have to be mothers in order to achieve that status.

Motherhood is a responsibility I have, and it’s a hard one, but I made the conscious decision to take on that responsibility. I didn’t become a mom to get a pat on the back or have people marvel at how “difficult” my life must be. I didn’t become a mom because I wanted my existence to be defined by the number of times I wipe my child’s ass or how many hours of sleep I lose in a lifetime. I became a mom because I wanted to be a mom, and I wanted to share my love with another human being.

It’s not any more or less complicated than that.

rising above

I’m officially in the last year of my twenties. It seems surreal to me. I don’t feel as if I’m almost 30. In fact, I’d venture to say that I feel older and I have for some time. (And this has nothing to do with the fact that I sit on the couch in my slippers and PJs at night and play Tetris on my phone. Nope, not one bit.)

It’s been a long near-decade. I thought it would get easier as time went along, but that wasn’t always the case. Speed bumps popped up often and continued for miles on end. Then, they’d disappear for a bit and return with a vengeance — just as I’d become comfortable with the smooth, open road again.

There have been some speed bumps in my life lately. Issues that have tested my ability to weather the road ahead. I’m not going to lie: these speed bumps have been wearing me down. I thought that I had built up quite a layer of thick skin over the years. It turns out that no skin is ever thick enough for battles that reach the core of your personal integrity and character.

Yet, I carry on. Partly because I have to, and partly because I do recognize that these are only speed bumps. No one is taking the road away. It’s simply become more difficult to travel.

I’m thankful that this is the final year in my twenties because it’s been a rough haul, and maybe my thirties will offer smoother travels. I’m also thankful because I can look back on my previous battles to try and gain some perspective.

Yes, what I’m going through right now is difficult and stressful. Yes, it’s unfair. But at the end of the day, I know that what I’m experiencing isn’t the end of the world.

This is not life or death. This is not malignant or benign. This is not positive or negative. This is not losing or gaining a child. This is not choosing your future. This is not choosing your child’s future. This is not watching your child suffer. It’s (for lack of a better word) bullshit, and it’s up to me to rise above it. I know that I have a roof over my head. I know that there is food in my kitchen. I know that I have an amazing, loving family to come home to each night — a family that wasn’t always this complete. A family we worked hard to bring together.

If I can achieve THAT after years of heartache and suffering, then I should be able to endure anything else that’s thrown in front of me on my path.

I know I can.

dear boomer

Dear Boomer,

While I’ve never given birth to a child, I am a mother, and I have a few thoughts regarding your comments made about New York Mets’ second baseman Daniel Murphy and his paternity leave that prevented him from playing on Opening Day.

1. C-sections are not games. Very rarely are they offered because a woman wishes to have her child on a certain day to avoid some type of “scheduling conflict.” They are almost always reserved for women who have health risks or who’ve had prior babies via C-section. Why is that? Because they are dangerous. They carry a higher likelihood of complications for both mom and baby — running the gamut from minor breathing issues to uterine rupture. 13 out of every 100,000 women die after C-sections each year, compared with 3.5 out of 100,000 vaginal deliveries (source).

2. Childbirth, in general, is not a game. Regardless of the method in which your baby makes it into the world, and regardless of when that occurs, anything can happen in the days after a child is born (says the woman who watched as her daughter spent nearly six weeks in the NICU for a variety of issues). He or she can develop unforeseen complications, as can mom. Just ask someone like Matt Logelin, whose world was turned upside down when he lost his wife after their daughter was born. Ask any parent who has lost their baby suddenly after birth — and there are plenty to ask. Nearly 19,000 babies died in 2006 during their first 28 days of life in the United States alone.

But the interest in a father being present at his child’s birth and immediately following isn’t based on fear of tragedy occurring. I imagine it’s mostly just about doing the right thing. Which brings me to my final point:

3. Being a dad is not a game. In a society that’s consistently harping on men to be more involved with their families, to be better role models, I find it refreshing that Murphy wanted to take a few days off to spend with his wife and newborn child. 24 MILLION children in America live without a father in the home. I’m sure that number would be higher if you counted the households where Dad is constantly focused on work instead of engaging with his wife/partner and children. Instead of berating Murphy, we should be celebrating him as an example to which ALL fathers — famous or not — can live up to.

The only game here is baseball. Murphy understood that it needed to wait, and kudos to him for having more brains (and balls) than you and anyone else who criticized him for stepping up and being a man.

Sincerely,
Katie