As a mother of five children, two amazing kids here with me and three beautiful angels, this seems like it should be an easy question to answer. I don't like being asked that common question that I know is usually just a part of small talk. I am not ashamed to answer the way I want to, to also tell them about my three beautiful angels too, but sometimes I just don't feel up to explaining or having them say, "Oh, I'm so sorry." I know I shouldn't care about the awkwardness that my answer seems to create for the person asking the question, but often I just don't want to go through that. I feel guilt in saying, "Two. A son and daughter," but I feel my babies know they are forever a part of my heart and how much I love them. I don't feel the need to always explain that love to a stranger or acquaintance. My beautiful, sweet babies existed. They were precious, perfect, and beautiful. I will never ever forget Griffin James, Gavin Marc and Jessany Jade and how much love and joy they brought into my heart the moment I found out about them. They taught me the love a mother feels for her children. I was devastated when they died. I felt like I couldn't go on. I wanted them more than anything. I fought infertility so hard to become pregnant with them, they were IVF babies. I wanted to watch them grow up, to be their mother here, love them and hold them. I imagine them as they might be, as I watch Gage and Ember grow and change. I will always be their mother and they will always be my children and yes, I have five children.
My beautiful daughter, Jessany Jade, would be eleven today. It's also my grandpa, Papa's, 80th birthday and my cousin's 29th birthday today, as well. There was a big family celebration and most everyone was there. I actually had a really nice time, although the thought crossed my mind a few times, if anyone even remembered her existence. Was I the only one who thought about Jessany on her eleventh birthday? No one mentioned her to me except for my husband. I pictured her with a party dress on and another birthday cake on the table.
She was born at 24 weeks and only lived for 25 short hours. She was strong and beautiful. I will carry her memory in my heart until we meet again. Happy Birthday, sweet one. I love you.
Reading posts and comments on infertility and infant loss blogs and Facebook groups, I see so much pain that comes with trying so hard to become a parent and not having success, or going through the devastating loss of a baby. The difficulties that those going through these issues are their whole world, at the time they are living through it. When I was going through those things, I felt like I was one of the very few in the world, that this was happening to. I felt so alone. I now know there are so very many people who struggle with these things each day. I hope my story, Not What We Were Expecting, can provide inspiration and hope to those people.
What do I know of that pain? Yes, I have two beautiful, healthy children...now. I lived so much of my life struggling to make my dream of having a family become a reality. I feel guilt at times reading those posts, being glad it's not me who is filling those shoes anymore. I know how much it hurt. It's hard to even think back on those times. I was basically obsessed with wanting a child to love, that I didn't feel like I was really living my life to its fullest, for so very many years. I was so focused on the goal of having a family or I was going through another excruciating loss, that I was miserable so much of the time. I felt like I would never have what everyone else did.
It's hard for people to understand what it's like unless you've been there. I've been there. I wouldn't wish it on anyone to know that kind of hurt. I'm glad there are online support groups and blogs that can help in dealing with the heartbreaking journey that infertility and loss brings. Find support in others going through the same types of situations. I wish I would have reached out to others when I was having such a hard time, maybe I wouldn't have felt so alone and hopeless. I wish I wouldn't have been so hard on and demanding of myself. I wish I would have focused more on the little things to find enjoyment in life.
I'm so thankful that we didn't give up on our dream of having a family, but I want to send the message to those struggling, to be good to yourself and to each other. Find happiness in all the places you can. I know it's a hard thing to do when you are hurting, but you deserve joy in your life whenever you can grab it. I think of myself when I was going through all of these things, and how I would have reacted to someone with two children trying to give me advice about what I was feeling. I know that I wouldn't have taken it well, what does she know?
This article, Acceptance in Infertility: 9 Untruths in the 'Never Give Up' Message by Justine Brooks Froelker, is pretty great. She is very right. My husband and I struggled for over a dozen years before we were blessed with our son. What we went through sometimes felt like a living hell. I questioned our choices and felt unbelievable pain throughout most of it. Was it worth it to go through what we did? Yes, I know so. I can't imagine my life without our children. Could we have saved ourselves a huge amount of heartache if we had chosen to accept and "give up" on our dream of having a family? Yes, I think so. So many times, we lost ourselves and each other. We probably could have learned to be happy living our life childfree, if that is what we chose to do, but it wasn't what was right for us. I know there will be some people who read my book, Not What We Were Expecting, and wonder why we put ourselves through all the pain we did, but in the end, I am glad we didn't give up. I feel that it is a very personal decision of when or if to "give up" on your dreams. I am guilty of spreading the "Never Give Up" message, but I wholeheartedly believe everyone has the right to choose what is best for themselves. If you choose acceptance of your infertility, I think that also takes great courage and strength, maybe just as much as struggling through infertility treatments and losses. I will say that if we hadn't had our son when we did, I might see things from a totally different perspective. I was to the point that I couldn't take it (loss) anymore. My heart goes out to those struggling and to be able to take control of your life back, from infertility and loss, in acceptance is something to be greatly admired. What do you think? Give your take in the comments.