I will never, ever, ever forget the day my gynecologist informed us that we would most likely never have children of our own and that we should start considering other options. Until then, nobody had ever said the dreaded word: infertility. But let's face it, when you're in your early 30s and you've been trying for more than two years to get pregnant, you pretty much jump to that conclusion yourself.
I remember sitting there, talking to the doctor so very calmly. We discussed IVF and why it wasn't a good fit for us. We discussed further surgery and how it wouldn't likely improve our odds of getting pregnant. We discussed adoption and how that was probably our best bet. And through all this I felt TheODDDad's eyes on me, although I couldn't figure out why.
I remember smiling and thanking the doctor for all her advice on our way out. I remember holding hands with TheODDDad as we walked back to the car. I remember him opening the car door for me and helping me in. I remember laughing to myself at how gentle he was being with me despite how strong I obviously was. And I remember falling to pieces in the time it took for him to walk around the car and get in the driver's seat.
The doctor had confirmed what I had figured out a long time before -- that children were not in my future (or so I thought at the time). That I would never know the feeling of lying in bed with TheODDDad's hand on my stomach, feeling our little one move. That I would never have a child with TheODDDad's eyes or smile. And I was devastated.
Once the tears subsided, self-preservation kicked in. I'm a researcher and a writer, so I knew exactly what I needed to help me through: a book. At the book store I perused the shelves, which only served to make me angrier. It seemed that every book was a "how to" book that offered false hope to desperate women -- how to eat your way to pregnancy, how to exercise your way to pregnancy, how to meditate your way to pregnancy, how to relax your way to pregnancy. And then I found it, the book that would become my lifeline. This book validated everything I was feeling and everything I was going through. It helped me deal with my emotions and gave me tips on talking to friends and family members about what I was going through. It was written by someone who had been through this herself, and it made me realize that I wasn't alone in what I was feeling. And that is what gave me hope. Not hope that I would get pregnant, but hope that I could get through this. That I would be OK.
One of the lessons I took away from my experiences with infertility is that there is no more powerful feeling than knowing you're not alone in what you're going through. There is also no feeling so alienating as believing yourself not only to be alone in what you're going through but to be responsible for it. As parents of children with mental health issues, that's very often a place where we find ourselves, especially as we begin the journey to understanding our children. We feel alone, trapped, judged, and to blame. And those aren't good feelings.
Recently I was asked to review a book called Easy to Love but Hard to Raise. If you've noticed, I don't review products or take part in give-aways. Not normally, at any rate. But Adrienne Ehlert Bashista and Kay Marner are both writers, bloggers, and mothers like me...like us...so I was interested in reading their book. That, and I got the book for free.
What I discovered was a book full of stories from parents like me. Real parents. Real stories. Real children. Real laughter. Real tears. Real love. It's not a book that offers false hope to desperate parents -- how to feed your children to "cure" them, how to discipline your children to "cure" them, how to play with your children to "cure" them, how to work with your children to "cure" them. Rather, it's a book that validates everything I've been through and everything I see coming towards me (duck!). That tells me that I'm not alone in this. That tells me that I'm going to be OK. That we're going to be OK.
And a book like that can be a lifeline.
If you'd like your own copy of Easy to Love but Hard to Raise, leave me a comment sharing one thing that makes your child easy to love and one thing that makes them hard to raise. The winner will be drawn at random. The contest closes on November 16th. If you can't be bothered to do that, head on over to Amazon to order your own copy.
[Note: Other than the free book, which I had planned on purchasing anyway, I was in no way compensated for this blog. All opinions are my own. It takes a hell of a lot more than a $13 book to buy me, but go ahead and try.]