I used to say I’m trying to get back to normal, but I’ve learned, that I’ll never be able to return. The last 2 years have changed me/us – 5 miscarriages will do that! That old normal is gone, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If I let it, it could easily take over and be a very negative influence on my entire life. But, I don’t want it to be, so I will not let it be. I need to take control and make sure it doesn’t become the dark cloud over my head for the rest of my life (that little dark cloud can follow behind me, as part of my being, but it cannot consume me).
So, now I think it’s about finding a new normal. And in order to find my new normal, and accept it, I need to retrace what my old normal was before RPL, what has become my normal for the last 2 years and what I want my new normal to be which may or may not include children.
First, here’s what I know about my old normal (pre-RPL):
- We always wanted kids, but were focused on making sure that didn’t happen for years and just assumed it would happen when we wanted it to.
- When we did start trying for our family, there was excitement that first time, and even a bit the second time.
- We travelled – Thailand, Cambodia, New York, San Francisco, Western Canada, Toronto, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, etc.
- We worked a lot and very hard
- We always had small home reno projects on the go – in our first two homes, so far we have successfully built 1 deck; finished 2 bathrooms; painted more rooms then I can count; more landscaping projects then I’d like to remember; etc.
- We laughed
- We camped, hiked, and went back country backpacking
- We fished
- We skied
- We drank and ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
- I ran
- I biked
- I read for pleasure
Second, here’s what I know about my current normal:
- My life seems to be centered on wanting what I do not have and may never have. This is not a healthy way to live. The problem, I don’t know how to move beyond this and even if I decided I’m done with trying or I want to adopt, it is not as simple as just what I want. I am part of a partnership, it takes two of us to make this decision. And unfortunately, often we are not on the same page at the same time (only because we both are constantly changing what we want to do).
- My husband and I used to never argue about anything that mattered. Sure, we might have a disagreement about who has not been emptying the dishwasher enough, or who is working too much, or where to go on vacation. I simply don’t consider these types of “disagreements” as important. They do not count anymore. I’m sick of the real legitimate arguments we do have – about what’s next, are we trying again, how many times are we going to try, how do we make a decision this big, what do we do, how much more can I or him take, etc? You know, the ones that really matter to our lives today and tomorrow. We don’t have these arguments frequently, but when they do they really suck. Even though professionally I was paid to negotiate and have difficult conversations on a regular basis, I am not good at arguing with people I love. I am not good at making people I love suffer or feel bad. I am afraid that these arguments might eventually break us.
- Everyone else but us in our circle of friends is having kids. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone. I refuse to attend baby showers, I just send cards and a gift card inside.
- We avoid physical activity that could be hazardous to a potential pregnancy – no skiing, no hard/long hikes, no backpacking, no biking, no running, etc.
- I’m constantly emotionally tired. I’m drained. I’m exhausted. I’m fearful of what is coming next. I’m tired – did I mention, I’m tired?
- I’m a living, walking, talking encyclopedia on Recurrent Pregnancy Loss, Miscarriage and Infertility. I talk about this all the time – people ask questions, I get to answer them. Constantly.
- I’m writing. For the first time, I’m spending time writing for me. I am working on a book. I’m scared of putting myself out there, but I’m going to do it. I need to do it.
- I’m not working any more. Part of me loves this. Another part of me is so devastated that I’ve given up my career. I may not have loved my recent employer, but I loved being part of something, working towards something, and achieving success. Sure, I’m working towards something important right now – our family – but I’m not achieving success. At times I feel very much like a failure.
- I have been (and therefore my husband has been) undertaking projects around the house in an attempt to recapture our past passions – we’ve painted about 50% of our house, we’ve re-finished an antique shelf, and I’m planning to start a small face lift to one of our bathrooms this weekend. These are also scheduled around safe times, when we know we aren’t pregnant and I can be around chemicals, dust, heavy lifting, etc.
- We don’t travel nearly as much as we used to, but when we do it’s a direct result of avoidance (i.e. Peru)
- There is no excitement left.
Lastly, what is my new normal? Or rather, what do I want my new normal to be?
- I want to achieve the title of published author. This will likely help me deal with a lot of my issues regarding not working, and will also let me tell my story.
- Acceptance of our situation. I logically know there is a very good chance we will not have children. I know the stats are not in our favour and I am really not sure that we will choose adoption. But, I need to move towards true acceptance of both of these. Some days I think I’m there, but most days I know my heart is not on the same page as my head. And, I think my husband is further away from acceptance then I am. And we will both need to achieve acceptance.
- Calm and peace need to take a larger role in our lives. I need to live in a more relaxed state with less anxiety. This will take a lot of work as I am a very high strung, type-a personality. I know I have recently taken some very large steps to get there by not working, but there is more work to be done from within my personal life. This means my husband needs to find calm and peace as well because I feed off his energy.
- I need something to define myself with. I have always defined myself by my academic and professional achievements. However, since I stopped working, work clearly cannot fulfill this need for me right now. And, clearly, the idea of being a mother to our children isn’t going to make the list at least not anytime soon. I have no idea how I will define myself in the near future, but I know for my personal self-worth, I need to find something meaningful. (The closest thing I have right now is writing, but so long as I am writing under a pseudonym, then I will not be using this activity to define who I am, because no-one is allowed to know).
- At the same time, I need to continue to rationalize that not working does not make me a failure. I’m really struggling with this. I know from a psychological and recovery perspective, this is important, but I suspect that I’ll end up going back to work in some way shape or form sooner rather than later (and given I’ve just submitted a proposal with a mentor of mine, this might be happening much sooner than expected).
- I want to continue to travel. I want to travel because we want to travel, not because we need to escape.
- I want to plan in advance, in more than 1 month increments. I want to book a trip 10 months out, and not worry about if it will actually happen. I want to make a commitment and I know I can actually keep it.
- I want to live without being worried about the potential damage I’m doing to myself and a little baby. I want to start on that big bathroom reno that will take about at least a full month of evening and weekend time, that includes chemicals and heavy lifting.
- Happiness needs to return to our lives on a daily basis. I am not depressed, but nor am I as happy as I once was. I don’t know how to make that happen, while at the same time experiencing miscarriage after miscarriage. I know there will be no excitement when I see two pink lines next time, and honestly, I wouldn’t expect to with our history. But I need happiness to return to my life.
So, now that I’ve figured out where I’ve been, where I am now, and where I want to be, I guess I need to figure out how to make the transition from here to there. And, to complicate things, I need to find a way to do this, while we try again for a healthy pregnancy/child. This means, that as long as we continue to try, then some of the items on the “where I want to be list” (i.e. not living in one month intervals) will be harder, if not impossible to achieve. So, I need to find a way to achieve a balance, which allows me to live in a hybrid state somewhere between where I am now and where I want to be.
I have no idea how to do this, but it is my new goal.
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately focusing on the possibility of adoption and all the fears and worries that relate to adoption. And, with the events of last week, and our 5th loss, more and more I do not believe we will end up with biological children. After our 5th loss, I just see that hope fading, and fading quickly for that matter.
So, in addition to the possibility of adoption, I have also been thinking about the possibility of a childfree life, I just haven’t spent much time writing about it. I see two distinct options ahead of us:
- Children – either biological or non-biological
If you asked me any time prior to experiencing recurrent pregnancy loss / miscarriage, what will my future family look like, I would have automatically assumed my family would consist of my husband, myself and 2 or 3 children. Children would be part of the equation. Like most people, I had been taught through the education system that sex = baby. I made the assumption that it was just that simple, and I understand that for most people it is that simple. But for my husband and I, it is just not that simple. And, we had truly never considered a life without children before. And, now it is a real possibility, and we are forced to consider it as an option.
So, now thanks for RPL, we’ve been given time to think, like really think about what our family will look like. What do I want my family to look like? What am I okay with my family looking like?
This can be complicated, as want and okay are two very different perspectives. The want is obvious, but the okay with is slowly becoming our reality. So, here is what I have figured out:
- My husband is the most important person in the world to me. He is my family. He and I are the only one that truly matters in all of this decision making. I will sacrifice almost anything to make us happy.
- The ideal family – husband, wife, 2 or 3 kids – still hasn’t changed. But I am accepting and fully acknowledge that the ideal is unlikely to be attainable for us. I’ve pretty much given up on the idea of 2 or 3, and now really only think about the possibility of 1.
- Having one child will not be the end of the world, and in some ways may be a good thing. By having fewer children, we will have more money to give that one child every opportunity possible. For example, our child will be cultured as we will travel more frequently than most families with multiple children.
- Children may not be and do not have to be part of my life. I can accept that as our reality, if I know we tried everything to make a healthy child our reality.
- Biology really doesn’t matter to me, but heath does, which is what makes the the idea of adoption very difficult for me. I want a healthy, non-addicted, non-disabled child. When considering children, this matters more to me than anything else.
- I will not sacrifice my life, my husband’s life, and our happiness simply to be parents to any child regardless of the child’s health. Our quality of life matters, and counts in this decision. We will be happier without children, then we will be with a child who suffers from something like fetal alcohol syndrome. I respect and admire anyone who can do this, but I know we cannot. I fully accept this about us.
- I am not afraid of a childfree life, like I am adoption. I know what that life will look like. I know my husband and I will be together, we will travel, we will enjoy the finer things in life, we will likely have nicer and newer cars than most and we probably won’t not need to worry about finances. But, we will likely harbor some sadness for the family that we never had, and we will have to learn to live with this in the background – sort of like a little grey cloud that will follow us around for the rest of our lives.
So, what does this all mean? There is a very good chance we will end up childfree. Depending on the hour/day/week, I think this will likely be our future, rather than having children through adoption.
I think eventually we will give up this obsession with children, with putting my body through torture, with putting our spirits through hell, and simply chose to focus on our happiness and a healthy lifestyle.
(But, don’t be surprised if I write something that completely contradicts this next week or sometime in the future).