400 and 26 [NIAW]

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” –Henry David Thoreau 

This past week’s series has been an invitation to look through the eyes of my infertility for a moment, as part of the NIAW (National Infertility Awareness Week). It seemed most fitting, then, to end this week by sharing a friend’s blog post that I’m told was inspired by this series. May I invite you to look through another set of beautiful eyes … 

Redwoods

Last week, I drove 400 miles to a Writer’s Conference in the Redwoods. Each mile would have been worth it for the sake of meeting just this one  new friend: Robynne Miller Feaveryear. Her heart is as big as her name, and our paths crossed before we knew it, as we have both experienced the sacredness of an empty womb amidst a full life.

We “met” through the exchange of manuscript samples – on the most holy of anniversaries. And upon meeting in real life, well, let’s just say there was a lot of laughter, a few tears, and I learned a lot about the prairie. Robynne is a Modern-Day Pioneer Mama who will teach you much more than just how to make your own laundry detergent, and still love ya even if you use Tide Pods like, ahem, someone.

So without further ado and in honor of the end of awareness week (but not of awareness), I introduce you to Robynne, mama to 31 littles, 26 of whom she never got to meet …

26.  Yes, that’s correct.  TwentySix

This huge, ridiculous, appalling number represents the babies I didn’t have.

Some people call them “miscarriages,” as if their precious little hearts never beat and their brains never sent miraculous waves of energy pulsing through their sweet, tiny bodies. But I can’t reduce them to “tissue” that was never meant to be.  They’re my children . . . even if I didn’t get the chance to raise them.

And I miss them all.  Deeply.

I’m not sure I’ll ever know the “why” behind such a large number of losses. I’m not sure I need to. 

Continue reading here …

Unplanned Unparenthood

Loss comes in all shapes and sizes.  Mine has come in the form of unexplained infertility.  Last year, I wrote this letter to a friend as I began a journey inward:  a journey into and through my loss. A journey of looking loss in the face and daring it to have something for me.   

This week, I’ll be sharing what I’m learning.  For all those that have faced a future different than what they’d planned, Thursday night will be an important conversation:  Join us for Unplanned Unparenthood and spread the word!  

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Dear Alli,

Your eyes stopped me in my tracks.  Your eyes hold ache.  An ache I know.  An ache I never ever wanted to know.  And my heart breaks in knowing you are now holding this pain too.  Your eyes woke me up to the almost sacred union of infertility.  We know what many women don’t know.  Won’t know.  Can’t know.  The sisterhood of the empty womb.  Not quite as sexy as traveling pants, but what are we gonna do?

We know what it’s like to spend our first few months trying, giggling with our husbands because, well, trying can be quite fun.

We know what it’s like when it stops being fun. When you have to bust out the thermometer, and the calendar, and seventh grade biology books.

We know what it’s like to experience a slow surprise when, month by month, you realize that everyone else’s normal may not be your normal.

We know what it’s like to hit the one-year mark and gasp.

We know what it’s like to literally ache from emptiness.

We know what numb feels like.

I hate knowing these things.  And I know you do, too.

You are on month 20.  I’m on month 50.  Yes, five-zero.  I probably represent your worst fear.  Between us is another thirty months of disappointment.  After just six months of trying, I was so scared that I’d still be sitting here years later.

And here I am.

Fears do come true.  Infertility makes you face that head on.

I hope your fears don’t come true.  I hope your story of infertility ends this month with a pregnancy test.  But if in thirty months you’re still waiting, I want you to know…

That thirty months later you won’t cry as often.

That thirty months later your life will be full, even if your womb still isn’t.

That thirty months later your marriage can be stronger, and more beautiful, than you’d ever imagined.

That maybe you’ll be asked to love an orphan.  That maybe your longing will teach you about theirs.  That maybe you’ll learn how to love by choice instead of by birth.

That maybe you won’t parent at all.  And you’ll learn to celebrate that path, too.

But I guess the reason I’m writing isn’t really to comfort you or scare you or even challenge you.  I’m writing you because I’m just learning how to talk about this.  I’m just learning that we need to talk about this.

Maybe there are things to gain through loss.

Maybe there are gifts and miracles and promises we haven’t understood or discovered before.

Maybe there’s a freedom we can’t even envision.

I’m ready to find out.  And by “ready”, I mean totally terrified.  But let’s go, step by step, and see what there is to see on this unplanned path.