When we were in the throws of trying desperately to get pregnant and facing our infertility, the lack of control, the heartache, the desperation I felt seemed to remind me constantly on a deep emotional level of a time when I was younger, more helpless and felt similarly out of control and stuck and desperate for something to change. It was as if the pain created a bridge in time between the two and I was constantly traveling back and forth between them. I ended up feeling lost and traumatized in the present by memories and emotions I had long ago left behind. I felt haunted. It was difficult to distinguish where my feelings were coming from - was I suicidally depressed just because our final IUI didn't work, or was it also tapping into pain I felt when I was so much smaller?
Anyone who has dealt with or is dealing with trauma can probably identify with this. It is not that uncommon.
So now, I am pregnant. When we first found out we were pregnant I wondered if this trauma response in me would rear its ugly head again, I wondered if I would truly be able to cherish and enjoy this pregnancy the way I longed to. Thankfully, for the most part, I have been able to. I had some depression early on, and more recently have dealt with anxiety - but thank G.od it has been nothing like what I feared. In fact, I am already grieving how fast it is passing me by because I want more time to really soak in the miracle and wonder that having this little one inside of me truly is.
But it has not been easy.
Being pregnant touches on my control issues in a whole different way than infertility did. With infertility I felt stuck. I felt as if all the effort in the world might not move me from the spot I had found myself in. I remember one day, meditating on a large boulder in the middle of a fast moving stream, thinking how I felt like that boulder, stuck in the middle of life with everything around me moving past me, leaving me behind - and I wept. In that meditation though, I also received a sense of peacefulness, if just for a moment, about being still like that - about letting the events in my life shape me, about being powerless but strong. I learned a lot during those weeks, months, years - the experience was not wasted on me.
Powerlessness in pregnancy has a whole different feel to it. I no longer feel stuck. If anything I feel as though I am being swept up in a fast moving current. I am moving, life is moving. But it is happening so fast, and it feels still so far beyond my power to control very much about it. I can swim, I can float, I can laugh or scream or cry - but in it all I will still be moving swiftly through these currents. At times this has been a peaceful thought for me. Something I could surrender to. The thought that maybe it wasn't all up to me, the idea that there is something or Someone bigger at work here, a force of life much stronger than me. I have been comforted by the thought that the growth of this baby, the course of this pregnancy, the life that has formed and is developing - none of it depends upon me fully. There is no way to "do it perfectly" or "get it right". I simply have to let go, surrender, trust.
Ah....but there's the rub! Surrender, trust.....let go.... Sounds an awful lot like the advice given to me when we were struggling so hard to become parents. And that's where this comes full circle.
Lately, I find myself thinking a lot. a lot. about our journey with infertility. I find myself grieving for the parts of myself I left behind in that battle, for the ways I was stripped bare and wounded. I find myself reminded of that pain, that longing, all the choices we had to make that we never thought we'd make. The great cost of the journey and those choices on our lives, our hearts, our relationships. I am reminded of how alone I felt - how completely alone. I was not alone, but it was such a lonely and deeply personal process, one that not even my partner, who was in it with me and experiencing his own loss and frustration, could ever truly enter into fully with me, as much as he tried (and vice versa).
The good side of being reminded of all of this is that it does make every little kick, every stirring in my womb feel that much more of a miracle. I cannot stop saying "Thank you" for this new little boy growing inside of me.
The down side is - well, it's hard. I am not one of those women who continually identifies herself as someone who became "pregnant after infertility". And as selfish as it sounds, as soon as I became pregnant I felt a strong urge to leave the world of infertility behind me once and for all. I was sick of living there. I know the p.c. thing, the other-centered thing, the human thing, would have been to want to stay in it for the sake of others, to be there for them - to share my story, my hope, my resources, my support. And for a few women, I have. But for the most part, I just wanted to come up for air. I wanted to be free, I wanted to feel "normal" again. But of course there is no feeling totally "normal" when you finally become pregnant after years of trying, after failed treatments, after IVF. At least for me there wasn't. I still worry constantly that my body won't know what to do, that I am "broken" or "deficient" in some way. I worry this little boy will be taken from me. I am overly aware of the fragility of life, of our bodies, of what is at stake here. And I probably always will be, in some way.
It is, in many ways, very much like the bridge in time that was formed during my journey with infertility. Instead, now the lack of control, the fear, the being swept away by it all - it draws me back to my experiences just a year ago, or two years ago. In a way I feel a bit haunted again.
And yet, just as with infertility, and the memories it brought up for me - I feel some sense of purpose in this haunting, this remembering. I know I cannot run from it. I cannot pretend I got here any other way. So when I need to grieve it, I grieve. When I need to just stop and remember, I try to stop and let myself remember. Remember, that a year ago I was bordering on suicidal. Remember, that a year ago I was losing hope that I would ever ever be where I am at today. Remember, that while I am so incredibly blessed and fortunate to be here - it took a lot out of me to make it this far, and I am still healing - still picking up the pieces, still finding myself in the rubble of it all.
Sometimes this is more difficult because the current I am being swept up in is moving so very fast, and constantly, constantly, it feels there are more things thrown into that current with me - more changes, more of life just being washed away, or transported to something completely new. It is like whitewater rafting without a raft.
I was determined when I was that rock in the middle of the gushing waters - I was determined to learn from it, to heal, to find my strength, to practice being still and letting go. And now as I face a very different place of powerlessness I know I will need that same determination to learn to let go, to swim when I need to, and to let the waters carry me when I don't.