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Being Gentle with One’s Self

Bare feet on grass. Hands massaging moist soil. Sun warming your skin. Cool fresh air filling your lungs. Do you feel connected to the earth?

Today, I do.

I had another terrible sleep last night, after weeks of terrible sleeps. I even moved myself to the guest room because I worried that my tossing and turning would wake DW. It turns out we both has bad sleeps last night.

I have a love-hate relationship with mornings. I love the sense of renewal, a new day, and that this day can be completely different from the last. However, I have never been a morning person. I have struggled to fall asleep most of my life. I remember being in kindergarten and staying up to watch the Johnny Carson show because I couldn’t sleep. Even back then, I had so many worries.

But today has been a little different. Still tired and slow moving, but way more connected.

Most mornings I make the same breakfast of scrambled eggs and some sautéed veggies or gluten-free bread. I have a cup of green tea. I take my supplements. I take my breakfast to the living room and sit in the big comfy chair, cross-legged, in front of the front bay window that looks out at our maple tree and the street. I eat my breakfast while getting caught up on the blogs that I follow, and the YouTube channels that I subscribe to. After breakfast, I get changed and take the dogs to the conservation lands for a easy hike. When I get home, I make myself something to eat, and either do some housework or run some errands in the city. If I have time, I go to the gym and try to burn off some of my anxiety. I try to get all of this done before DW gets home so that the rest of the day is for me to spend with her. Our activities are varied, depending on what work she has to do to prepare for the next work day, and also what our dinner situation is. Most nights we eat dinner at home, and try to prepare it together. After dinner we watch a show or two, and then head to bed. In bed is when I think about all of the awful TTC stuff, and overanalyze my “infertility”. This has created a nasty cycle for me, where I am not sleeping properly, and go about my days on auto-pilot. This task-driven routine is comforting, because it’s been all about survival while waiting to TTC again, but what I’m noticing is that I have not built in time to deal with shit, which is why my bedtimes have become so stressful.

So far, I’ve been trying to deal with stress through physical activity, and blogging. Unfortunately, I’m finding that most of my blogging is happening when I’m sweating away on a piece of cardio equipment, desperately trying to distract myself. This means that I’m only giving myself 30 minutes every other day to process our losses, and even then, I’m not doing it well.

Things have been so rough for me emotionally lately. I crave social interaction, but it is so limited because everyone works during the day, and any other time, I want to spend with DW who is so busy all of the time. She is taking the last part of her Principals Qualification course, and is at school until 10pm at least once a week, sometimes two, until Christmas. Some of my friends don’t know we’ve been TTC, and I would have to get them caught up on it. The rest of my friends have moved out of the Toronto area because it’s so damn expensive around here. But I have you, blogger friends don’t I? And let me tell you, you have all been such a huge support to me, but- don’t take this the wrong way- you are not enough.

Today was my first session with a counsellor/therapist. I drove a good 40 kms to her home, which is where she practices out of. It is a beautiful log house set far back from country roads, with big windows and very high ceilings. I was in awe of her home, and took some pictures to show DW, as it is exactly what my dream house looks like. The decor was mostly preserved wood pieces and beautiful antique door knobs/handles. I closed my eyes while sitting in her waiting room, and felt the sun coming through the windows, warming my skin. I took a deep breath and caught the faint scent of lavender in the air. Waiting for my appointment was very relaxing.

I felt only a little uncomfortable at my first meeting with her. She pauses a long time, which I’m sure is a technique to give me room to speak. I’m not used to taking up so much “speaking realty”. I’m usually more comfortable listening to other people. I’m sure that she caught on to this, as the exchange ended up being 60/40, with me sharing a little more than her.

I was worried that we would not be a good fit, as she is a family and marriage counsellor, and I’m not really seeking marriage counselling. I wasn’t sure what her exposure to the LGBTQ community was, or if she had any experience with fertility or pregnancy loss.

I was caught a bit off guard by the first thing she said to me after welcoming me into her home. She told me that I “didn’t look like a Dorothea”, which I thought was kind of a weird thing to say to someone you had just met.

The second thing she asked was what I was hoping to get out of the counselling sessions with her, and I told her about the pregnancy losses, as well as my unbelievable stresses at work. She then asked me how I came to find her through my friends who were clients of hers- how exactly did they decide that we would be a good fit? My friends, who are also a lesbian couple, see her monthly, and recommended her because she “tells it as it is”, and is a “very good therapist”. I asked why she seemed so concerned about our “fit”, and whether she didn’t feel comfortable counselling me because I wasn’t there for marriage counselling. And that is when it all changed.

She was asking because she too, had struggled to get pregnant. Ten years of losses and her doctors told her that she was never going to become a biological mother. Then at the age of 45, she started seeing a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctor, worked through some of her emotional and psychological issues, and found out that she was unexpectedly pregnant during a hurricane on the east coast. She was very familiar with pregnancy loss and the devastating effects of it- physically, emotionally, and psychologically. When I described my work conditions, she shook her head and said, “that is an impossible situation. They have set you up to fail”, which is exactly what DW has said about my timetable. My therapist, it seems, used to be a teacher as well. We, in fact, were a perfect match.

A lot of amazing things came out of our first session. As soon as I left her place, I wanted to blog about it because I was so scared that these revelations would fade, and they are so valuable to me:

Our babies choose us.

So far, perhaps because of the nature of IVF, I’ve been approaching it like we choose our baby. For example, we chose to use my eggs because they are six years younger, we chose the sperm donor based on certain criteria that were important to us. Instead, we need to project our unconditional love out into the world, where our baby will know that whoever he or she is, we will love them.

We need to memorialize and set our angel embabies free in a meaningful ceremony to make room for the baby that wants to be here. We need to invite him/her in.

We have not yet said goodbye to our angel babies. I seem to be holding onto them so tight, which may be contributing to my anxiety because I’m dwelling on the past. I need to let them go before we can welcome the new embaby in. I was thinking that DW and I should make a bird feeder out of 6 pieces of wood, to symbolize each of our angel babies. Their memory will feed and nourish the birds we draw so much joy from watching, and all of the babies that they and their babies will have in the future.

Each loss had a greater purpose or lesson.
I hope that I learn what they are, so that I can be at peace with this aspect of our losses.

We need to let go of our expectations because they make our baby feel unwelcome.
We had a name picked out, if our first pregnancy was a girl. It was a feminized version of my grandfather’s name, and he was the person that I felt closest to in my family. He passed away in 2010, and I still haven’t fully gotten over it, as him and my grandmother are the only two people in this world that I felt truly loved me. For each subsequent pregnancy, we carried this name with us, as well as the idea that maybe the embryo was a girl. It’s not that I wouldn’t be happy with a boy (I’d be happy with a baby, period), but when we would talk to our bellies, we always imagined this spirit baby in there, and she is a girl with the feminized version of my grandpa’s name. I know this sounds absurd, but we need to let go of it, and just be open to the baby being whoever he/she is. His/her name and all of those other insignificant details will come after.

Spirit baby you are so wanted and loved, whoever you are. Mama et Maman can’t wait for you to come home. Please come home.

10 thoughts on “Being Gentle with One’s Self

  1. It sounds like you had a pretty good healing day! Thank you for sharing. I’ve been eyeing the hotline # for free, confidential counselling services through my work lately. I think you may have encouraged me to pick up the phone. This is heavy stress we carry, even when we think we may be handling it ok. Sleep well. Xx

    • Yes, it really is stressful. And because TTC is so private in nature, we often don’t get the emotional support that we need. We are conditioned to just carry on with our daily lives pretending everything is okay. Today’s session showed me that I am not okay. Maybe that is what our angel babies want me to learn- that I need to take better care of myself. I hope you get some support too. It will make for a more balanced and happier life (and wife!).

  2. Let’s reschedule our lunch for some time soon. Work has really slowed down for me as of yesterday, so I’m free for lunch any time.

    I like the term “speaking realty”. I don’t generally take up too much of it, either. You’d never know it from my blog, I guess.

    Also? WHAT does a Dorothea look like? Such a strange thing to say.

  3. Love this post, particularly the end where you list out the revelation from your session. Your bird feeder idea is perfect. If you do build it, please do post photos. I can already see little birds on it. As far as expectations of a baby, I need to work on this. I make jokes about our future doctor or banker but shouldn’t. Words have energy. Thanks again for sharing your session.

  4. Sounds like you had a great session, and that you left there with an open mind and an open heart to accept this spirit baby as he/she is. Interesting about the bird feeder, and just remembering that little bird at the cabin that made its way over to you guys…you’ve been having more and more of these serendipitous moments…who knows…i love this post…full of hope and love…and I’m so glad that you didn’t have to “shop around” for a therapist..this one truly sounds like she was placed in your life for a really wonderful reason…thinking of you guys…

    • I agree. I feel like things are becoming clearer for me. There seem to be clues everywhere, and I guess I just need to be receptive to them. Maybe this is all part of healing?

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