Saturday, September 29, 2007
So as he's telling me all this, I decide to not defend my sister for a change. I do that a lot it seems. I listen and realize he's offended and hurt by her attitude, especially since she's sitting in his house. I let him know that the original plan of having her and her family move in with us for a while after they sell their home may not be such a hot idea. He tells me that he's willing to wait and see what happens.
My husband has very high expectations for people who call themselves family. He has seen what I have gone through these past 4 years, dealing with my mum, the tears, despair and frustration as I've sorted through her life and try to put it in order. We've gotten all the late night, early morning teary phone calls, we go to the care conferences, the doctor appointments, we put our life on a schedule to accommodate her, and through all of it, we tried to get pregnant. It's been hard on me, on both of us, and what he wants to see is her extending herself to me with care and compassion. And he doesn't see it. He sees self-centredness. This makes him very, very angry.
My sister's life hasn't been easy either, I know she feels guilt about not being here, she's busy working and caring for her only son, who spent the first few years with frequent illnesses, her husband's frequent unemployment and inability to assist her in family organizational matters. She doesn't eat very much and she's often tired. I also understand our family's karma. We don't demonstrate a great deal of affection with one another, we hold things in, act strong and cope as best we can. We don't confront.
It was hard to get a lot of chanting done this week, but I did get it a little in. And when the daimoku (chanting nam myo ho renge kyo) ran out, I resorted to white wine. Yep, you can pick your nose but you can't pick your family. Meh.
Monday, September 24, 2007
I actually breathed a sigh of relief.... and disappointment. Mmmm. The baby boy was due in December. I really would like a girl, but at this point, beggars can't be choosy. Oh, and yeah, I don't have quite enough money yet.
Speaking of boys, my sister and her family is here visiting with us for a week. Her son is an exuberant 4 year old. He gets up real early. Her main reason for visiting is our mum, of course. She wants to spend some time with her. Which is good. I've shouldered all of the responsibility of caring for her since she had her stroke and her dementia and I rarely get any time off so to speak. And it's nice to spend time with my little nephew. Yep, raising a kid is tough work, but boy when you they wrap their arms around you, it's heaven.
So I'm savoring my time lazing in my bed with a cup of coffee reading the newspaper.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
I was asked to give my experience of Caledon at our culture centre for our chapter. At first, I kept thinking of a way I culd share my experience without mentioning my infertility, and I could have. But experiences should be deeply personal and I could not share without sharing the whole truth.
Some of my Buddhist buddies know what I have gone through, but it's not public knowledge. Honestly, I had always felt ashamed at my inability to conceive and give birth to a child. I was waiting for years to tell my story but I wanted a happy ending. I wanted to be able to pat my tummy or bring in my baby in front of the community as a testament to faith and perserverance. I imagined the whole thing, I would hold my child up with tears in my eyes. There wouldn't be dry eye in the whole place. I would feel so victorious and happy. Snap back to reality - and I was feeling hopeless, resigned, and pretty fucking miserable. I wasn't suicidal or anything, but as my husband once told me, I wasn't "fun" anymore.
So I basically shared what was in my previous post. There wasn't a lot of people, thank goodness, no line of women rushing me telling me their infertility story, but I still touched people's hearts. That always makes me feel good. I want to create value even in my misfortunes. But I did see one woman smiling and nodding her head and I happen to know she's infertile and knows exactly what it's like.
You know, I actually feel hopeful today.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
It all took place at Caledon, it's like a Buddhist retreat, but it's also available for the public when it's not being used by SGI members. The 4 days are filled with chanting, lectures about Buddhist writings, planetary citizenship, experiences, entertainment, great food and of course endless chatting with women from all over Canada. I organized a forum theatre presentation based on the SGI-USA youth Victory over Violence program.
All the women had to carve time from their busy lives and families to attend this year's conference. Even though I, like the other Western region members, suffered from jet lag, I still stayed up late talking with my roommate, sharing my troubles and exchanging encouragement.
I heard an experience from a petite, musically gifted woman who overcame uterine fibroid cancer. I can't tell her whole experience but she told us how full of gratitude she was for her fellow members who chanted nonstop for her recovery. Another woman related how fellow members who through deep compassion for her, she decided that she owed it to them to fight for her own life. One woman shared shared how her chronic illness lead to to contribute to a new protocol for a metropolitan hospital patient program. Late night conversations continued into the night over cookies and coffee or in the dorm rooms in our pajamas.
I told my roommate, whom I had known while I was in the Young Women's Group a few years ago, my tale of infertility woe. She, like many of other young women I had shared so many good times, had gone on to marriage and children. The last time I had spent any time with her I had brought her first son a stuffed toy. She was so kind to me, so caring.
Senior leaders gave guidance to those who wanted it in private rooms. Now these leaders are women who have practiced for many, many years and they never tell you what to do. It's primarily guidance, inspiration and encouragement based on the writings of our mentor, Pres. Ikeda or the gosho (writings/letters from Nichiren Daishonin). What was my guidance?
I was encouraged to realize that my mission just may be to comfort those who have suffered through what I have. To find value in this mission. I can still be a mother, it just may not be in the way I expected. I may have had lots of children in another lifetime (who cares, what about this lifetime). I was encouraged to change my attitude to one of appreciation about what I do have. There was more, but basically, that was the message.
Definition of a Bodhisattva
After the rise of Mahayana, bodhisattva came to mean anyone who aspires to enlightenment and carries out altruistic practice. Mahayana practitioners used it to refer to themselves, thus expressing the conviction that they would one day attain Buddhahood. In contrast with the Hinayana ideal embodied by the voice-hearers and cause-awakened ones who direct their efforts solely toward personal salvation, Mahayana sets forth the ideal of the bodhisattva who seeks enlightenment both for self and others, even postponing one's entry into nirvana in order to lead others to that goal. The predominant characteristic of a bodhisattva is therefore compassion.
So that makes me a Bodhisattva of Infertility? Well, if that's the case,there are many bodhisattvas of infertility out there. (I'm thinking of Pamela Jeanne in particular.) In attempting to discover our own enlightenment and share it with others, we are bodhisattvas of the earth.
I also received guidance through another friend. She told me that I seem to be always
talking about walls, how every way I seem to be blocked in my life, how much I analyzed and agonized about what to do and how I should do it. My roommate chimed in she remembered something that Pres. Ikeda once wrote. If the path before me is blocked, then fly. Tears flooded my eyes. I've been so scared of not being able to control things that cannot be controlled. What if we can't get the money? What if we invite more heartache and disaster into our lives by adopting? And now I could understand that all that worrying, fretting, trying to intellectualize my way out of my hell just resulted in depression and helplessness.
If the path before me is blocked, then fly. I know what this means for me. What does it mean to you?
Monday, September 10, 2007
Fast forward to the recent past when I was determined to become a mother in the usual fashion. And after the unfortunate outcome, I was once again face to face with the "who am I now?" question. So much time, so much sacrifice, so much expense (financial and emotional) had gone into the effort. My ultimate creative moment was a non-event. For years, I'd assumed I'd get married and have kids by the time I was 30 and be a series regular TV star. When I hit 30, I figured I just had to postpone things for a little longer. I had just started to figure out the kind of woman I wanted to be. And then I thought I'd never meet Mr. Right and almost settled for Mr. Wrong. And when I did meet Mr. Right, I really had to figure out how to make myself happy no matter what. I grew up a lot.
This whole infertility bag has taught me a lot about my ego. I've been thoroughly humbled. I doubted my faith, I doubted my ability to ever feel peace of mind again and I still struggle with how to reconcile my sense of femininity with the body I've been given in this life. This body that could carry my through a 10K race could not carry me through a pregnancy. Not that I'm an athlete in any sense of the world, but I've always been healthy and strong. I thought by doing all the right things and believing with all my heart, that giving birth to our child would only be a matter of time and persistence. I've always been the one that people come to nurturing and care. You know, the "mother" of the group. I confess I don't feel very feminine these days.
You know there's one thing that a Buddhist knows for sure - life isn't fair. It's how you react to life's challenges that counts. So aside from the emotional eating, a fibroidy uterus, and unemployment, I'm not doing too badly.
I'm off to a Buddhist conference in a few days, and I hope to come back spiritually refreshed and ready to deal with more paperwork and social workers.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Strangely enough later, my sister called me from Georgia and told me she heard from a family friend that our father wanted to see her and her son. She didn't want to see him at all. That's a long story. Suffice to say we both have issues with our father. He wasn't a monster, he just wasn't a good dad and continues to be an ass. I told her to think of her son first, it wasn't about how she felt about dad. I asked her if her little boy would enjoy seeing his grandfather. That our dad wouldn't be around forever. Mmmm. Think there's a lesson in there for me. Betcha I'll be in her shoes soon enough.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Anyways, then I went to see the doctor to see what he had to say about my situation. He first asked if I had considered a hysterectomy. Why is it that doctors throw the word around like it's a panacea for a woman's troubles? I asked if he would like his balls removed. He laughed, but I hope he got my point. If I have a choice about whether to have major surgery that increases my chance of having an emergency hysterectomy or a non invasive procedure which has fewer risks, I'll take the latter, thank you very much. He did caution me that though I was a good candidate for the procedure, my bladder problems might not lessen. Women "my age" have those problems. Really. Hey, pass me the Depends please. My least favourite phrase, "a woman your age" was used as well. The next time I hear that phrase from a medical professional, I vow stop them mid sentence and warn them that it makes me hostile and prone to violence.
So I told him to put my name on the waiting list. Yes, that's right. Waiting list. Welcome to BC. Could be waiting 4 months. Then I went for another pee. I betcha the surgery list is shorter. Mmmm. We'll see. And another pee.
Monday, September 3, 2007
We've decided to really talk about what we're going to say and not to say when we have our next visit. The social worker will be conducting separate interviews and we want to be on the same page. Which is a great way for us to begin open communication about this whole process. I want her to get to know us as the good people that we are. But I'm also a pretty open and forthright person. I just don't want to say anything that might be used against me later.
"So, do you drink alcohol? If so, how often?" "Well, I got wasted on my birthday a couple of months ago. I had 7 lemon drop martinis, and boy was I wasted!" Maybe I'll skip that story.
I have to guard against that constant wanting to prevent myself from further pain. I want to transform my narrowminded perspective. I went to my Buddhist dicussion meeting last week and I felt really encouraged. We were talking about obstacles and "devilish functions" and what they really mean in our lives. When I say devilish functions, I'm not talking about some evil force with a tail and brimstone cologne. I'm talking about fear and doubt. That's what gets in the way of faith and the belief in yourself to overcome all obstacles. And having had my ass kicked around by infertility, I know my faith has been battered around as well. All the crap we went through left us feeling quite defeated and now we are jumping through another set of hoops again.
Buddhism is about winning or losing in your life. And I thought when we didn't get pregnant and give birth to the child I had yearned for, I had lost. I certainly felt like a part of me died along with that dream. But maybe my battle is not over. Years ago, I read this guidance from Daisaku Ikeda. I'd like to change the feeling that all this paperwork, all the interviews, etc. are not obstacles, but opportunities for me to become a better person, a stronger person than I am right now.
You Are the Hope of the World!
Buddhism teaches that the lotus flower grows in muddy water. What this means is that our supremely noble lives continue to shine even amid the harshest of life's realities, just like the pure white lotus flower that blooms unsoiled by the mud.
Having gone through what you have, there is pain and suffering in others' hearts that only you can notice. Having suffered what you have, there is true love and
affection that only you can find. There are definitely people out there who need you. If you give up on yourself, it is only you who will lose.
Nothing, no matter what happens, can change your inherent
worth. Please have courage. Please tell yourself that you are not
going to let this ordeal defeat you.