October is many things.
It's my favorite month because of Halloween and our wedding anniversary, and because fall is (supposedly) actually here in October. It's supposed to be all crisp air and falling leaves and crunchy walks in the woods free of bugs. Except for some reason it's still in the 70s and even the 80s and so many trees are still green. Which is off-putting, but the nights still have that cool fall air so that's something.
It's an important month because it's Breast Cancer Awareness month. Two young women I know from various facets of life were recently diagnosed, and I know several survivors, and so it's important to spread awareness and help bring better prevention, treatments and a cure. It's a horrid disease that touches so many people.
October is also Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month. Yesterday was apparently the Day, and my facebook feed was full of links to articles and personal stories and pictures of candles lit or babies held that were born too soon. It is so important to normalize this experience, for lack of a better word. It shouldn't be normal. It should be rare, but it's not. It also touches so many people in so many ways, and the more it's talked about the more hopefully people will know what to say and how to be there for people going through that loss. A loss that doesn't just happen once, but reverberates through all the could-have-beens for years and years into the future.
I didn't post anything yesterday. Not here, not on social media.
I have not exactly been in a real happy shiny place lately, and I just didn't want to go down that rabbit hole again.
Because October. October is supposed to be a happy time, a time of celebrating our marriage -- which hits seven years this year. Unbelievable to me -- it's such a long time, and we've been so fortunate to have that time together and to look forward to so many more years.
But unfortunately, our anniversary is this double edged sword in many respects--because how long we've been married is also how long we've hoped to have a baby, to add to our family, and as the years tick off and go by we are reminded of how lucky we are to have such a great partnership, but also just how dismally unfortunate we've been in the family building arena.
On Halloween, which was a blustery Saturday in 2009, I answered the doorbell in my wedding dress and signed for a FedEx package that contained my first trigger shot, for my first IUI. These things are hopelessly intertwined. So we have to try real hard to have excellent experiences just the two of us to combat this feeling of happy-sad, of celebration of love but also reminders of loss.
I don't think if you had told me on that perfectly gloomy fall day seven years ago that we would STILL not have a child at this point, that I would have quite believed you. And yet, here we are, trying to make the best of our constant-limbo situation.
Since we have been living in the muck and the mire a bit lately, and trying to drag ourselves out of completely focusing on what we do not yet have and the fear that that may take so much longer to come to pass that we may exhaust ourselves, we have decided in the past two weeks that we are going to DO OCTOBER UP.
So last weekend we went hiking and got lost and went to a fun German restaurant for lunch and then got pizza for dinner so that we could watch the debates and have enjoyment SOMEWHERE. I had Columbus Day off and I ended up going for a walk in the woods by myself to try to clear the funk I felt about everything, but then had this weekend to look forward to.
Because we had an AMAZING day yesterday -- from hiking in three different spots (and hearing not one but TWO owls), to an impromptu dinner in the pub of one of our favorite fancy restaurants, to driving way the heck out to the Genesee Country Village & Museum for their Spirits of the Past tour (featuring reenactments of multiple Edgar Allen Poe tales, and walks through the full-moon lit village which couldn't have been any more atmospheric), to deciding to stop off at one of our favorite bars for a couple cocktails, getting home at about 1 am. Which is a freaking miracle, since we're over 40 and I feel like 11:30 is pretty much pumpkin time for me. It was romantic. It was adventurous.
And it would have been ruined if I had stopped to write about my own lost babylings, the losses that happened so long ago in the grand scheme of our quest. Our ectopic loss that was an exercise in trying to believe something true, in holding onto those rising HCG levels that were always too low for the time period to be a sign of anything normal, in hoping that the ultrasound would show something but instead finding myself in a surgical hell exacerbated by an asthma attack that messed with my incisions and a severe thunderstorm in the night where I was admitted. I could have reposted "A Really Bad Movie," which pretty much detailed what it was like to go from cautiously hopeful to devastatingly numb and wondering what the fuck just happened. But that happened so long ago, in August of 2011. Only slightly more recently, in August of 2012 (Augusts were rough for a while), I wrote about what it was like to miscarry our only uterine pregnancy. Again, it was early. But we had such beautiful hope. We had received such a joyful call from our RE that we were positive, and while retrospectively the HCG numbers weren't quite as robust as I wanted them to be, they were within normal ranges. And then I cramped and bled and went to bedrest and again tried so, so hard to believe my way into one of those bleeds that still ends with a baby. But it didn't. I have so many posts about that, but my favorite is "40 Weeks Ago", because it details every moment of that cycle, all the hope, until the hope was gone. But the more raw post about it was "Hello/Goodbye." Strangely, both those posts speak to hope. Hope that this could happen again. That we could still achieve what had been so cruelly taken from us two summers in a row.
But really, my absolute favorite post about my losses was the retrospective "What If This Is All I Get?" Even that one is hopeful, hopeful that our adoption wait will be shorter than longer (newsflash, it's not). It brings that raw moment of realizing that pregnancy will never be mine, but that pregnancy isn't the important part for the experience we wish to have.
If I had concentrated on putting these things together yesterday, there probably would have been tears at some point during our beautiful day out and about. I would have yet again have conflated our joyous celebration of a well-loved life together with the sadness of the moments where we realized that pregnancy was a dream never to be realized. That after those moments we'd have no Rainbow baby. That if we wanted to be parents, our best choice (and, in all honesty, our ONLY choice) is adoption -- where our joy comes at the expense of others' pain. Where we gain parenthood as someone else loses it, and we need to make sure that our child always feels free to talk about his or her own grief. That our parenthood, should we be so lucky, will have so many more layers to it than it would have had things worked out in 2011 or 2012.
It's important to remember those times, and to share those times so that someone else going through a similar thing can feel less alone, but it's also so important to preserve the time to feed our relationship. To have a beautiful day where I can let all that happened before go and celebrate us, our foundation. Because as we hope and hope that we will be parents, we need to be sure that we are solid just us two. Especially since there's that dark corner of the mind that reminds us that there's no guarantee that we will expand beyond that. We hope otherwise, but you have to be real, too. And if we spend too much time focused on what lay behind and what we hope could lie before us, we can forget where we are RIGHT NOW.
And where we are is in October. Celebrating all there is to celebrate in this beautiful month and trying not to let the sad dark places get us down too much. Looking forward to two more fabulously romantic weekends to fill with surprises and new memories to remind us that what we have, right now, is pretty damn special.