Follow me on the crazy, hopeful, discouraging, funny, and ultimately successful (one way or another) path to parenthood while facing infertility.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

How I Ripped Off the School Band-aid

I am pretty proud of myself for how I managed the email that I sent out to my school, informing the masses of the end of our quest for parenthood.

First, I sent it the day before the last day of school for teachers, mere minutes before we all went out to wave goodbye to the students leaving on buses and in cars. Heh heh heh, sneaky timing, as a lot of people leave right after that. This way, there'd be enough time to not drop a bomb and disappear in a poof of smoke, but not enough time that I'd have to deal with fallout for days. Just one day. Sneaky sneaky.

I decided to finally send my email after I found out that a few people had asked friends of mine this sort of thing: "Is it true that Jess isn't adopting anymore?" and so I thought, well, these are the ballsy people (but not ballsy enough to ask me directly, although one person did do that in the hall about two weeks ago)...how many people might be wondering and at what point am I comfortable being shady corner-of-the-stairwell gossip? Really, at no point am I good with being gossip fodder. Best that it comes from me, no matter what it is.

So, I sent it. And it looked like this, with the heading "Thank You [Name of My Middle School] Family:"

Hi [Name of my Middle School],

It has meant so much to me and to Bryce to have such an outpouring of support from everyone as we fought for nearly 8 years to have a family. We have been amazed by the love, empathy, and hugs we have received. 

This has been an incredibly difficult year, and as some of you may already know, after a great deal of thought and consideration we have ended our journey to expand our family. We never expected that our journey would end without a child. As we grieve this loss, we know that it is the right decision for us -- to let go of the life we envisioned and fought so hard for at great personal cost so that we can live the life we have built together despite all this adversity. 

I read a beautiful book about surviving loss, The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy, and in it she says, "Everyone doesn't get everything." We have so, so much, and while this is a terrible loss, we can celebrate everything we do have in each other. 

I am so lucky to teach here at [Name of my Middle School], to be a part of this family that takes care of each other we're down. I appreciate your love and support now as we move onward to this new, unexpected life adventure as a family of two. 

Thank you and much love, 
Jess and Bryce

PS - We thank everyone contributed to our nursery, which was such a special, beautiful place of hope while it lasted. We donated everything to an organization that helps women who don't have support for unintended pregnancies -- our loss will be someone else's blessing and help another new family get a head start.

Not bad, eh? I don't think I overshared (there is that ominous "great personal cost," and I still felt the need to slap a number of years onto our suffering, but whatever), and I think I made it pretty clear that this was a firm decision  and we were looking for support, not talking out of/fixing.

It went pretty well, all things considered. I had one person hug me and whisper in my ear "International Adoption is always an option..." (she adopted internationally a decade and a half ago), and I managed to accept her hug and say, "We researched that option, thank you" and leave it at that. People always think that their way is the best way. This time I didn't have anyone tell me "oh but you'd make such a great mother!" (ouch, because I'm not ever going to get to be one) and no one suggested that we try foster care adoption, either (again, researched that one). I had someone tell me how much she appreciated that I let everyone in on this journey, how eye opening it was and how privileged she felt to be a part of it. I had a coworker who is also the parent of one of my students cry and tell me that "It's not the same, I know it's not the same, but you are a mother to every one of those kids that comes through your room. This is what you're meant to do, and you have so much love for these kids -- including mine." I usually hate the "your students are your kids though!" band-aid slapped on teacher infertility, but in this case I didn't mind at all because she acknowledged that it wasn't the same but that it is a way to mother. And I'd been thinking earlier this year about how I could direct my mothering energy just towards my students (which, honestly, I already do, poor things). I got hugs, and sweet emails, and a couple "You are so strong"s, which I didn't deflect because I should own that. Yeah, I'm strong. Thank you. 

There. That band-aid is ripped off and it wasn't too terribly painful. Now it's done and I don't have to talk about it at school if I don't want to anymore. Hopefully people respect that. 

Now for the facebook band-aid...that one is more daunting. I think I may actually include some of the things that aren't helpful since there are some people who are real good at assvice (OMG, thank you Loribeth, x2, for this word and for introducing me to Ariel Levy's book, among other things). I know it all comes from a pretty benign place but jeezum people can really stick a lemon wedge in my oozy wounds with careless or well-meaning but hurtful words.

Thank you for all the advice, real advice not assvice (I swear I'm going to use that as much as humanly possible). Your support helps me make sense of things that are hard to make sense of, and helps me to not be so much of my own worst enemy. Repeat after me, Me: I Will Not TEll Everyone I Had A Bit Of A Mental Breakdown. I Will Not Make Excuses or Justify. I Will Just Say We Are No Longer Pursuing Adoption And Please Support Us In Our New Adventure As A Twosome. 

I can do it, right? Probably not today. But tomorrow. Tomorrow I will rip off the final band-aid.

23 comments:

  1. So well done! I like how you own your strength.

    I, too, am a fan of the word "assvice."

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    1. Thank you so much! And yeah. Best word, ever!

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  2. That's a beautiful message. I'm sure there were a few teary eyes reading it. You honoured your experience, though it didn't turn out the way you wanted. And you allowed people to support you and grieve with you. I hope that draws you even closer to a school community that is obviously very important to you.

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    1. Thank you! They are amazing. I was truly humbled by their responses.

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  3. Jess, this is perfect. Seriously. It's all there, including laying out what you need. Bravo lady.

    And how you handled the "there's always international adoption" comment was perfect too. Your researched it. Enough said.

    Seriously lady, bravo. And I fully support you doing the same type of post for FB. Armoring for the assvice (because it's always there, sadly enough), of course, but you did an awesome job.

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    1. Thank you so much! I was definitely way more explicit on FB... heh heh heh. I am getting better at this no justification thing. :) In all this bandaid ripping I have told only those close to me about all that transpired in March, April, and May. :)

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  4. That was well managed- hard, but well done. I haven't been reading infertility blogs for the past few months, so I missed your decision process- I am sorry that it didn't work- it is really really hard to make that call, to accept that that decision is the best way to go. Hugs, and hopes that it gets easier.

    (For some reason my iPad doesn't want to acknowledge my other identity- persnickety chickadee. Good thing I didn't need to keep my identity secret

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    1. Thanks so much -- definitely hard. This period of bandaid ripping is strangely (not so strangely) exhausting. I am looking forward to when it's all done! :) SO HARD to make that call, but I have been so fortunate to have (for the most part) really compassionate responses. Of course I haven't really made it easy to try to talk us out of it, or give alternatives, ha. Thanks for revealing your not-so-secret identity! :)

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  5. Bravura. Well considered and considerate missive. Great job.

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    1. Thank you so much! It took a lot of time to get it to where I was comfortable sending it, and I ran by a friend first and sat on it overnight, but I am glad it was "successful." Thank you for the kudos!

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  6. Your message was really well written. Just the right mix of explanation, acknowledging the huge loss that it is but also some positivity towards your new future. I'm sure you have had more of an influence on your students than you even realise by the way :)

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    1. Thank you so much. I hope so, but it's a funny thing being a special education teacher... it can take a while for students to appreciate you. It's an amazing thing to get an email a year or two later thanking you for your patience, or all the time spent helping someone succeed... and real special when you have kids who tell you right then and there "I appreciate you." :)

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  7. Hi Jess! I've been absent (I'm sorry about that) and you've been busy!! You have done remarkable personal work in the several weeks and that has to have been so very hard. I do hope you take some of this summer to just sit still and just be for a bit. Let your soul heal.
    I cannot even imagine making this kind of public announcement, maybe not so much the work one as the Facebook one. I think I would choose to let the grapevine do its thing in this case. But that's just me.
    Sending lots of love your way, and can't wait to follow along at what comes next, because I just know it will be fabulous!

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    1. Thank you so much, Charlotte! Yes, I am trying to do so very little this summer. Of course I'm not doing so well at laziness, but it's projects of my own devising so I don't mind! (Weeding. SO MUCH weeding.) For me, I was hoping the grapevine would do its work, but then it started doing its thing and people were talking but not to me, so I was like FUCKIT. I'm going to just tell everyone myself, in my way, and if they found out otherwise at least they'll get the official version from me. To me it's empowering! But hard. It's so hard. The facebook one is done too, now it's a slow trickle and the hard work of replying to everyone's well wishes (which is on me). Thank you so much for your thoughts and love!

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  8. Haha, I can't claim credit for "assvice" -- I'm not sure who originated the term, but it's a great one, isn't it?? I think the wording & the timing of your email was perfect, as was your respoonse to that (well-intended, I'm sure...) suggestion about adoption (!). Good luck with the Facebook bandaid. That will probably be the biggie. :p

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    1. I'm crediting you anyway because you introduced it to me! :) Thank you so much. Yeah, facebook was the biggie. It's done, and I was way more explicit as to what's helpful and what's not. :) Heh heh heh to the timing. And jeezum, yeah, so crazy to be like, "it's always an option to go down a totally different path of homestudy and waiting and adoption where you fly elsewhere, possibly for weeks on end! Totally a reasonable option after your journey!" Sigh.

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  9. Wow. What a great letter to your middle school family. And just like that, because of you, so many people got the crucial education that not everyone who tries to conceive or who pursues adoption gets to become a parent. Thank you on behalf of all of us. <3

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    1. Thank you -- I worked hard at it! :) YES. I actually had someone tell me how much she appreciated being let in to our journey through my openness, and I was like, "Well, it's important to me that people know the realities of infertility, of pursuing different options, and that not every IVF ends in a pregnancy and birth, and not every adoption journey ends with a baby." I feel like they sort of get the Lifetime/People Magazine version that is either super sanitized or super dramatized, not reality. I am so glad to have found you, I so appreciate voices of those going down similar paths.

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  10. That is a really well done announcement and it sounds like you got the timing down perfectly. Good luck with the FB one when you are ready. Your idea to include a list of things that are not helpful sounds like a very good one. Hopefully that will cut down on the amount of assvice and people will be kind and supportive instead.

    (And like everyone else, I agree that "assvice" is a marvelous word).

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    1. Thank you! I feel a little sneaky, but better than right on the last day, right? FB is done. I did it Wednesday. Figured why drag it out, get all the emotional exhaustion done now. And yup, super explicit on helpful/not helpful... :) I love "assvice." New favorite for us all, I think!

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  11. Jess I think that you did a fantastic job. UGGHHHHHHH to the International Adoption person. SERIOUSLY?!?!?!? But you handled it beautifully. Great work lady.

    Good luck with the FB post. I do think that you are going to have to put advice in there about what you DON'T want to hear.

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    1. Thank you so much! Yeah, bigtime Uggghhhh. I know it's meant to be helpful, but um, no. Seriously. And I did the FB post this week... I went with "what good options are to say" rather than a litany of what sucks, because there's just SO MANY OPTIONS. :) Went great, very little assvice! :)

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  12. I second all the comments you've received. Such a lovely letter. Like one of your colleagues, I too feel privileged to have been allowed to observe and (remotely) share in your journey.

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