I just recently returned from a trip back home to see my family. It is always wonderful being back on the farm, surrounded by the familiar sights, smells and sounds of my childhood. The comfort of knowing that my parents are in the next room and that my family is safe, all gathered in the farmhouse we grew up in.
It was during this trip that I realized just how much infertility has changed the dynamics of every aspect of my life. Of course it has been difficult in the past to see my nieces and nephews that are the same age as my babies that I miscarried, but this trip...was different. It was difficult.
The first day was great. I excitedly played with my 6 younger nieces and nephews while Pace did "manly" stuff with my older nephews (in their 20's), my brother and my dad. I smothered my nieces and nephews in hugs and kisses letting each one of them know how much I missed them and how wonderful it was to see them again. That evening my sisters and I decided to take the 6 younger kids to the movies and that was the first time I had a pain in my heart as I saw my sisters each load up their 3 children in the car while all I carried was my purse. I quickly put that aside and just decided to "steal" one of my nieces and focus my attention on her. It worked - we enjoyed the movie and headed home.
The second day I wasn't around my nieces and nephews much, Pace and I went to town and then I went to the races with my brother, older nephews, dad and Pace that night. That is when the second pain in my heart occurred. I was the only girl to go to the races. Why??? Because I had no children to tend to. Sure, this could be seen as a good thing, I was free to go and do whatever I wanted because I had no children, but truth be told...if we had children, they would have come to the races with us. As I sat in the stands of the racetrack, I watched fathers with their sons bonding over the smell of racing fuel, dirt and speed. I desperately wanted to give that to Pace. For the first time of the trip...I cried and then blamed it on the dirt blowing in my eyes.
The third day was Sunday. Sunday has always been a family day at our house and this year was no different. We all got dressed and headed to the church we all grew up in. For those of you that don't know, I grew up in a VERY small community. Everyone knows each other and each others business. I know that everyone in the community knows about our infertility and miscarriages. I know this because my mom has us on every prayer chain known to Southwest Kansas. This was where the third pain in my heart hit...and it stayed for the remainder of the trip like a lump in my throat unable to be swallowed down.
We walked into church, into a community of friends and neighbors and as they all looked at my 6 nieces and nephews with joy and anticipation, I saw the look of pity in their eyes as they met mine. My heart sank, my anxiety skyrocketed and I just wanted to get as far away from it all as quickly as possible.
I don't even remember church itself, I was too focused on calming my breathing and not having a full blown anxiety attack right there in the middle of our tiny little church. But I remember the children. Not just my 6 nieces and nephews sitting next to me, but every child in the church, every pregnant woman in the church, every coo and cry during the entire mass. I felt like the brick walls of the church were coming in around me.
After church friends and neighbors gathered around my sisters asking them about all of their kids, what grade they were in, what their names were, how old they were now etc. I busied myself with watching after the young ones making sure they weren't crawling into the baptismal font or crawling all over the altar. Then...I just kind of snapped. I told Pace I was going outside and I just left. Everyone followed quickly after and we went back to the farm. I felt exhausted like every bit of emotional energy had been drained from my body.
It was then that I realized I had not had 10 minutes to visit with my sisters. I did not have 10 minutes of their time without kids interrupting or them talking about their kids or planning something for the kids to do or kids...kids...kids. It left me feeling incredibly sad. I had nothing to add to their children conversations. I felt like crawling under a rock as memories of my 3 positive pregnancy tests and my 3 horrific miscarriages following flooded my thoughts. I needed to get out of there. I could not be surrounded by children, bottles, diapers, pacifiers for one more minute or my head would surely explode.
Indeed, it did not explode. We came home on Monday and I survived. However, it has left me in a different place. It left me feeling very raw, extremely vulnerable and just exhausted. Then, to top it all off, yesterday was Pace's little sister's 6th birthday. Her party was at Peter.Piper.Pizza. We went, and for the most part I was able to plaster on a fake "this is wonderful what a great birthday party" smile until we were finally able to leave and I let the tears slowly roll down my face on the ride home. I couldn't speak to Pace, there was nothing to say that hadn't been said in the last six and a half years. There was nothing that could change our present situation and therefore nothing to speak of.
I am feeling extremely distanced from my family right now, extremely alone, abandoned by some of my friends and just utterly forgotten. And I turn 30 in 3 days.