I'm from the Big Isle. But I lived in the dorms up at Kamehameha Schools from 7th grade on. The dorms have you on pretty rigid schedules and restrictions. Friday nights bring a small iota of freedom as you're allowed to roam free albeit on campus from 3 to 10 pm. The campus which sprawls across the mountainside (look up next time you're on the H1 near the Likelike Hwy) was our playground. Our dorm was surrounded by four boys dorms and the laughter of boys and girls playing volleyball outside scented the air.
And, with all that freedom, somehow one particular Friday night found me and my two besties, Nalani P. and Kelii K, holed up in my room entertaining ourselves. We were getting the biggest kick out of writing sprawling words on our legs with Elmers glue. We would let it dry and then peel them off our legs in long pieces. Hilarious, huh? Our dorm advisor, Mrs. P., who also was the mother of our classmate, Jay, was on duty that night. She peeked her head in and this coiffed, conservatively dressed mother-of-two laughed and said "wow, you guys have no life." There's nothing like hearing that from your classmate's mom.
Dorks that we are, we took that and figured we might as well own who we are. We called ourselves the 'no-lifers club.' We bragged about our club and we were pretty strict about accepting new members. Reject people from joining and you'd be surprised at how exclusive and cool your club becomes.
Unfortunately, in life, there are just some clubs that you will never want to join. You never knew some of these clubs existed until you find yourself a life member. Sadly, you may even recognize some familiar faces in these clubs.
Two years ago, now almost three years ago, Scott and I found ourselves in one such club when we started to start our family. We got pregnant after four months of trying, only to experience a miscarriage in the first trimester. We never even told most people. We grieved and then we started trying again. But a year passed and we found ourselves in a new world. The world of IF. Infertility. There are several estimates but one says that 1 in 6 couples will have some type of difficulty conceiving a child. What!!! How come no one told us. I felt lied to all these years. I remember the fears impressed upon you in high school by health education teachers. Have sex and you'll get pregnant. All you ever heard from expecting couples was "we weren't even trying." "It took us one month of trying." "I just missed one pill and tada."
Now when people asked us why we weren't having kids, I tried being honest. "Actually, we've been trying but we're having trouble." That certainly sucked the wind out of most people's balloons. But something else happened. People started to open up. They would whisper "It took us two years too and I cried every month." "We had three miscarriages before our first son." "I was on clomid when I had ____" Suddenly, a whole world opened up and I found saw how many people were in the club with me. If you were like the old me and never heard of this club, try to google some of these terms:
TTC (trying to conceive)
BFN (big fat negative result on home pregnancy test)
BFP (big fat positive; most searches reveal people hoping for these...not actually having one)
Here, or google "9 dpo BFN" which stands for a negative test result 9 days past ovulation. There's a thousand of forums of women pouring over their possible symptoms and offering support after failed tests, blogs of women pouring out their hopes and dreams for babies month after month. This club even comes with its own language. If you never look around, you might feel alone never knowing how many people struggle with the same things you struggle with. It's the secret club, a not-so-cool secret club.
I thought that was the worst club to be forced to join. But this year, I've stumbled into two new clubs.
When we discovered Rory had a heart defect that pretty much ensured her death upon birth, I stumbled upon blogs of other moms who faced similiar fates. Mothers who learned their babies had serious heart defects and chose to carry on with their pregnancy. I was struggling with how to deal with the pregnancy. How did other mothers carry on carrying a baby they would soon lose. Were we supposed to plan for three babies? Do we buy 1 or 2 or 3 cribs? If we bought 3 cribs, how could we endure having to return or sell an unused, empty crib. If we bought 2 cribs, did that mean we were giving up any hope...giving up on God...giving up on our child? So we bought none. How did moms endure it when well-meaning acquaintances or strangers on the street asked questions about our pregnancy or the triplets? So many freely offer their advice on raising three babies. Offering gently used baby gear and clothing. Offering to bring us meals. Even giving suggestions on triplet names. And I would nod and say nothing, knowing in my head but not wanting to share that we most likely would have only two babies the following year. Never knowing that in fact it would only be one. I found online two other women who discovered their babies had heart defects and had to say good-bye to their children shortly after birth. Moms who, instead of planning baby showers, were planning funeral arrangments alongside planned C-section dates.
Now, with the loss of Allison, in my dark hours, I find myself searching for the stories of others who have lost a child, lost a baby. There's a whole network of grief blogs...moms who lost their babies to prematurity, or unexplained circumstances. I find myself reading their stories and crying, grieving their losses as I grieve mine. I've learned that four women I have met at church have all lost a child, either at birth or during the first year. I never knew. I never thought to look. I look at life in a different way. On one of the blogs, I read someone realize that it was futile to wish that things would go back to the way they used to be, because they're not the person they used to be. That's me. I'm not the person I was a few months ago. I'm different than what you might remember. I wish with all my heart I could be who I used to be. I miss that person. I miss being that person. But I'm in a new club.
...Wait, there's one more club I did join this year that I just have to mention, before you start feeling sorry for me.
I'm a mom. It doesn't feel real yet. I saw someone post "I can't believe I'm a mom" on facebook and realized that I haven't allowed myself to feel like a mom yet. Letting fear govern me. Not allowing myself to feel like a mom until "Casey comes home" "until it's safe." Scott and I kept asking Casey's doctor, expecting her second child herself, when we could consider Casey safe, when we could stop worrying. She refused to answer as a doctor, instead telling us as a mom, you never stop worrying. We're parents. That's one club that I will proudly boast about and I would hope all applicants be accepted.