Thank you so much for all of the comments on my previous post. Your commiseration, advice, information and perspectives have all been so helpful.
We ended up having a lovely Thanksgiving with my family. And Roo and my mom had a brave and wonderful conversation that cleared up a number of misunderstandings. My mom and I talked a bit as well. After all of this Roo and I are leaning towards taking my parents up on their incredibly generous offer of financial help with IVF.
My emotions on this swing wildly from moment to moment. At times I am excited that we could soon be moving on to a new plan that will give us much better odds of success. At others I am angry and bitter that we have come to this point. In other moments I am anxious about the IVF process and how much Roo will have to go through. And there are plenty of times when I am guilty about having acess to financial help that so many others do not–and if I have access to this kind of money shouldn’t I use it to save starving children rather than bringing another 1st-world consumer-of-resources into the world?
I realized recently that I am spending hours at a time lost in thoughts about the past (reflecting on how painful this process has been and wondering why it hasn’t worked already) or the future (should we really do IVF? what will it be like if we do?) or the never-will-be (all of the bitter and grieving thoughts about experiences that we won’t have because of having a larger age gap between our kids). It’s not the best way to live my life. I know that I will need time in the next few months for thinking and planning and grieving and raging. But my goal is to set aside bits of time for those things, and to spend the rest of my time working on being present to what’s going on around me right now.
One of the best ways to remain in the present is to spend time with Tadpole, who throws himself into every moment with so much energy and enthusiasm. We spent a lovely evening together on Tuesday when Roo was at an appointment and I thought I’d write more about it in an attempt to remind myself how really wonderful many things about my present life are.
To set the scene I should mention that one of the million things that I love about Tadpole is how little he tries to fit in or to do things like other people. He dresses himself, and his clothes often end up on backwards (sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident). At times I mention to him that he has ended up with something on backwards and check in with him about whether he wants it that way or not. And his usual reaction is to assert that he likes it just fine the way it is. One day, when he was wearing a shirt with a backhoe on it, he said “I like it because I want the people who are behind me to see my digger.” He also has a new pair of sparkly purple sneakers, which he adores (somehow we lost one of his beloved fire truck sneakers on the way home from Thanksgiving. I’m still completely baffled about how that happened). I lovelovelove that he is so thrilled to have shoes in his favorite color and so unconcerned with rules about who should be allowed to wear shiny purple shoes. So on this particular Tuesday my beloved child happened to be wearing all of his clothing backwards (which meant the drawstring in his pants waistband made a little tail and the label in the front of his t-shirt was sticking out under his chin) and his purple sneakers.
Another one of the million things that I love about Tad is his imagination and how seamlessly he switches back and forth between reality and fantasy. We arrived home after I picked him up at school and were looking through the mail. He found a Christmas card from an old work colleague of mine with a picture-perfect nuclear family (1 husband, 1 wife, 1 boy, 1 girl, 1 dog). Suddenly we were that family, and I was the “husband” and the yoyo that he dragged around the house was the dog. Then “a fairy came” and Tad was transformed from a woman into a man, “so in this family there are two husbands.” I was told that it was bed time and instructed to lie down on the living room couch while he lay down on an adjacent chair. We were very “I Love Lucy” with our separate beds. Then it was “morning” and time to get up. I had gotten quite comfortable on the couch and protested so he said, “it’s okay husband! I will make you breakfast!” and proceeded to create “scrambled eggs” and “sausages” that looked remarkably like his Brio train cars.
After our imaginary breakfast, Tad helped me make real mac and cheese. He counted spoonfuls of milk, stirred in the cheese powder, and proudly carried his own bowl to the table. We held hands to say our “thank yous” (our family’s form of saying grace, each saying something that we’re thankful for). And we talked over dinner about the tool belt he had made at school and plans for tomorrow.
We had a little time to play after dinner. I was impressed to watch Tad put together a big floor puzzle with no assistance from me. And I was proud of myself for biting my tongue when he asked for help because each time he was able to figure out a solution on his own. Then he wanted to get out another toy, and I told him he needed to put the puzzle away first. He cocked his head to one side and said, “Okay Momma, I make a plan with you. You want me to put it away and I do not want to put it away so I will put away 4 puzzle pieces.” It was hard to argue with such a confident negotiator.
I told him it was time for bed and he asked to be carried up the stairs. Sometimes I wonder if I should do this for an almost-4-year-old, but he is so grown up in many respects that I’m pretty willing to let him be a little guy from time to time. Besides, I love the fact that he tucks his chin over my shoulder and snuggles against my neck. I got him into his pajamas and we brushed his teeth. Then we read his dinosaur book and I sang him 2 songs. Roo and I used to be allowed to sing actual lullabies, but now he demands that we create songs on the spot–and he usually provides the topic as well. Recent song topics have included, “me and my cousin C driving in a truck,” “taking a train to the doctor’s office” and “hall monitors” (after encountering that term in a book we’d read). After songs I (or Roo and I, if we’re doing bedtime together) lie down with him in his bed for a few minutes. On Tuesday he was restless, as he often is, but I still love having a few minutes to hug his wiggly little body. After a few minutes of snuggling, I headed back downstairs to clean up the kitchen, pack lunches…and obsess about the TTC process.
It is very hard to be in this in-between space where we don’t know what the way forward will be like. I don’t like not (yet) having a plan. I hate how much time and energy the TTC process is taking. So I’m trying to take a little of it back by being present to moments like Tuesday night. I don’t want to be so caught up in our struggles to conceive kiddo #2 that I miss out on moments like these.