Who are we at any given point of our reproductive journey? I'd like to meet the person that says that they are the exact same person they were when they started this hellacious "journey". I use "journey" loosely because that implies that we were willing participants or at least reluctantly going along on this journey. I don't know about you but I can't even count the amount of times I felt like a Giant was whipping me from one side to the other, smashing me into the dirt and dragging me behind him by my hair until it was no longer fun and then he left me there to die. I have a million analogies but those of you have lived it need no analogies. You understand too damn well what I'm talking about.
So that brings me to the topic for this post. Change. I've been reading a lot of blogs about how their relationships are changing with friends and family because they aren't the same and no one understands what they are going through. These wonderful and hurting women are holding the guilt and pain and responsibility for tense/failing relationships, isolating when it's strictly a matter of survival, inability to join in others joy and celebrations surrounding pregnancy/new babies. It's all put on us. IT IS SO WRONG. These kind and courageous women try to stay "normal" for their friends/family/work/society and just suck up the fact that they are going through one of the most horrific experiences a couple can experience in this life. Because God forbid we offend someone or don't live up to their expectations for how we should be dealing with our shit storm. For me, I had up until just recently, friends and family wanting the "Old Melanie" back. I was made to feel bad for being WHO I AM NOW. The OLD MELANIE IS DEAD.
We are changed forever aren't we. That seems to be a given. We are not the same people we were. What has been most shocking to me on the "other side" of the family completion spectrum, is that even with cutting out poisonous or unfruitful relationships over the years, now that we have attained our goals and have what we hoped/prayed/strived/fought for..... PEOPLE NOW EXPECT THAT REACHING OUR GOALS MEANS WE CAN GO BACK TO THE WAY IT WAS. Ok so now let's just pretend none of this ever happened, erase the last ten years and move on. That's what friends and family think. Yes, I'm sure they are tired of hearing about our issues/drama and they can't wait to move on and get their loved ones back. I'm berated for still struggling with depression, for having difficulty not being able to keep up with the house work, for not being able to go back to work yet, for still having anger and anxiety issues, for still not having a stable spiritual relationship, for being on so many medications still...... So for those of you who haven't had the pleasure of living our life, let me clarify for you, ready?
THE OLD MELANIE AND JOSH ARE DEAD, FOREVER, NEVER TO RETURN. GET THE FUCK OVER IT AND SUPPORT US AS WHO WE ARE NOW. ENJOY US AND SPEND TIME WITH US AS WHO WE ARE NOW. LOSE YOUR DAMN EXPECTATIONS FOR US, FORGET THE PEOPLE YOU WANT US TO BE. And lastly, WE WILL CONTINUE TO CHANGE. GASP!
Let me try and give you a little watered down version of "THE CHANGES".
Let me preface this by saying that not only was I changing with every negative HPT, and every loss, and every painful procedure, and every diagnosis.... but there was someone else who was changing in his own way and was just as affected and involved. My dearest hubby. My oh my, I couldn't even figure out who I was at any particular moment, how was I supposed to maintain a relationship with a spouse who was doing the same. AHHHHHHHHHHHH. You'll see later how badly that bit me in the ass. Not like I could have done anything differently or better than I did at the time. I did what I could.
I wish I was only changed ONCE during this whole process but NO, oh no, it's much more horrible and complicated..... Let's start with completely naive Melanie. Naive Melanie wasn't completely dumb. She was college educated in psychology and worked difficult jobs that taught her that very bad things happen to many. However she thought she was exempt from those particular horrors and she was just the one that was designated to "help" those poor souls. She knew she may have difficulty conceiving due to many years diagnosed with PCOS but surely it would just be a minor delay, nothing serious. And it really wasn't in the grand scheme of things. Took a few years, major diet changes, and she finally got pregnant. Naive Melanie was ECSTATIC and nervous of course. When she found out she was having the son she always wanted, she had never been happier in her whole entire life. That lasted one week. Naive Melanie disappeared forever on April 14th 2005, when she delivered her first son at 22 weeks and he died in her arms.
Melanie 1 replaced Naive Melanie immediately, put up some walls, and violently went through the stages of grief many times over, self medicated, self hated, felt hate towards others, jealous, bitter, angry, guilty, and her whole world as she'd known it was gone forever. The God she thought she knew, the spirituality she was exploring, all dead to her. She had been suddenly, shockingly, and horrendously wounded and became isolated, vascillating between apathy and rage/pure hate, defensive, self harming and suicidal. Melanie 1 was barely able to continue working at a high stress job. Melanie 1 and Josh had some talks and made some decisions. They both felt that trying again immediately for another child would help them. They felt they needed a goal, something to focus on, perhaps to help the grief and pain. They got pregnant with Nathan almost immediately.
It was then that Melanie 1 left and was replaced by Melanie 2. Melanie 2 was determined, hopeful but cautious, wanted as much control as possible, took excellent care of her body, REFUSED TO THINK about anything other than this baby (who she knew was a boy) being born full term, healthy, and in her arms in 9 months. She was more positive yet anxious however she started delving into prayer and her spirituality again. Melanie 2 was strong willed, advocated for proper care, became an expert on her reproductive issues and treatments. They went on to have a precarious pregnancy with Nathan-harrowing cerlcage placement, worst case scenario, and then FEAR every second of every day, the agony of carrying a baby and wondering every.single.day if your beloved baby was alive or dead in your body. But Melanie 2 was still strong and determined, pushing away the feelings of fear, inadequacy, and grief over Ian. Melanie 2 made it full term with her rainbow baby Nathan.
Melanie 3 emerged at his birth, full of joy and happiness and excitment. Melanie 3 was relieved and loving and caring and kind. Melanie 3 and Josh brought their new miracle home to their new home and couldn't wait to start a wonderful life. Melanie 3 didn't last very long.
She was completely side swiped by Melanie 4, the post partum grieving bitch. Melanie 4 required therapy and medications and was in shock that after all she had been through, why couldn't she just enjoy her miracle, her rainbow baby, and move on with a wonderful life. Melanie 4 suffered a deep chronic depression which was a combination of delayed grieving for Ian and terrible post partum depression. What was wrong with her, everyone asked, including her. Melanie 4 hung around for a LONG time and fucked all kinds of shit up, spiritually, financially, maritally-nothing major. After a major last minute decision to sell their house and move back to the state they were from, Melanie 4 was positive at first, happy and work started looking up. She got a raise and a promotion. She thought this would be a great time to start trying for another baby. Josh was totally onboard. They enjoyed the fall together, were excited about the future plans. Melanie 4 managed to pull herself out of the pits of despair. Melanie 4 and Josh desperately wanted Nathan to have a sibling, it was something they felt very strongly about and were willing to go through the fear and unknown again...... they got pregnant immediately aaaaaannnnndd cue the most horrendous unexplained first trimester miscarriage, Melanie 4 tried hard to deal with it well, she was in shock. Waited 12 weeks for her body to miscarry naturally, only to bleed out in her sister's bathroom on Jan. 1 2010, she almost died, what the hell. There was no reason for that miscarriage. Melanie 4 tried but after the D & C in another state over the holiday and an unsympathetic Supervisor that busted her balls over the phone, Melanie 4 called it quits.
Melanie 5 arrived in a full and horrifying mental breakdown. Melanie 5 became completely apathetic and that was all. Sad too. She quit work and gave them a piece of her mind and then laid around in a delusional fog, putting all responsibility and finances on Josh, who has never had to do this and was shell shocked himself. Melanie 5 DIDN'T GIVE A FUCK. About anyone. Melanie 5 was gone. Barely was able to take care of Nathan. Isolated completely and didn't care. Melanie 5 was completely disconnected from Josh who was working two hard jobs to make ends meet because Melanie 5 was completely and utterly unavailable for anything. She went on and off meds, and then turned into a wreckless uncaring wench that enjoyed drinking and hurting others just to feel SOMETHING. Apathy with the meds, mania while off of them and self medicating....things were the worst they've ever been. Melanie 5 stayed the longest and created the most havoc. Melanie 5 made a piss poor attempt at taking a new job but got fired after only three weeks. Melanie 5 didn't even care that much. She went on her medication and stayed on it, was less miserable, got a puppy, moved to another house and in the process Melanie 5 and Josh decided they would try one.more.time.
Melanie 5 left the morning that Melanie 6 found out she was pregnant with Caleb. Melanie 6 knew she was pregnant long before the positive test and she knew he was hers for the long haul. Faced the same stressful pregnancy issues, easier cerclage, but she was happy during this pregnancy even worked a bit. Caleb was born full term and healthy. Melanie 6 was finally truly HAPPY and joyful! She was an improvement on the other Melanie's. Melanie 6 wasn't working and stayed home with him and nurtured him. She thought, I could get used to this. No post partum this time either. She gave him her all, everything she had and SHE LOVED IT. But there was always something in the back of her mind bothering her, like when you forget something and you just can't place what it was........ Then Melanie 6 remembered.... HER MARRIAGE! After Caleb was born, Melanie 6 was so thrilled to be feeling happy and joyful after all those years feeling depressed, sad, and terrible. She was so thrilled that she was able to stay home with him and care for the completion of their family in peace and happiness. She was so focused on everything else, that she COMPLETELY and inadvertenly threw her husband to the wayside, ignored his needs without even realizing how terrible their marriage was. Melanie 6 really wanted to pretend that everything was normal and happy now that she had their completed family. Except she spent who knows how many years neglecting her marriage and ignoring her husband's stress and pain and fear. Things went unresolved and Josh was the type to bottle it up instead of upset her with his needs and worries. So there they were, with everything they had worked so hard for, finally, trying to just start from there new and fresh, yet they were completely disconnected and their marriage was about to end. It happens. It happens just like that. Melanie (all of them) and Josh are the souliest of soulmates. And if they could be derailed.... anyone can, frightening! The details about the "almost divorce" I won't go into, but it was bad, the things said and done were very uncharacteristic of us but who the hell knew WHO WE WERE ANYMORE. I didn't keep track of Josh's changes 1-6, like I did mine. I assumed he was fine and just kept it all together and could pick up the slack and not need the support right now. There was a lot of hurt, years of unresolved and undiscussed issues.
That is when Melanie 7 arrived, yes, a different Melanie, a major change happened even after we had finished our family, who would have thought? I am Melanie 7 and every day is a struggle. I'm sure there will be more "Melanie's" throughout my life. Sometimes having your happy ending, isn't what you expected and the changes you still go through are confusing and frightening. I decided to focus on my marriage and my kids right now. I like to be by myself with my family right now, isolated, even minimal family contact. I tried, sometimes painfully to maintain close friendships with great old friends as I went through all these different changes and I didn't realize how taxing it was on me. After a certain point, even my best friends don't want to hear it anymore. They don't know what else to say or do. They don't UNDERSTAND, that's the problem. So where do you go from there? For me, I had to cut them off. Only the people that love me unconditionally and don't passively aggressively make me feel guilty for not being able to "give" as much to their relationships are allowed with my family. Only the people that have NO EXPECTATIONS and NO OPINIONS for who I am now, what I'm doing, how I'm doing, you get the picture. Because that's how I have to do it for us right now, even after we accomplished our goal and thought life would be much easier now. No each reproductive struggle we endure scars us, some deeper than others, some take longer to heal, but the skin will never be the same. We will never be the same, and that's ok. I'm not who I thought I would be right now. I'm living up to whatever potential meter I had for myself. I'm doing what I'm doing, and that's all I can do right now. Other people can take their judgements/expectations/advice and shove it. Most of them have NO EARTHLY IDEA, not even an iota, of what we've been through. And that causes such a huge disconnect even in the best friendships I've noticed. I know a lot of you feel guilty and sad when you have to do this but I can honestly say at this point, I don't feel those things. It's survival. I don't know what the nature of my friendships will look like in the future. I haven't even begun to explore that because like I said, I'm focusing on the us right now.
And as a last message here.... If I could go back and do one thing over, it would be this- I would cling to my husband (which I did in the beginning during the immediate traumas) but I would cling to him ALL THE TIME, we would cling during the fear, the unknown, the confusion, the death, the opposite moods, the pain, the anger, the hurt, the worry, the anxiety, the conflicts of opinion and feeling, we would cling during the down times when life was blah and there was no immedate crisis but we were just unhappy and blah, even then. Because I look back on all of the time we wasted emotionally and even physically separated during those times when clinging would have greatly benefitted us and gotten us through this stronger as individuals and as a couple. Clinging in fear and worry and distress and the unknown is an ODD concept to think about, but I would have done it, because the alternative did not work out for us and almost ruined us. I LOVE reading the blogs of women who are continually downtrodden (I don't love that part) but that say "This has made me and my partner stronger, and for that I'm grateful."