elephant in the room

I am a happy mom, which means a great emotional current has awoken inside of my body these past two years. I am visibly more emotional because my children’s happiness brings me insane amounts of joy. I am still getting used to having swells of positive emotion overtake my body, but it is a wonderful deficit to endure because it means I am a mom.

I am an adoptive mom, which means that I sometimes get emotionally dirty with my children. When the children and I discuss all things adoption, I weep. I weep for many reasons, but mostly because I cannot change their past. I can help them heal, I can lighten their emotional load, but I cannot carry their burdens completely for that would do them a great disservice in life. They will be better for it. I know that to be true, but it hurts my heart nonetheless.

I am an infertile mom, which means that great amounts of grief and sorrow will always sit anxiously inside a small chamber of my heart. These are the most difficult emotions to predict and control because I never know when something or someone is going to trigger the opening of that chamber. And yesterday, the dreaded MOTHER’S DAY, was one of those triggers.

Adam asked if I wanted to skip church and do something else this year. I assured him it would be fine. Why wouldn’t it be, right? The biggest issues I had to contend with last year were a small bout of crankiness and the decision to stand or not to stand at church. Plus, this year, the kids really knew what Mother’s Day was, and they were so excited to sing at church and have me wear my paper corsage. Like I was going to disappoint them! I figured the most I would have to endure was a couple of gushy mom talks, and a few comments about how the speakers wanted to be sensitive to those who were “not yet privileged to be mothers” or some lame crap like that. (GAG!) Plus, I had already decided that I would never stand at the end of the service as my secret honoring of those who still dreaded the day as I once did, and who were forced to stand because they were, after all, ‘a mother in spirit.’

That was a big mistake. I mean HUGE! COLOSSAL! GIGANTIC! I will never let my guard down ever again on Mother’s Day. Who knew that one of the talks was going to be about a woman who had multiple miscarriages over the past seven years, and is finding faith and strength in the journey as she and her husband figure out what their new path should be in creating a family. What are the chances? Yes, many struggle with infertility. But infertility is painted with a broad brush for good reason. There are many different struggles within, and many different treatments. But this story was my story. It mirrored my own infertility. And there is nothing I could do to keep the chamber in my heart closed. Trust me, I desperately tried for my children’s sake, and for my own.

Instead of feeling more connected to Mother’s Day, I felt like the elephant in the room. I started crying, and I couldn’t stop. It was pathetic. And I was trapped because I knew if I got up and walked out, people would see me crying and that would make it worse. So my only option was to sit in the pew and pull my hair around my face so as few people as possible would see the hysterics building up inside of me and pouring out of my eyes. *permission to laugh out loud*

After the service ended, I thought I had myself under control. I went in to teach my primary class (Sunday School for kids), and I started crying again when I saw a dear friend who recently miscarried her first child. She was bravely and gracefully facing Mother’s Day head-on in the midst of a sea of children. This time I did have to walk out. I made my way outside and I started to sob. I sobbed and I sobbed and I sobbed. It was the kind of cry that doesn’t happen very often. It was the kind of cry that I associate with things like my infertility trials and losing my grandma. You know, the kind of cry that takes you to a place where your mind does not want to go, but where your emotions take you anyway. Luckily, I found a quiet spot outside to work through my meltdown. The experience was embarrassing and annoying–not something I planned or even thought might happen. If I thought for one second that I would lose all emotional faculties in front of people, there is no way I would have went–truly mortifying!

The most significant part of the episode is that people do not understand why I was so emotional. The assumption is that my inability to bear a child is so overwhelming that I must not be truly happy with my “adopted” children. That makes me crazy! And yet, I would probably draw the same conclusion, if I was the outsider looking in. I love my children so much! They are enough! They have breathed life and light back into my soul!

That false conclusion is not why I have moments of residual mourning. It is simply, and only, because I remember! I was not crying because I cannot give life. I was crying because I have lost life. Perhaps someday, when that particular emotional chamber is released, it will not trigger an emotional spiral of remembrance. Perhaps. But yesterday was not that day.

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9 Responses to elephant in the room

  1. Jaime Lynne says:

    Wow! And we were so certain this year would be the easiest so far, huh!? Your statement about your reasons for the tears… crying not because you can’t give life but because you have lost it… really resonated. That’s the most beautiful way to put together the joy you find in your children and the sadness you still feel about the losses.

    Love you!

  2. rachel says:

    Thank you, sweet friend!

  3. Wendi says:

    Oh, I wished I could hug you yesterday…and I’m not the huggy kind of girl… and I know I would have made a scene… I am so glad you are able to document your feelings… you should really consider having your blog printed; it is so helpful, well, maybe I should have it printed…lol; it’s like i read a post, and im like-that’s me! and i want to take this post and show it to my inlaws and say, read this! this is what im talking about… now do you understand?? argh! thx again for sharing ur reflections. i pray that god give you peace and minister healing to ur soul.
    wendi

  4. Megan says:

    Mother’s Day sucks. You were so sweet to check in on me, and I failed to ask how you were. When I’m having a hard time, I’m so bad at thinking about others’ feelings! (my poor friends and family!) You are such a strong example to me.

  5. Jessica says:

    Because you ‘remember’. Where would we be or how would we ever experience the joy if we didn’t remember where we’ve been,the feelings we have felt, and the people we have love and lost? I love you. Big hugs.

  6. Jaimee says:

    O sister, I love you so much! It breaks my heart to know you were having such an emotional day, if it makes you feel any better so did I :) For so many different reasons, I may not know fully how it feels to go through what you have and do go through, but I have ‘lost’ in my life through miscarriage and birth. So I do know the kind of crying you are talking about and it is just needed sometimes but I know that wasn’t the place you wanted it to happen and I’m so sorry! I really love you and you do have 4 precious children here to comfort you and call you mom, how special is that :)

  7. Adrianne says:

    Wow. I finally got around to reading your blog again (a very cathartic thing to do after today). I feel touched (and priviledged!) to be mentioned, but I suppose it’s not for a fantastic reason. I too went into Mother’s day thinking, “Oh, what the heck. That miscarriage business was soo last year. I’ll be fine.” WRONG. I cried, just like you, and hung my head down so that no one could see. Only problem: we were seated in the VERY front pew. I definitely got some looks from the bishopric, but I’m sure they were out of love and concern (and a debate of whether or not to throw me the box of tissues next to the podium).
    What an interesting day Mother’s day can be. It was an emotional rollercoaster to say the least. And though I am fulfilled with many other things in my life, I don’t think that void of losing a child will be filled until the next life, or until I actually do have a family (whether they are genetic or adopted). My thoughts turned to my friend, who delivered a baby that lived to be just six months. She had a rare neurological disorder. I can’t even IMAGINE her struggle, and to think, I was jealous when she was with child, and I was no longer.
    Another friend I thought about was a woman at my office. The office ladies and I were chatting about how old their oldest children were. She said her oldest child was 26. Then she paused and said, “well, my oldest would have been 28 this month, but he only lived a few days after birth.” Yet another tragic moment that so many people do not understand. I think the range of loss that is experienced, either early pregnancy or with an infant death, is significant. Though the feelings many be similar, each person deals with loss in their own way and in their own time.
    Lessons that I wish more people would learn (including myself) are to be aware of those around you and be sensitive to their feelings. As women, most of us desire to have a family and dream of the day when we can have our very own little bundle of joy. Though this may be true, we should be very careful when discussing people’s personal lives and their futures: it really is a delicate subject and not a part of casual conversation.
    There. That is all. I know that we will one day find peace and that our burdens may be made light. Some days are better than others, while we strive to reach that resolve. Mother’s day: a “free pass” from church, lots of emotions and a good time to remember to be aware of other’s feelings. :)

  8. Nancy says:

    I read your last post and it hit me in the gut. I just had my third miscarriage two weeks ago. But contrary to what is expected I shed a few tears and have launched an all front campaign into adoption from Colombia since I refuse to get pregnant again. This is my way my husband says of not dealing with the pain. I know he is right. Fortunately, this time I had complications a tumor in the ovary both had to be removed. I say fortunately, because all I have time to think about is the physical pain and recovering. Fortunately, because there are medications for ailments of the body; not the soul.

    I share your feeling that my body has let me down in doing what it is supposed to. I am an over achiever: educated, sucessful, financial stable, married etc etc. But giving birth was not something I was capable of doing and that is very painful to accept.

    I am sorry you had such a hard time on Mother’s day, I do too, but I just fake it. Ironically, I am the host of brunch on that day for my entire family. It is a bitter pill each year but I wont back down of doing it.

    Anyways, thank you for posting such an honest description.

  9. Carolyn says:

    I get it. I miscarried twice and lost two out of three of the triplets that I was carrying. Thankfully, I kept one triplet – that’s my Brad. But I still get crazy emotional when I talk with my younger friends that tell me about their miscarraige(s). Agreed… it’s the loss that truly never goes away… it just gets pushed further down. It’s known to bubble up every so often forEVER.

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