The idea of another baby has always felt like the balloon that slipped my grip. It's there, I can see it- but I can't get my hands on it. I just have to watch it as it gets further and further away, hoping that forces larger and stronger than my will will bring it home.
Five years ago a medical study gave us fertility and then the funding was pulled. We were given six months, maybe less, to have a child. We did as best as any early twenty somethings could do when parenthood is shoved on them in a now or never sort of way. We dove into our miracle baby, we took steps to open the door to another baby down the line, we kind of held our breath. It's nothing short of bizarre to grapple with infertility while completely unprepared to start your family. We barely had our footing out of college and we were making decisions for what we wanted our family to look like a decade later. Having Gus was easy; making decisions about all future babies wasn't, and we still question whether or not we made the best choices.
Since then we've paid the fees to the cryogenic storage, we made first calls to doctors in whatever new area we were living in, we talked about if we had another baby, but neither one of us took it too seriously or pursued it too hotly. We cried, together and alone. I gave away all of our best baby clothes. I feigned indifference while fielding well-meaning questions. And we did things that way because we were hurting immensely. We weren't ready to find out the worst and deal with the finality of it all so we opted to disengage with the situation.
I was thinking out loud to Craig last night about how difficult it is to feel supported while struggling with infertility. Despite the goodness of the people who love us it is hard to say the right thing, hard to hold us through our heartache. It's an invisible wound we cary around that's ripped open by some of life's happiest moments. It's totally fucked up, and not anyone's fault or in anyone's control. Infertility warps your brain. In its darkest moments, it fills you with jealously, anger, and ill will even towards the people you love most. On "good days" it has you going through the motions of happiness for others while waiting desperately for the real feelings- the ones you know you should have and that you want to have- to kick in. It's isolating.
Last month we took a deep breath and went to a fertility specialist. Gus stayed with his old teacher while we held hands and read horrible magazines in the waiting room. As is always the case, the doctor was completely unfamiliar with the rare disorder our family is working with. We spent the first part of the meeting explaining things to him, something that always manages to steal away some of the confidence we have. We had hoped for a path of minimal intervention and almost immediately realized how impractical, how big of a bet we would need to make for that path to be walked. But then we started talking other options. Likelihoods, parts per millions, procedures, care providers, steps to be taken and so on, and things weren't as bleak. The tears that had welled up receded and everything felt Very Possible, or at least Sixty Percent Possible.
It's possible that infertility will rear its ugly head and bring us back down into the depths today, tomorrow, or next week, but right now we feel buoyed in the storm. We didn't get the news we wanted but the news was Good. We have a chance at having another baby. We floated out of the specialist's office that day...right up until we had to pay for our appointment. Ouch. As I write, I am not pregnant and we haven't come anywhere near raising the five figure sum necessary to begin our journey, which brings me to the catalyst of this uncharacteristic share of something I consider to be quite private.
I started North Country Folkware hoping to bring in money for the things in life that come up. Wood, new snow pants, a flock of sheep.. And now I realize on some level that I started it for the baby. The baby I've felt was coming since we had Gus. The baby that had me telling Craig over and over again that our family wasn't complete. The baby that gave me hope even in my darkest hours. From today until November 29, Small Business Saturday, I'm selling wintery chicken ornaments at a discounted rate of $15. My goal is to sell 75 of them to cover the first appointment we went to and the one we have upcoming in December as our insurance has bowed out of this endeavor. The chickens are made with wool from local farms and they're stuffed with wool that I clean myself naturally by hand. 100% Maine wool, 100% handmade with love, 100% for a good cause, or at least I think so. And if you're in the market for something like that, well, I would just so appreciate your support. We all would.
To all those still underwater: I hope you find a buoy. You deserve it. xx
Learn more about the chickens here and here.