Saturday, June 21, 2014

Guest Post: Jason's Take

Before I delve into my "assigned" blog post I would like to preface it with some thoughts I am having at the moment.

Writing for others to read has always been an arduous process for me.  In HS and college I can remember staying up until the weee hours of the morning trying to squeeze out a paper literally one word at a time.  I always managed to get it home but it was a painstaking process to say the least.  So when Kerri asked me to write a blog post about my sentiments surrounding this journey we have been on, I quickly became reacquainted with all the avoidance tactics I honed as a school boy. Not because I did not want to do it, but because I just did not know where to start.

I am very thankful Kerri has put so much into this blog. For me it will serve as documentation. We can look back one day and remember exactly how we felt as a very tumultuous chapter in our life ended and a, hopefully, much more joyous one began. As Kerri has already shared, I used to dabble in journaling. I had a journal (not a diary...those are for girls) called "My Book of Thoughts and Various What Nots" that got me through some very angst-ridden years in my early twenties. I also have a journal/workbook that Kerri got me specifically for those who have lost someone close in their life. I do have a few entries in there about my dad although not as many as I wish. As each day passes, I've noticed my brain manages to turn even the most emotionally traumatic events in my life into a continuously more blurry and benign version of itself. These events eventually become just a fact I remember rather than something I can feel.  While this may be a healthy protective measure, there is something lost when that occurs. It also amazes me just how much it has actually happened when I go back and read those journal entries from younger me. And then I am thankful that Me-Then decided to leave Me-Now a little reminder of how I felt. So on the one hand this is Me-Now, who will one day be Me-Then, leaving an older Me-Now a little note.  Confused? On the other hand, this is also a letter to my unborn son. One day many years from now he can read this post and know how much he meant to me even before he was born.

I have always felt that fatherhood would be the most important and rewarding journey I would take on in my lifetime. I actually have proof of this! When I was 22 years old, I made a list of goals I wanted to achieve in life. Kerri posted the actual list  on an earlier entry but it basically went like this. #1 find the love of my life and marry her. (Check!) #2 Have a family with said girl. #3. Seek a career that involved something I love to do. (Check) #4. Raise thoughtful, intelligent, and compassionate children.  #5 Die Happy. I think I had some other stuff in there involving the peace corps,  maybe origami cranes and other things a 20-something dreams up, but those were just lofty ideas for what to do with myself in the mean time. I hadn't figured out yet how I was going to make it happen, but the gist of what I wanted was to build a life around family and a job I loved going to.  I knew that if I had those things #5 would pretty much take care of itself. And...never in a million years would it have occurred to me that the process of trying to achieve # 2 would become the most emotionally and spiritually challenging battle of my life! I know that sounds dramatic, and I really don't like to be dramatic, but it is the truth. It would probably take me a month of writing every day to capture the true gambit of emotions I have gone through over the past 4 1/2 years. Luckily Kerri has pretty much done that for me.  I do think, however, the impact of infertility on the guy is often perceived be to more indirect. Like...this is really hard on the girl which then makes it hard on the guy.  As if to say, having a child would never mean as much to me as it does Kerri. That somehow this is just more emotionally difficult for a woman. I've had a few people suggest that to me over the years, but I can tell you this journey has pushed me to the brink of what I thought I could handle emotionally. On the flip side I've learned about ideas I thought I knew about but hadn't had the life experiences to truly grasp. never know what someone is going through, just make an effort to be kind.  Perspective...Yes this really really sucks, but every day has something to be grateful for.  Even if it's a little thing. If some days you just feel like wallowing, that's okay too. father-in-law's favorite word. Sometimes you have to dig deep and fight for what you really want in life.  For Better or Worse...Oh now I understand what we promised back then. Ultimately, the adversity provided me the opportunity to become a better version of who I was before. Regardless of how it happens, that's always a good thing.

Physically, however, Kerri was definitely required to take on much more which I suppose adds to the emotional tole as well. Dietary changes, surgeries, hundreds of shots, daily bloodwork, D&C's, hemorrhages, the list goes on.  What Kerri physically put herself through is staggering to think about. It blows my mind and just makes me admire and love her even more. (If you still don't believe that women are tougher than men, just watch a season of Naked and Afraid.) I was obviously naive, but I always assumed having children was just a decision you made when the time was right. (or of course when the time isnt right but you just wanted your jollys) Crackheads seem to be able to do it just fine, right?  As for me, I was pretty much asked to go into a little room with smut mags and summon the troops. Umm...I think I can handle that. So when we made the decision to follow the path of surrogacy I was just really relieved she would no longer be putting her body through the physical grind that became so routine for her over the years.

I cannot proceed without mentioning just how amazing our surrogate Ellen, her husband Chris, their three girls (Claire, Lily, and Nora),  her mother Sally, and the rest of their extended family (there are a lot of them!) have been. They have embraced us with so much love, I can honestly say all of the heartache has been worth what we will have in the end. Not just a baby that is ours. One half me, and one half Kerri. But also this amazing family that I know will be a big part of our lives going forward. I can't tell you what forces are at work that lead the people we meet into our lives, but this one just feels like the work of something special. A gift. And I am forever grateful.

I meant to say more about my thoughts on becoming a dad. My feelings the day Kerri surprised me with the news. I knew Ellen was really good at making little humans and if she could just get pregnant we would have a pretty good shot of making it all the way this time. For documentation purposes I will say that the collective weight of everything we had been through up to that point had become so heavy during that 2 week wait, I was literally having a hard time breathing. It felt like I had a 300 lb person sitting on my chest. I was in pretty bad shape, maybe worse than Kerri at that point.  I was just so scared of the idea of this not working. Feeling that blow. Like a huge wave that hits you. First it pulls you under. Then emotional disorientation. Swimming in that for a bit. Fighting to find the surface. And then summoning the strength to keep swimming. That was a
feeling I had become much to familiar with, and it had become just really exhausting. This HAD to work because I just did not know how I would be able to do all that again. Then Kerri gave me that card. I was so confused, and kind of annoyed because she had presented it as a bridal shower card for a friend. And then I saw Ellen's "I'm pregnant and/or I just pooped my shorts" look in that pic and it clicked. It was one of the happiest days of my life. Just raw emotion and gratitude.

The doubt, fear and worry does not fade immediately. Slowly, however, with each passing week and each milestone cleared I can feel my brain letting go of the weight. We are expecting a boy in Dec. and we are at no more risk than any other normal pregnancy at 15 weeks. If we are lucky, things proceed as they are and I get to hold my little guy in December,  my brain will do that trick I mentioned in the beginning.  All the pain and emotion will just become little facts I remember. Luckily we will have this blog as a reminder of the emotions that went into it all as well. Maybe some of the lessons we learned along the way will even help our son find comfort in his inevitably difficult times. But for now, for the first time in a long time, I just feel content. Like I'm in my current, floating along on a perfect day with a beer in hand and Kerri by my side. It feels pretty good and I'm just gonna enjoy every minute of it.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This pic was taken six years ago, on Jason's 30th birthday camping trip. When Kerri read Jason's post, she reminded him that they actually had a picture of exactly what he described.

1 comment:

  1. Jason, you are an AMAZING writer! I can hear your voice and see the emotion on ur face as i read this post. We are so happy for you both!!!!