You have to be so much better than you ever thought you could be

7 Jun

Stupid Stork wrote a post about infertiles in film and reminded me of a movie I had blocked out of my memory: Away We Go starring Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski.  I watched this movie right after I lost the baby.  I think.  I don’t really remember.  I know I watched it but I can’t remember when.  All I know is that when I watched a scene she posted on her blog, I had this feeling.  It was a feeling like “once upon a time this broke my heart into a million pieces and made me feel like dying.”  This feeling usually happens when I remember things that happened either while I was pregnant or after we lost him.  That’s not really the point of the story, though.

The point is that the part of the movie she posted on her blog was my favorite then and it’s my favorite now.  It’s when they visit their friends in Montreal who have a bunch of adopted kids and this seemingly awesome life.  Before they even walk into their house, they are awed by it. They have this gorgeous house, they are grown-ups (compared to how Maya and John’s characters feel about their lives) and obviously have it together.  They walk into the house and are greeted with a Sound of Music sing-a-long and the happy chaos of a big happy family.  They then go out for an awesome night on the town that makes it seem like this couple has everything they could ever want to be happy.  After a lot of drinking, they go out to grab a bite to eat and the guy (played by Chris Messina, who I also love) says this about parenting:

It’s all those good things you have in you. The love, the wisdom, the generosity, the selflessness, the patience. The patience! At 3 A.M. when everyone’s awake because Ibrahim is sick and he can’t find the bathroom and he’s just puked all over Katia’s bed. Patience when you blink, when you blink,  and it’s 5:30 and it’s time to get up again and you know you’re going to be tired all day, all week, all your fucking life. And you’re thinking what happened to Greece? What happened to swimming naked off the coast of Greece? And you have to be willing to make the family out of whatever you have.

Then his wife (played by Melanie Lynskey, who I also love so I think I just love everyone in this movie) says the title of this post.

You have to be so much better than you ever thought you could be.

She’s talking about parenting but she’s talking about so much more.  Later on, it is revealed that she has just recently had her fifth miscarriage.  That seemingly perfect life is not so perfect after all and they don’t have everything they’ve ever wanted.  Maybe I’m reading way too much into this but I feel like when she says that, she’s not just talking about being a parent this huge family she has created through adoption.  I feel like she is also talking about being a parent to those five babies that she lost.

Later on, her husband says:

I know she loves all those kids like, like they were her own blood. But, I wonder if we’ve been selfish. People like us we wait till our thirties and then we’re surprised when the babies aren’t so easy to make anymore and then every day another million fourteen-year-olds get pregnant without trying. It’s a terrible feeling, this helpless, man. You just watch these babies grow and then fade. You don’t know if you’re supposed to name them, or bury them, or… I’m sorry.

You have to be so much better than you ever thought you could be to watch those babies grow and fade.  You have to be so much better than you ever thought you could be to name those babies and bury them and to not want to shake those fourteen-year-olds and to not beat yourself up for waiting until what you thought would be the right time.  Most of all, you have to be so much stronger than  you ever imagined to try again.  I always get upset when people call me strong.  I tell people I’m not strong and that I’m just moving forward because it’s the only thing I can do.  But I’m wrong.  I am strong.  We all are.  Despite the loss, we move forward.  Even if you’ve never been pregnant, every failed cycle is a loss. My friend calls them misconceptions.  She’s right.  A loss is called a miscarriage but there isn’t a word to describe the loss of that hope of a baby month after month and year after year.  There should be a word for that.

Despite the failed cycles, the miscarriages, the stillbirths, we move forward.  We conceive again.  We adopt.  We choose to live a life without children.  We try to make our families out of whatever we have, whether it’s our biology or adoption or just making a family out of the two of you. We feel like we don’t have a choice so it doesn’t mean anything.   That’s wrong.  First of all, we do have a choice.  We could crumble, fall apart and never get out of bed again.  We don’t.  (And when we do, we realize we can’t do it forever.) Second of all, moving forward requires every bit of strength we have.  We open ourselves up to a world of loss again and again in the hopes of building a better life for ourselves, no matter which way we decide to resolve our infertility.

I have been beating myself up lately about taking so long with the adoption process.  I feel like we have dragged our feet every step of the way.  We have taken our sweet time with everything and I feel like people are judging us because we should be on the books already.  I feel like if I really wanted a baby badly enough, I’d be done already.  A couple that was in a class with us already has a baby!  I feel like I have failed already.

But it is HARD, people.  It is so hard.  Once we are on the books, we are opening ourselves up again.  There is the possibility of more loss out there.  Yes, if we stick with the wait, we will have a baby at the end.  In between now and then, we could still lose, though.  We could be scammed.  We could have a birth mother choose us and change her mind.  She can change her mind before the birth, after the birth, or after we take the baby home.  We can have a birth father decide to parent.  There is so much that can happen between now and our happy ending.  It’s really freaking hard and it’s really freaking scary.

So, I am being strong.  I am putting myself out there and it might hurt.  Our profile is nearly done.  Soon,we will officially be a waiting family and that is going to require me to be so much better than I ever thought I could be.  I’m going to have to stop being so hard on myself because there’s already enough stress involved in moving forward and I’m going to need my strength.

PS I don’t know why but I can’t put the video in here so here’s a link. 


13 Responses to “You have to be so much better than you ever thought you could be”

  1. Kristina June 7, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

    And we’ll be strong together. All of us together that are waiting for our baby. Thank you for your posts they give me strength to keep trying and waiting for my fruit in the barrenness.

    • Anna June 8, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

      Thank you for saying that. I’m glad that they help you. It definitely helps me to write and get all these thoughts out of my head.

  2. Feit Can Write June 8, 2013 at 1:09 am #

    This is a beautiful, heartfelt piece. A couple of random, unrelated thoughts:
    – The process until you are active or on the books takes as long as it takes. We took our own sweet time the first time around too, and (***adoption cliché alert***) it worked out. If we had been on top of things and rushed through everything we may never have ended up with our daughter – and I cannot imagine that.
    – I have a couple of quibbles with the quotes you posted. “I know she loves all those kids like, like they were her own blood.” I guarantee you that line was written by a non-adoptive parent. Blood doesn’t matter to us, nor does it matter to our families. We could not love our children any more if they came via an agency or via my wife’s lady parts.
    – And in our infertility, it was not the 14 year olds that we hated, it was the people our age who abused drugs, couldn’t stay out of jail, or otherwise could not be half the parent we knew we could be. Those were the people we hated. And Octo-Mom. We really hated Octo-Mom.
    – There’s no doubt that you’re about to open up the door that keeps the pain and loss at bay, and those evil bastards could come in and punch you right in the face. But, man oh man (***another adoption cliché alert***) it is sooooo worth the risk. We had a brutal failed adoption (long match, BM changed mind, likely scamming us, found out on Facebook a few days before Christmas. You know, the usual) that sucked the wind out of us for damn near three months. But I’d do it again in a heartbeat knowing that my amazingly handsome son is on the other side.

    Since I’ve used all of adoption clichés for the month, I’ll stop now.

    • Anna June 8, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

      I’m glad that we’re not the only ones that have taken our sweet time. Honestly, sometimes I feel like the only ones that feel like this. Everyone else is zipping along as if this is all no big deal!

      It’s actually really funny you said that about the “like they were her own blood” comment because I went back and forth a bunch of times about whether to include that line. I mean, it’s part of his whole little speech but it was one of the only things that didn’t ring true to me in that part of the movie. I ended up just letting imdb make the choice for me and since it was in there, I left it in.

      I used to go back and forth on the 14 year olds. Sometimes I wanted to shake them. And sometimes I felt like my heart would break in a million pieces for them. Especially when they were making pregnancy pacts because they just “wanted someone who loved them.” How does something like that not break your heart?

      Thanks for the support. It always helps to hear from someone that made it through to the other side. And by the way, our first drafts of our profile are AMAZING. Thank for recommending Joanna. She is incredible.

      • Feit Can Write June 9, 2013 at 1:00 am #

        You are very welcome for Joanna. She is the best, and that is what your family deserves.

  3. chon June 8, 2013 at 4:35 am #

    Fuck Anna. TEARS. This post was amazing.

    • Anna June 8, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

      Thank you… I totally cried while writing it.

  4. SM June 8, 2013 at 11:29 am #

    This is an amazing post. The adoption thing takes as long as it needs to take. Some people rush through the process and do the greiving while they wait for a baby. Others take longer to get the initial part done and take their time greiving as they go. There’s no right or wrong way of doing it. Save your strength, sweetie. Moving forward (even after you have that miracle child) is never easy.

    • Anna June 8, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

      You’re right. There is no right way – but I get myself all worked up comparing myself to other people. It’s always my downfall…

  5. Brooke June 9, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

    This was so well-said. I haven’t seen that movie–but it was the Netflix DVD that arrived right after we lost Eliza. We put it in one night and when the opening thing came up on the screen with the couple and the stroller, I burst into tears and we mailed the DVD back the next day without ever watching it. Maybe I should watch it now.

    You’re absolutely right about adoption opening yourself up for heartache. It is a huge risk, but of course it’s one with a priceless payout–definitely worth the risk. I wish you the very best.

    • Anna June 10, 2013 at 7:01 pm #

      I really liked it but like I said, I love everyone that’s in it, pretty much. I would recommend it. I can totally understand bursting into tears though!

  6. Elizabeth :: Bébé Suisse June 27, 2013 at 6:45 am #

    This part of the film totally escaped me the first time I watched it, pre-TTC and pre-loss. Thank you for pointing it out and analyzing it so wonderfully. This is such a moving post.

    • Anna June 27, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

      Thank you! Hope you are well!

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