I'm back! Back from what you ask? Well back to blogging after a nearly 4 week absence for one and back home from a week of fun with Chad's family for another. Yes I said fun with my in-laws! All of them! Chad, Eliana and I spent a week swimming, rock-sliding, kayaking, playing games and celebrating with his brother and sister and their families at his parent's cabin in the Georgia mountains. I know to many of you this sounds crazy, but I adore the family I married into. I cried when we left. I am a lucky girl.
We created so many wonderful memories this past week. This is going to sound ultra-cheesy, but every moment felt special and amazing simply because our daughter was there to share it with us. Throughout the week, I couldn't help but notice how much more "in the moment" I felt than the last time I had been there. I could smile and mean it. I could laugh without forcing myself. I never had to fight back tears or pretend to be having more fun than I was because I really was having a great time. The last time the entire family was together in this cabin still held plenty of happy moments for me, but mostly I was hurting. It was Christmas 2009 and as we boarded the plane for the trip, I was anxiously waiting to see whether AF would show up after an incredibly difficult and emotional 2ww. Her arrival on Christmas morning was a stab to my heart that was almost too much to bear and spending time with my nieces and nephews provided me the contradictory experience of both easing my broken heart and exacerbating it. I will never forget the chain of crying that occurred on Christmas day. One of my sisters-in-law was in tears due to a challenge she was facing with her son's behavior, followed quickly with tears from other sister-in-law who was also crying and overwhelmed by her oldest child's behavior. Que me sobbing my eyes out in the corner because although I knew their struggles were real, and challenging, I wanted more than anything to have a son or daughter's difficult behavior to cry about.
This trip was heads and tails different than that experience. It made me realize just how much my heart has healed since becoming a mom. I didn't ache or hurt when we celebrated my sister-in-law's pregnancy with a surprise shower. I could enjoy my nieces and nephews and watch them play without feeling sad or wistful. Being able to really be me this time, I could see just how hard those family events really used to be for me, just how guarded and detached I really was. I didn't feel like I was fully apart of these occasions then. I felt like Chad and I were the odd ones out. The only ones with empty laps and empty arms. I wasn't myself, I was nearly consumed by infertility. That experience was always right on top of my conscious thoughts throughout the week, and it kept me grounded and happy. I didn't get particularly bothered when my dinner got cold because I was busy cutting up bite sized meals for Eliana, or when she woke up early from her naps because she was asleep in an open loft without much protection from noise because these were the problems I cried for the last time I was here. I am not trying to be a saint or idealize things. I'm a normal woman who was grateful to have my mother-in-law volunteer to watch my daughter so I could have a break. But I also truly felt so incredibly lucky and grateful to have a toddler demanding my attention when I was trying to have an adult conversation instead of being left alone with the empty, achy feeling of childlessness after everyone else has pulled away by their kids needs for attention.
I think the best part of this week though, wasn't my experience, it was hers. Watching Eliana play and giggle with her cousins made me melt in a way I can't even describe. All four of them were so incredibly sweet with her and she was in awe of each of them. She followed the girls around, trying to imitate them and take part in their games. She let the boys cuddle her and care for her and giggled at their silly faces. She found her uncles to be almost as hilarious as Daddy and let her aunts paint her toenails and play lap games with her. She trusted her Grandmommy completely and just flat out adored her Grandaddy. She spent the entire week laughing, playing, learning and being loved. I am so thrilled that this is her family. That she is blessed to be related to such amazing people. But it also kills me that she has to live so far away from all of them, that she'll have these experiences only every so often instead of often. It's the same story with my side of the family. I am incredibly close to my mom and sister and they adore Eliana almost as much as I do. The last time they visited, she screamed when she watched them walk away into the airport, she wasn't ready to say goodbye. And neither was I. I feel incredibly guilty to be raising my daughter without more constant interaction with the family that loves her so much. But I also feel so blessed that she has the family that she does, that she loves spending time with them so much that I wish there was more of it rather than less. And I am grateful that both my family from childhood and the family I married into, love me as much as they do so that with their support I could be true to myself in both the heartbreak of infertility and the joy of motherhood.