Outside the Panic and Anger Bubbles


Give it time…the wounds will heal.

Oh how I hated hearing those words. No! You don’t understand. My heart is breaking now. My soul is bleeding. The ache is too much to bear.

When you’re in the midst of battling infertility and the losses associated with it there’s little time to
reflect. You’re too preoccupied with fear and dread, with researching protocols, arranging doctor
visits, living in expectant 28 day cycles. With it come random moments of panic. Will I one day be abandoned in a nursing home with no visitors? Does this mean I’m doomed to a life as an outsider?

Then a different set of storm clouds roll in. Steady anger eclipses the moments of panic. How dare you assume infertility is a momentary stumble? How would you have handled it you clueless, narcissistic mommy-types? The new battle. Ignorance.

The emotional gymnastics routines ultimately wore me out.  Slowly, slowly as the months and years passed, the ache and the anger no longer seemed like they would swallow me whole. What? I’m still here?

Time and distance inevitably did shape and deliver new perspectives. My hyperventilating subsided. I started to take deep breaths and a calm fell over me. It is only now that I have the clarity necessary to understand how I formed my views of the future in the first place. It started when I stood only as high as my father’s waist. (That’s me in the pink coat).


The second child and oldest girl, I took cues from my mother (who made our outfits and took this snapshot). I was the “little mother” to my siblings and always expected I would assume  the full-grown mother mantle and one day host large family holiday dinners. The center of the universe would shift from my mother’s kitchen to mine just as it had from my grandmother to my mother.

See also  Plate Smashing, Anyone?

This snapshot is one of a series of childhood photos I scanned and inserted into a photo book in honor of my father’s
75th birthday, which took place yesterday.  I am one of the lucky ones. I had a happy childhood with parents who doted but still set firm boundaries about right and wrong. It never occurred to me then that I wouldn’t have the same type of life as my parents.

I don’t have a brood of my own to fuss over but that doesn’t mean I still can’t fuss in my own way. You should have heard how delighted my dad was when he opened his gift and relived some of the highlights from his first 75 years.

A girl couldn’t ask for a better father. His patience, kindness, wisdom and sense of humor have helped me through all kinds of challenges. In pulling together the images and stories for his photobook I’ve come to appreciate that he’s given me all the tools necessary to take whatever curve balls life throws my way.


16 Responses

  1. luna

    November 24, 2008 6:21 pm

    happy 75th, PJ’s pop!

    I love this post, PJ. it drips with love for your father, a sentimental nostalgia for both the past and what might have been, and a calm sense of peace about what is. just perfect.

    I can’t believe your mom made your outfits too!

    I would’ve loved to have seen the look on your dad’s face while he went through the book. awesome.

    the best gift I ever gave was a surprise book for M’s 40th — filled with 40 poignant memories from our many years together. it took me 3 months of late nights to make it, but it was worth every moment for the look on his face (and the tears in his eyes) as he turned each page…

  2. Irish Girl

    November 24, 2008 8:50 pm

    Happy Birthday, PJ’s Dad!

    What a beautiful tribute to your family, this post. And a fantastic birthday gift idea to file away for future reference. Reminds me of my own Dad, whose favorite saying while we were growing up was “everything happens for a reason”, which needless to say has grinded me many-a-time. But, you know what, now that the fog is clearing and my reproductive fate is known, it does feel like there are bigger/different/great things ahead for me. Motherhood isn’t one of them … but that already feels less scary … and the other possibilities already feel more exciting.

    (Disclaimer: I read this post in a *good* moment. For I am not always feeling so optimistic, I am human! 😉

    PJ, I’m glad you’re feeling strong in the face of life’s curve balls. You continue to inspire me, as always!

  3. Alacrity

    November 25, 2008 2:33 am

    It is interesting how, over the years, we realize a little at a time what our parents have given us and how they have shaped us.

    What a great gift idea – I am sure he loved it!

  4. Geohde

    November 25, 2008 5:42 am

    Ah PJ,

    As always I admire your intelligence, grace, perspective and well…..your writing.



  5. Donna

    November 25, 2008 6:34 am

    What a wonderful way to thank and honor your father. My Dad did the best he could, I realize now, given the circumstances he found himself in. I have forgiven him for not protecting me from both my mother and my brother, which was easy to do, we have a better relationship now than we ever did when I was growing up.

  6. barb

    November 25, 2008 8:01 am

    Hey PJ

    This is really lovely – and a little sad. I had a little pang when you described the way your mum took over the kitchen from your grandmother…..

    But also amazing as you continue to give to many many people. Just in a way that is different to the one you expected.

    Beautiful post

  7. loribeth

    November 25, 2008 1:58 pm

    What a cute photo! : ) My sister & I did a slide show (set to music) for our parents’ 40th anniversary several years back. Dh & I were in the middle of fertility treatments at the time & I remember feeling absolutely rotten about the absence of any grandchildren at the event/photos for the slide show. Much as I know they wanted grandchildren — aside from the odd teasing early on in our marriage, & a few hints about adoption later on, my parents never pressured me, at least not like I’ve heard some people get pressured, & I am forever grateful to them for that.

  8. JJ

    November 25, 2008 9:58 pm

    Happy Birthday PJ’s dad! What a special way to honor your dad–and I am lucky to have a very special dad, as it sounds like you do. So glad you got to celebrate with him!

  9. j writes

    November 26, 2008 1:21 am

    I feel like you read my mind, and wanted you to know your perspective touched me deeply, as I have been doubting my own existence quite a bit.

    • Pamela Jeanne

      November 26, 2008 5:11 am

      Glad you found a place where you can find shared perspective. We’re far from alone — as many readers have made clear.

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