***Guest Post by Sheena A. ***
I’d like to think of myself as a pretty strong person. Like everyone, I have different hats and sides to my personality that I show to the world at different times. There’s the inspiring and exacting teacher that believes in helping her students to achieve all they want, and, of course, the loving and encouraging mom is another hat I wear. I’m also a supportive and resilient military spouse, but there is another piece of me that I don’t usually let too many people see: the infertile woman.
She has been with me for the past nine years, but has been mostly quiet since I gave birth to my boys almost six & four years ago. You see, we struggled for two years to get pregnant on our own at first and then with medical intervention. Whereas most people have a twenty five percent chance to get pregnant each month, we were told we would have a less than eight percent chance of it happening without medical intervention.
The times I hear from her the most are when I see the baby clothes or nursery items that we used for those sweet little babies of ours. These items are hidden and stuffed into storage boxes and spare closets. All she has to say to me when I see them is “not yet” for me to remember what it was like to not have those little boys. I cannot bring myself to get rid of these items because it’s the last thing I have of that precious time I had with those babies.
Recently, I decided to take on the task of cleaning out my boys’ closets and drawers from all the clothes they no longer wear. It’s the beginning of summer, they still have one more week of paid daycare, and I have a week of free, semi-to-myself time. I knew the mountain of clothes and shoes was growing and had been a problem that was ignored for many months, years, and even moves.
At first, she rationalized the amount of baby and toddler clothes we had with the fact that my youngest would eventually grow into them. But when my dear husband would point out that he had outgrown the baby and toddler clothes as well, I had to come clean and tell him “I’m just not ready to let go yet.” He looked at me in the eyes and said, “okay.”
That infertile woman is so thankful that my dear husband has been so understanding to haul these baby clothes and things across the US three times over the past five years. But it’s time to face the music. Those baby clothes and items are not doing any good sitting in our closets when so many others could be using them. So, I embrace that infertile woman inside me and tell her it’s time, and it will all be okay.
Why am I telling you all of this? To remind you not to ignore your struggles and not to stuff them in a closet, but to give them light. A counselor once told me to “be gentle with myself.”
Sheena Arting is an Air Force spouse of 9 years and host of the Dear MilFamily Podcast. She and her husband are raising two rambunctious and sweet boys, ages 3 and 5. In their military life, they have lived in Texas, New Mexico, Florida, and Virginia and made many friends along the way. Before meeting her husband, Sheena mostly grew up in New Mexico, but her family also lived for brief stints in California and Idaho. She graduated from high school in Albuquerque and went to the University of New Mexico. She earned her Bachelor’s in Psychology in 2005 and worked for a few years being a case manager for kids in foster care. She met her husband, Aaron in Albuquerque in 2007 through a dating website. In 2012, she got her Master’s degree in Secondary Education from Texas State University, and she is in her fourth year of teaching middle school. She took a few years off to have and raise kids. Sheena teaches language arts and history. She loves to spread the joy of reading to her students and help them develop critical analysis skills. During the summer, her hobbies are listening to podcasts, making podcasts, reading, and yoga. During the school year, her hobbies are trying to survive!
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Thank you so much. 😊
What a moving post. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Sheena! Infertility impacts the entire family. I totally understand the hesitancy in letting go of the baby clothes. Donating these items can bring so much joy to another parent 🙂 What a touching way to continue giving.