Boy am I glad to see the "Happiness Challenge" over at Stirrup Queens.  Because I have been working on this and it has been really fruitful.  I am happy to see this up at other blogs because my posts about the pursuit of happiness had been met with a resounding silence and I got into a few private mini-funks about it.  Maybe people out there only want infertility type dramatic News My Uterus Can Use, and that would be sad for me.  Becoming a whole person outside of infertility is saving my life right now, and I would hate to think nobody wants to hear about it.  Not that I would stop blogging just because no one is reading: that never stopped me before.  But now I see that I’m not alone in the whole feeling-better-if-even-just-for-five-minutes thing, and that is so nice.

I am amazed that the pursuit of happiness is possible in the midst of infertility.  I am so grateful to Julia Cameron for this book, "The Artists’ Way," that is guiding me.  Little things like de-cluttering the top of my dresser, or allowing myself fresh raspberries, in combination with daily journal writing and digging a little deeper, have yielded a lot of little habits and rituals that help a TON with the ongoing grief and uncertainty. 

I think the uncertainty, the waiting of infertility, did a number on me.  I folded parts of myself up and put them away, as if my life can’t really start until the family starts.  Part of this folding away has been self-protecting.  I have become excellent at withdrawing; scanning guest lists to avoid pregnant friends, easing away from the couple with the new baby at social gatherings, skipping reunions and girls’ lunches and showers.  I have gotten pretty good at censoring my own feelings, editing my own desires and interests just in case I might stumble onto something painful. 

When I sat down and started making lists like "What would I be in another life?" or "What are ten tiny changes I could make right now?" the hidden lives and loves were not baby, baby and baby.  They were everything else I put away.  They were random, often attainable, tiny changes or reasonable goals or buried dreams that could get unburied and looked at again. 

So I am going to take lessons in something I will never be great at, so I can remember that I am not all about results.  I cleared a few of the ugly or cluttered spaces in my house, so I can enjoy having control in at least a small area.  I am doing the crossword so I can succeed and finish something (except Sunday in the NYTimes can break my b***s).  I allowed myself some new pieces of clothing and inexpensive jewelry, so I can reclaim my femininity in spite of my uterus & ovaries.  I am filling my senses and my heart with all the movies and musicals I can manage.  Are my choices corny and uncool?  Sometimes, but I am reclaiming my right to be me: I like what I like and I don’t care what anybody thinks anymore.  I am reclaiming God as the great Creator, who made me to be creative and joyful and fertile – not the uptight "you’re getting warmer" God with the impossible standards He had turned into.  For awhile.  I bought a 12-pack of travel kleenex, and have a pack with me always, because I am allowed to laugh and cry at anything.  And I do.

I am loosening up inside. It’s a good feeling, like the turning point of a bad chest cold, when you feel things finally start to clear.  I’m also messy, and mood-swingy, and unpredictable to myself and others.  But I like it, and I need it, and I was like this before anyway, except without the joy.

I can’t stop noticing that I was ready to head into motherhood with no creative outlets, not a lot of flexibility, a ton of saved-up anger and grief, and a mountain of expectations.  How did I think that would go for me?  What sort of pressure were my children going to be under?  How was a screaming infant or two going to provide for my sanity and my soul? 

I believe that the pursuit of happiness isn’t a diversion from delayed motherhood.  The ability to identify and pursue the little things that will feed my soul each day is a tool I’m going to need – badly – when the kids come.  I am grateful I have this time to build my little habits and rituals and I feel blessed that the negative betas happened so that I have the time I need.