Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Traveling Red Dress Experience

The history of the dress
I bought this dress a little over seven years ago.  

It’s been worn exactly twice, and languishing in my closet the rest of the time.  It was bought for me to wear as a bridesmaid in a Christmas wedding, the wedding of two of my best friends who soon started trying to have a family.  After a two and a half year struggle with infertility they were finally able to conceive, and now they have two of the most beautiful twin girls I’ve ever seen (saw them just last week).

When my husband and I started our attempts to have a baby they, along with another close friend who has PCOS like me, were my inspiration.  From tests to treatments to disappointments they had been through it all before me, and held my hand (literally and figuratively) through it all.  Then four years in I started with a new group of fertility specialists and FINALLY got pregnant.

It was the last week in January 2011 that I wore this dress for a second time.  I’ve been deeply involved in music from very early on: sang before I could talk, piano lessons from age 3, music major in college, and through it all I’ve had debilitating stage fright.  I try over and over with mixed results to force myself to sing/play/speak in public.  That January, the same week I started new treatments for what was wrong inside me, I decided to work on the outside as well.  America’s Got Tallent auditions came to Atlanta, so inspired by theblogess and her red dress wearing encouragement I went to the auditions, red dress and all.  The good news is, I’m not bad enough to make it on TV.  The bad news is, I’m not good enough to make it on TV either.  But I made it through, and with that boost of confidence I didn’t embarrass myself to badly.

Only two weeks later I found out I was pregnant for the first time.  I was overjoyed, only to have a miscarriage three weeks in.  It was devastating.  I tried to see the good in all this.  I mean, at least this proved that I COULD get pregnant, something I hadn’t managed in four years of trying.  But to have our hopes raised and dashed in such short order, only to be followed by month after month of disappointment seemed more than I could take.  My self-image went to pot!  From January to September I had gained nearly 20 lbs.  Nothing seemed to matter, not how much I ate or exercised, I’m sure all the crazy hormones I was on didn’t help, so we decided to take the rest of the year off to focus on getting healthy and then decide how to face the new year.

In October I started having horrible lower back and stomach pain, similar to monthly cramps, but instead of a day or so and then my period they went on for nearly a week with no sign of change.  I finally realized that they were in the same location as pains I had had during my first pregnancy.  Turns out, I managed to conceive, no timing, no drugs, no idea how this happened after almost five years of trying everything under the sun.  I spent the next two months terrified to eat the wrong thing, exercise to hard, expose myself to any chemicals, anything at all.  I was so terrified of another miscarriage.  Add to that terrified to tell people I was pregnant again only to have it end in disappointment again.

The dress moves on
So when Jenny mentioned having a new red dress photo shoot a few days back,, I looked at my body and said, no way am I fitting into that dress.  But it got me to wondering, if I can’t wear the dress, who could?  I mean, it’s a beautiful dress, and it’s spent the majority of the last seven years crushed in my closet gathering dust.  So I offered it out.  This was the response I got:

I need this dress. My struggles are with infertility, and weight. I turned 30 back in June, and every day my hopes of becoming a mother just slip further away. My life is consumed by the tremendous booming of my biological clock. We can not get pregnant without IVF, but financially we are fish out of water. Asking us for $15,000.00 is like asking for a million. 

I wake up every single day, chocking back the tears and just feeling damn sorry for myself. I can’t seem to shake it. I don’t want to work, or be social, or even cook a meal for my husband. For the life of me, I’m trying to summon the will to do anything-absolutely anything. I haven’t allowed photos of myself to be taken in over 8 years, because I HATE what I see looking back at me. I’ve completely lost my own worth. And I need to find it again. I have to. I have to wear that dress.

I swear only God could have let this person see my little comment way down on theblogess’s website offering the dress.  To have this dress offer encouragement to someone else going through the same struggles I’ve been through means so much to me.  So as this dress is on its way to its new home in Idaho it goes with all the prayers and blessings and love I can send with it, for the next lady who will wear it, and the next, and the next.