Today’s guest blog post is from Stephanie McGregor, a Canadian teacher and artist. Read her story and how she is using her art to help her deal with infertility.
My name is Stephanie McGregor. I’m an artist/teacher and have been struggling with infertility for two and a half years now. Until several months ago, my husband I kept quiet with our struggles, until I did a blog post called “The Monkey in the Room”. You can follow this link if you’d like to read it:
I knew that I wanted to start a project that I could turn to whenever I feel sad about not yet having a baby.
I bought a very large, blank canvas and hung it up in the room that I hope will one day be a nursery. It sat, white and untouched for a while, until an intriguing thought began to unfold.
I could make a map!
As I started sketching out places that are important to me, a little story started forming and it speaks of all the places that our “lost” child can find us.
At first I began painting our little cedar bungalow and my childhood home (which is actually next door!) I added depth with colour of the trees and wildlife wandering across the canvas. Then, the memories started to come trickling in. Like the way my three sisters and I would run after my dad as he mowed the lawn and the pool parties we once had. My childhood dog still scouts around, a protective light glowing. Our lost pink paddle boat chugs down the river, leading to the cottage where we spent every summer. The more I continue to work on this painting, the more saturated with memories my “map” will become.
As I’m painting, I also think of my mom and dad’s struggles. They tried for seven years to have children. Eventually, they had in vitro fertilization, which was successful and they had three five pound baby girls (including me). My younger sister came 15 months later, an unexpected, wonderful surprise!
I cannot express how wonderful my childhood was and this is what I focus on as I’m painting. All I want is the chance to have a family of my own to create new memories with. I plead with my future child, saying that here there are:
Creatures to befriend
And possibilities to pretend….
If only he/she could find us!
Some days I am feeling so overwhelmed with emotion that I aimlessly wander over the canvas, dabbing paint with no direction. What am I doing this for?
I’m sure anyone going through infertility can relate to some of these feelings.
Other days I feel hot anger and will brush an orange red sunset across the canvas. What is wrong with me?
A lot of times, as if in meditation, I spread translucent layers of blue to form soft waves. I can accept this path I’m on. Then again, once in a blue moon, I feel hideous green envy. Why her and not me? I allow myself to paint without worry of ruining this piece.
Other times, I focus my attention to one small part of the map and then revel in the feeling of creating something beautiful. This feeling anchors me.
Other days, I simply sink to floor, my worries weighing heavy and crowding my mind. It sometimes strikes me that this room is supposed to be a nursery, but it is filled with only paintings. I am hit again by fact that besides a paintbrush, my arms are empty. The fact that I so badly want to make new memories with a family of my own and I don’t know when that will happen. It’s been two and half years and how much longer do I have to go? Why does it feel so lonely? Does anyone really understand how I feel?
I am also struck by how this journey has changed me. I find that I’ve put myself at a distance from friends and family. I’m afraid to dream too big or wish too much. Instead of bounding carefree down the road, I step cautiously, looking out for rain. I wonder where this road is going.
But then I glance up and I see what I am in the process of creating. This map is part of my story, one that I can share with my future child. It really is beautiful. At the end of my story, I wrote to my little lost one:
I can’t map out a life for you that:
Leads you always the scenic route
Away from sadness and pain
I can’t promise you won’t have to walk
Through the dark forest even for a little while
The very least I can do
Is make this Map to Us
And hope, wait, and dream
That it finds its way to you.
So I stand up and keep on painting my map. I don’t know exactly where my road to becoming a mom is going yet, but I still have a lot of hope.
I have a few suggestions for anyone who is looking for a project to work on. Why not think of something big that will take a while for you to work on? You can plan out your idea and then whenever you feel like you just need to take your mind off of what you are going through, you can do a small part and not have to think about it very much.
I wish you well on your journey!
To read more about Stephanie’s story and to see more of her artwork, visit her website at; www.stephaniemcgregor.ca