Meet Our Contributors: Kelly's Story
Meet Our Through, Not Around Essay Contributors! Today, we are proud to introduce Kelly MacCready: "I value human connection immensely and sharing our stories does just that; it connects us in a profound way."
1) Why did you decide to share your story in Through, Not Around and with the 16 Percent community?
When I saw your call for submissions about experiences with infertility, I knew I had to share mine. I had never shared it in it's entirety. It spanned so many years that I kept thinking it was almost over or I kept trying to put it in my past (unsuccessfully) or compartmentalize it. I had never looked back at it as a specific period of time during which I was intentionally trying to create my family - in many ways, I hadn't processed all of it. Life is like that; it just keeps moving and moving and sometimes we don't have (or don't take) the time to process things and reflect on them. When I do take that time, I'm always happy I did. Thanks for the opportunity!
2) Has writing about your experience helped you heal in any way? What have you learned through this experience so far?
Sure it has. I think healing is a long and continuous process that comes in waves. I think I'll always be healing from different things - my many miscarriages and struggles with infertility being one of them, in addition to other losses or traumas in life. The writing out of my story was cathartic for sure - I remember crying as I did it. But the surprising part for me has been how much I have enjoyed sharing my story with others and seeing their reactions. I've watched the book come out and I have friends (or even people I don't know well!) read my story and comment and engage and share their own pain and I just love that. I value human connection immensely and sharing our stories does just that; it connects us in a profound way. There's a great song by Secret Sisters with a line that I love; "If I keep on hiding, how will I be known?. This sums it up for me; if I don't share my pain (as well as my joys), how will people know me? I (and I think others) have a fundamental desire and perhaps a need to be known. We can't be known by everyone, for sure. But it is always surprising to find out WHO might be most touched or affected by the stories we share. That has been healing to me - the way my story can draw me closer to other people who understand or share similar experiences.
One thing I am learning is how my infertility is one piece of me and certainly not all of me (not even close). I think learning that is a product of aging (I turn 50 this year!) and also of processing the grief that went with the losses. When I get out my pain and I feel heard, I feel more able to let go.
3) Tell us more about you. What are your hobbies/passions/pursuits?
I was a social worker for almost two decades and I recently went back to school to pursue a PhD in Social Work. It's been quite a ride; to return to school later in life. I'm interested in the social construction of motherhood and how it affects the mental health of all women, regardless of whether they have children. Life feels hectic right now - with two kids turning 18 and 5 and a doctoral degree in the works. I faced some health challenges this past year so I'm visualizing better health for me and my family in 2019 and the onset of spring! My passion is family, for sure - and I have an expansive definition of it. I'm from a large family myself and love my siblings and extended family fiercely and treasure time with them. I also know family is what you make it - it's a corrupted word for sure but I reclaim it - I love my family; kids, spouse, extended and friends. I'm forever grateful to them.
I love music and singing and always have. I host a monthly singalong in my home which does wonders for my mental health and my sense of community.
4) What is your favourite quote?
Oh wow, that changes almost daily. There are just too many. I feel like fishing out Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Barbara Kingsolver and bell hooks - my favorite writers. But when I think of fertility, I am reminded of a quote from a song I sung over and over and over in my twenties; "If blood will flow, when flesh and steel are one, drying in the colour of the evening sun, tomorrow's rain will wash the stains away....but something in our mind's will always stay." I'm sure Sting wrote that thinking of war, but it seems true of any loss and descriptive of every trauma.