Coming to terms with infertility is a process: stopping birth control, happily trying, growing sense of concern, appointments with your gynecologist, and finally the big guns—going to an infertility clinic.
The process continues at that first appointment at the infertility clinic. First, you are ever so hopeful. You’ve heard all the success stories and seen all the pictures of adorable babies on the wall at the infertility clinic. For many, this hope is well placed. After an IVF cycle or two they get pregnant, and infertility becomes just a story they tell in their happily ever after. But others are not so lucky.
For some, the infertility struggle is a continual process of readjusting their dreams and letting go of what they expected their life to be.
We received the following question in the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group by a woman struggling with this wearing process of constantly readjusting her dreams.
How do you let go of the idea of a biological child? I’m currently miscarrying my 6th pregnancy. I thought I had started to let go but I’m not willing to not keep trying…..but it’s not looking promising as I’m also at the end of my fertile years.
Lisa Colburn, one of the moderators in the group, wrote the following very wise words.
I remember this so very well: The frustration, the despondence, the sadness, the anger, the envy, the fear. It was truly awful. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, and am so sorry you’re struggling.
For me, the steps to acceptance began when I just realized that this was my reality, and no amount of trying or wishing it different was going to change it. I stopped clinging to the picture in my head of what my life was “supposed” to look like. I looked at my choices and their outcomes, and saw that my almost slavish devotion to fulfilling that picture in my head brought me nothing but pain.
When I opened myself up to what was there, in front of me, and what my “actual” options were (adoption, for us), I had the first moments of peace I’d had in a very, very long time.
Don’t Fight the Sadness
It’s not a linear thing, letting go. I went back and forth a LOT, allowed myself not to struggle against the grief and let myself FEEL it, so I could move forward and embrace the unknown.
I can’t have babies. I needed to learn that it didn’t define me, it didn’t make me less as a woman or human, it didn’t mean I’d never be a parent. It simply meant some of my parts don’t work right. It’s ok; most if them do, and I use all of them to love my family.
Sometimes, our life doesn’t turn out the way we expect. We can turn away from that, wishing for it to be different (which rarely changes anything), or we can turn towards what *is*, and move forward from there.
The trick is giving yourself permission to admit defeat, and to understand that defeat isn’t the end of the world. Just because one (admittedly important ) thing didn’t go the way you’d hoped doesn’t mean you are out of options. Your life can look completely different to what you expected, and still be amazing.
Grateful for My Infertility
In time, I’ve come to be deeply grateful for my infertility. It taught me many things about myself and the world. It pushed me to my limits, demanded better from me, developed my resilience, my courage and my flexibility, made me question my ideas about myself, what femininity, religion and family meant to me. But above all else, without it, I wouldn’t have my son. I can’t imagine our lives without him. And if my body didn’t fail me, over and over, in exactly the way and the time it did, we wouldn’t have him.
Whatever you decide to do, allow yourself to be there, in the moment, doing that thing. Don’t hold out for some ideal, or tomorrow, and miss what’s in front of your face. Be here now. Be still, and you will figure it out.
Have you been there? Can you share your experience?
Other Creating a Family resources you will enjoy:
- Coping Mechanism for the Waiting of Infertility or Adoption
- Letter of Apology (Infertility Sucks for Me)
- “Sometimes I Hate The Person Infertility Has Made Me”
- Dear Pregnant Friend—Why I Won’t be at Your Baby Shower
Image credit:Alexis Nyal