Infertility: Letting Go of What We Thought Life Was Going to Be

Dawn Davenport

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Infertility-letting go of how we thought life would be

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.

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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.

Admit Defeat

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:

Image credit:Alexis Nyal

29/08/2016 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Blog, Infertility, Infertility Blog | 3 Comments



3 Responses to Infertility: Letting Go of What We Thought Life Was Going to Be

  1. male infertility says:

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  2. Anon AP says:

    I have never been grateful for my infertility – maybe that’ll happen some day – but I have come to terms with it. It wasn’t easy because there were so many emotions that I was trying to sort out at the same time.
    – anger at my body
    – frustration at the lack of control it brought to our lives
    – irritation at everyone else having the “right” answer
    – coming to the realization that that, without ever intending to, I had somehow absorbed the idea that fertility and the ability to carry and birth a child was a defining characteristic of being a woman. So what did that mean for how I felt about myself and my identity?
    – recognizing that a desire to be able to become pregnant, a desire to give birth to a child/have a biological child, and the desire to be a parent were all different things. Two were out. One was not. I get to grieve and be frustrated AND it isn’t a betrayal of any future family.
    – realizing and feeling that I had gotten stuck on this idea of the perfect moment of birth and snuggling a newborn baby with my husband had become some super-image of parenthood instead of the lifetime that follows that moment. Had to flip the weighting I gave to these.
    – realizing and feeling that I had gotten stuck on that idea of the “perfect moment of birth” as “normal” even though I know sooooo many people for whom that moment never happened. C-sections, emergency deliveries, babies immediately transported somewhere, mothers needing critical care, etc. Did I think they were less valid parents? No.
    – recognizing that we had no problem with the idea of an expanded definition of parenthood and family that included a whole ‘nother side of family on the part of our child(ren).
    – affirming that we were willing to do the work to learn about adoption with all its complexities
    – Giving myself the OK to say, “we’re done.” Not “I’m giving up.” It’s not about weakness or strength or defeat. It’s about taking a different path and, for us, getting out of a loop of frustration and sadness.

    Lingering there wasn’t a positive place for us. We needed to step out and be sad and then decide on the next steps. Stopping and becoming OK with that choice happened before we really moved to start the adoption process. Adoption was definitely in the background through the whole infertility process, but we really had no idea what that actually meant. And, we needed to get over some other stuff before we were ready to fully commit to all that adoption entails.

    There is no set timeline for all this or a pre-determined outcome. Everyone is different; every situation is different; and every decision is based on individual values, feelings, circumstances, history, tolerances, etc.

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