When you struggle with infertility, chasing your dream of having a baby is exhausting. It consumes your heart and mind. Infertility treatment takes a hard toll on your body. Coping with infertility grief, with its many differing emotions, adds weight and burden to your relationships. It can be soul-crushing. We hear a common theme of “letting go” quite frequently from infertility patients as they find ways to cope with both infertility grief and the challenges of treatment to create a family.
The act of “letting go” might mean relinquishing control over the process or adjusting your expectations to realize your dream. It could mean looking for and choosing flexibility about accomplishing your unique goal. Regardless, figuring it out and managing it all is a consuming task.
Today’s guest article, by Susan S., is her story of Letting Go. Hers was both an emotional and spiritual journey, and she speaks from that faith platform. We’re thankful for her beautiful words and willingness to share vulnerably. Your story might differ from Susan’s, but we hope you can find encouragement and joy in her journey and take some of it for yourself.
Many spring mornings ago and after months of dreary skies and cold weather, I woke to a most beautiful day. Even this early in the morning, I knew it was a day to be outside with the sun on my face. It was the kind of day that deserved a trip to the ocean, so I packed up Baby B’s diaper bag and off we went! I planned to be outside near the water and soak up the beauty of my day with Baby B.
At that point, we had been spending a few days a week with Baby B, to help out his mom – who is the relative of a friend. She was unable to care for him by herself, so we happily jumped in where we could, since his birth a few months earlier. As such, we were B’s informal foster parents.
Once we arrived at the beach, I unloaded all the baby gear for the day, getting all set up and ready for our adventure. Suddenly I hesitated on the sidewalk: which direction should we go?
A Seed Takes Root.
It was in that exact moment that it occurred to me that now EVERY decision, EVERY experience was truly ALL up to me. Not just for that day of adventure, of course. But also, for every day he was with us. I was responsible for his safety, happiness, comfort, nourishment, all of it. Every big and little thing alike. It was up to me to make sure he had as many ‘good’ days as possible, days filled with love and laughter. The weight of that responsibility in that moment of awareness was profound and extraordinary.
A seed was quietly planted in my heart and began to take root right there on that curb.
I chose a direction, and we strolled along streets, enjoying the beauty of the waterfront. We sat quietly together, Baby B and I, enjoying the sunshine and warm breezes of this perfect day. As the afternoon waned, I strolled back to the car, packed us all up, and began the trip home. My husband was home from work by the time we arrived, so I cooked dinner, and we talked about our day.
A few bites into the meal, and much to my surprise, I heard these words pour out of my heart and across my lips, “We’re done with IVF.”
You see, I was now 40, and we had spent years trying to conceive. Years filled with soul-crushing disappointments, shots, tests, bad news, and lost hope. Years during which fear grew within me of the very distinct possibility that “none of this would ever work.” My husband had a grown son from a previous marriage, so he was a very supportive and willing partner in my pursuit to be a mother.
But I was in the driver’s seat of this chase. We were soon approaching our last chance – one final round of IVF. Despite all of this, that day I knew I wanted to let go. To let ALL of it go, just like that.
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The Dream Was Right In Front Of Me.
As my thoughts unfolded over that meal, I told my husband that I wanted to stop chasing the dream of the baby I thought I needed, the biological child that I thought I would carry and birth. I told him that there was, right in front of us, THIS child who so clearly needed a mother’s fierce love – a love I knew I already held in my heart for Baby B.
I said, “He is here, and He needs us.”
The fact that I was NOT his mother and that I probably never would be in any legal sense, was completely irrelevant to me. The love for Baby B that revealed itself within me that day was that for which I had been searching. A pregnancy I had so desperately prayed for, had chased after for so long, suddenly didn’t matter anymore.
I felt no sense of loss or one moment of regret at what I might be giving up. The fear that had haunted me for so long was gone. The fear that had guided my decisions, strained our marriage, and shook my faith was now inexplicably absent. Faith and hope returned. Instead, I found myself trusting both the God within each of us who speaks through intuition and the God of miracles and answered prayers.
After that epiphany, our times with Baby B seemed to increase each week. It wasn’t long at all until he was with us all the time. We prayed he would always be with us. We spent time with his birth family weekly, sharing and growing our unique relationship with them. We became a family, coming together for each other and for Baby B. We arranged visits with his birth mom and tried to support her and their relationship as much as possible.
The months continued, and we developed a routine that was working for each of us, while at the same time giving Baby B the stability and care he needed. At the time, it was more than enough for us. In fact, it was more than I’d ever hoped it could be. We fell deeper in love and dreamt of a “forever” that included Baby B in our lives.
The Call That Changed It All.
And then, we got the phone call that changed our world. After a tearful and emotional conversation, Baby B’s mom asked if we would adopt her son. She was relinquishing her parental rights and wanted us to become his forever parents.
In a million lifetimes, I could never explain both the shock and the joy we felt at her request. We were overwhelmed, humbled, and deeply honored. We had never asked her about adoption. We didn’t ever think it would be possible, and yet, miraculously, it was now before us. We were thrilled and so immensely grateful.
We filed paperwork with the court and held our breath. A few months later, with the support and blessing of our son’s mom and birth family, our miracle materialized. On January 25, 2013, at 10:15 am, Baby B’s adoption was finalized. He was just a month shy of his first birthday.
I believe God whispered to me all those months ago on that sunny spring day and opened my heart to HIS plan. A plan, as it turns out, that has been infinitely more beautiful, complicated, and amazing than any plan I could have dreamed of myself.
I was a mother searching for her child. But it was only when I stopped chasing after MY idea of what that looked like, that my child was able to find me.
Thank you, Susan, for your willingness to share your story. We’re thankful you found your dream together!
Image Credit: Christopher Allison Photography; Roberto Trombetta