The pain of infertility and the almost overwhelming desire to have a child is a constant presence for most people that suffer from this disease. What happens to this pain when you finally achieve your dream?
The sudden absence of a feeling, even the negative feelings of sorrow and longing, leaves a gap. If you aren’t careful the feeling becomes almost like an old friend. Infertility and infertility suffering can become a part of your identity.
The key, it seems to me, is to notice the feelings of loss when they bubble up after you are in the midst of the next stage of your life, and allow yourself to feel grateful.
Here is how two “old timers” describe how their infertility grief affecting them even after they became a mother.
Yesterday our daughter had her 19th birthday, and your blog caused me to consider what happened to my own familiar pain of infertility, the uninvited guest who stayed too long in our marriage … where was it now?
In some ways, infertility had a lingering affect on me as a mother, and it took a long time for me to even want to feel “normal”. I thought about loss a lot while holding our daughter, worried about her health, thought often about what next tragedy might befall us to lose this miracle feeling of joy.
It was as though I didn’t want to let the pain go. I felt both intense gratitude and happiness, and then terrible worry, and I became highly protective of her.
Thankfully, today, I feel and act like a normal mom most times in many ways, but I can still sometimes experience the familiar experience of loss and pain almost like a “tangible sensation”. It doesn’t occupy my thoughts the way it did before, but it has an honored place in my heart. It gives me empathy and purpose for groups [the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group] like these.
I remember equating this adjusting to a new reality (perhaps a poor analogy, I mean no offense) to anorexia, in terms of self-image–she is now ‘thin but sees herself as overweight’.
I was holding close our new baby daughter (via adoption), cuddling her as she slept, and had those so-familiar thoughts of our infertility and childlessness. It was jarring to realize I thought this while holding her. It was as though I had to catch up with the (wonderful) new reality.
She is now almost 28, and a foster mom, seeking to adopt – and changing the world, one child at a time. Thank you for prompting me to pause and praise…
How long did you hold onto the pain of infertility? How has it changed you?Image credit: emdot
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That sting of infertility will last a lifetime, I think. At least on the biological side. Comments made by people after articles about Darwin or god’s will or fate or whatever still annoy me in a personal way. I get really annoyed at tv shows, movies, and books that put pregnancy and delivery on a pedestal. My body still doesn’t work right and never will. I still find myself shaking my head almost in disbelief at the thought that people can get pregnant seemingly at the drop of a hat, and I find myself wanting to caution people who are sure they can have a family “on schedule” that life can sometimes change plans on you. But…
…the emotional pain of infertility is largely linked to frustration at the inconvenience and irritation that my body doesn’t work right. It is not the same as the pain of wanting to be a parent and not being one. Two different things. I am a parent through adoption, and that ache of wishing that were true is gone. I may feel odd twinges of wishing I could get or be pregnant, but that’s not linked to the parent thing – how odd is that – it’s just linked to the irksomeness of infertility not allowing for that experience and for the additional layers of complexity that surround the idea of someday adding to our family again. Parenthood, that joy of helping someone figure out and be happy and successful in the world, is decoupled from infertility for me at this point.