Human emotions are amazing in both their complexity and simplicity. Pain and grief are not emotions we want or like, but after awhile we become acclimated to the pain. Infertility may hurt, but it’s a hurt we are familiar with… a hurt we may even identify with. It is in essence the devil that we know. So what happens when the pain and grief of infertility goes away?
Say what you will about the corrupting influence of Facebook, but sometimes someone will quickly dash off a post that literally takes my breath away with its insight. Such was the case a while back on the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group. One of our members nailed so perfectly the uncomfortable feeling of waiting for your emotional self to catch up with reality.
S struggled for many years to get pregnant and then to adopt. Last November she and here husband adopted two kiddos from foster care – an 11 year-old girl and a 7 year-old boy. With her permission I share her thought on waiting for the pain.
After seven years of trying, crying, hoping and crashing, we finally have the family we were looking for and it feels… weird. Everything family-wise was a struggle, a rollercoaster, for years.
We would start a new cycle or get the match, and the ‘demon of hope’ as I came to call it would start us planning about ‘next Christmas’ or ‘next Mother’s Day’ or ‘how we will tell our parents’, etc. and then… nothing. Each milestone we had planned in our head came and went leaving behind a bittersweet flavor of ‘if only’, and we moved onto the next thing or the next project. It got to a point that all joy was tempered by the knowledge that it was incomplete and that incompleteness hurt.
Now we have finally achieved our goal, and we can feel the unadulterated joy of the season or the event or the moment, and yet….I still look up every once in a while and say ‘something’s missing’, and then I realize that what is missing is the pain, the loss. I had gotten so use to it, that it feels odd for it to be gone. (If you’ve ever had a migraine, you know that point when it *finally* goes away, and your head doesn’t hurt anymore, but you are exactly aware of where your head is in space because the absence of pain is a tangible sensation? Yeah, it’s like that.)
I hope that as each year moves forward we can settle more and more into the new normal and begin to feel joy as just joy, maybe even take it a *little* for granted, instead of framing it in the absence of pain. I no longer want pain to be my normal!
Wow, didn’t she just nail it!?! After you finally achieved your goal to become a parent either through successful fertility treatment or adoption, how long did you still carry around the burden of the missing pain?
Image credit: Amanda D. Olson (Watercolor illustration from the “Forever Family” series.)