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.)
Add Your Comment
I wrote about this awhile back, about the cycle of grief and how relieved I am to finally be at the acceptance stageâ€¦ and moving on. I remember feeling like the pain of infertility would never go away. At one very low point I even wondered (for a second) if life was even worth living if I couldn’t have a child. Total devastation. But I’m here to tell you that there is life beyond infertility–maybe a better life than you could have imagined before. It gets easier and the pain does go away (or at least dramatically soften). It helps to keep things in perspective and to count your many other blessings. I totally get what the author is saying about feeling a space where the pain used to be. But I, for one, am so happy to be rid of that pain. I don’t miss it at all and I don’t feel incomplete without it. Instead, I feel free.
Very good blog post. I’m at a point in infertility where I can’t imagine having a happy ending. People keep telling me I need to have hope, but it is so hard. I’m used to the disappointment and hoping has just led to more.
Tina, I understand where you are at. That’s just one of the reasons I loved S’s post–she is giving you and others like you hope.
WOW, did S ever nail it in her heartening post. “…all joy was tempered by the knowledge that it was incomplete and that incompleteness hurt.” and “I had gotten so use to it, that it feels odd for it to be gone. (If youâ€™ve ever had a migraine, you know that point when it *finally* goes away, and your head doesnâ€™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, itâ€™s like that.)” As a fost-adoptive parent who had previously dealt with infertility myself, I feel exactly where she’s coming from. She has articulated my and I’m sure many infertile parents’ pain perfectly. <3
Michelle, her post kinda took my breath away.