Julie, an adoptive mom of two from Ethiopia who blogs over at InCultureParent: A Magazine for Parents Raising Little Global Citizens wrote a beautiful letter to infertility patients on what she wished someone had told her during her long infertility struggles. Here’s just an excerpt, but you really need to go read the whole letter.
Dear Infertility Patient,
I sat in that seat you’re sitting in. Comfy, isn’t it? Nice, rich, dark leather? Ask the receptionist for some water. They put lemons in it, very refreshing. Oh, see that door behind the front desk? That is the door the celebrities use. That big movie star with the new twins, she snuck in through there. Before you get started I want to tell you a couple of things, a couple of things that I wish someone had told me many years ago. …
Look, this is the thing. This might not work. It does for some, but not for everyone. Before you spend thousands of days, and tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on something that is not a sure thing, please hear me out. …
I think I know how you are feeling. Maybe you feel like you aren’t a real woman? Maybe you feel like the reason you can’t get pregnant is because somehow the universe, or God, or whatever, feels like you would totally suck as a mother? …
You may both find that being in a delivery room is not a prerequisite for starting a family. You may find that birthing a baby is not a requirement to be a mother. Amazing thought isn’t it? I couldn’t believe it either. Perhaps you’ll realize you are a mother when you let your four-year-old daughter sleep on top of you for three months because it makes her feel safe after all the loss she has endured. Maybe you’ll know when your infant son reaches his hand up to stroke your cheek. …
You might get lucky like me and meet a child that makes you feel happier than you’ve ever felt before, a child so full of life that her eyes sparkle in a supernatural way. You might be fortunate enough to raise a son who is the epitome of boy, and who wakes up every morning shouting “MAMMA!”, like if he doesn’t see you immediately, he will not possibly be able to begin his day. Maybe there will be pancakes, and playdates, and purple and pink. Maybe, if you are lucky like me, the pain you are feeling now will almost completely disappear. Maybe you will find your way back to each other and the two of you will share something that is indeed the most profound expression of love between two soul mates, raising a family. Maybe you thought that sitting where you are now is your only way to get there. It is not. …
This is what Julie wished someone had told her. Her wisdom may not be yours. What would your advice be to someone sitting in that comfy chair at the fertility clinic?Image Credit: Consumerist Dot Com
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What I wish I could tell the person next to me, is what I needed to hear, what the author of the letter alludes to, but doesn’t say: “You’re special and important and I have every confidence in your ability to be a good parent to your child. What you’re going through is not your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
I knew the odds going in, they tell you those, alongside the no money back guarantee. What they don’t tell you is that you’re an important individual, not just a dollar sign or a statistic they quote to the next person who comes in.
“You’re special and important and I have every confidence in your ability to be a good parent to your child. What you’re going through is not your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong.” Oh Marci, that is beautiful and so very very important to remember when in the midst of infertility.
Julie, I couldn’t have said it better!
I would share that I felt crushed & resentful after our failed infertility treatments too. “Why do we have to start on yet another long, uncertain road to becoming a familly?!?!?” I would say take time to be angry. Once you’re ready to hear this truth, I would share that youNow that we’re a family to 2 wonderful daughters through domestic open adoption…
My advice, honestly? DON’T GIVE UP! Parenting is hard enough, but adoption is complicated. International/transracial adoption is even more complicated and some days I wonder if I’m really doing the right thing by my family and by my adopted child (yes, two years after bringing baby home I am still second guessing my decision). Fertility treatments are painful, expensive, and soul sucking, but they are temporary. Money comes and goes. The issues and life changing events that come with international adoption are forever. I think I’m a minority feeling this way, but it doesn’t get said enough. Think on it long and hard before you walk away from the normalcy that is biological parenting, because there never is any going back.
anon, you are not alone in thinking this and it takes courage to share your feelings. Thanks for trusting us with your thoughts.
There is only one person who knows your mind. You will never be able to fully explain to others the complex mix of circumstances, emotions, religious and/or ethical values, medical concerns, and goals that lead you to your final decision. Others may have similar sounding stories, but in the end, this one is yours and yours alone. Listen to others’ tales, information, and advice, take it all in and find your own peace. Later, when your mind is quiet and you’ve made your choices, remember that you don’t hold the answer for anyone else either. The best you can do for others is to share and support and be a reminder that there are many different stories out there and that only they can choose the “right” ending for theirs.
Oh anon WP. I loved your response, especially thi: remember that you don’t hold the answer for anyone else either.
I agree with anonWP’s sentiments. This is a different journey for each of us, and what works for one person does not necessarily for another. People all have to take their own path, and some people need to feel they’ve done everything they can to have a biological child before putting that dream to rest. Others have adoption on their mind from the beginning. It’s tempting for all of us to look back on things that “didn’t work out” and wonder what might have happened if we’d chosen differently. But we make our choices based on the only thing we have- what we know and suppose at the present. We can just do the best we can to tone down the noise of “should have” and “could have”, and listen to and trust in our own voices.
LN, I agree. We each have to make the best decision we can given where we are at at that specific time in our lives. As we grow and change, so will our decisions. It’s tempting to look back and think that we should have taken a more direct path to where we ended up, but where we end up and our satisfaction at being there is dependent on the circuitous route we took to get there.
I think a healthy way to make these decisions is to try to minimize the “what ifs” or “should I haves”. For many many people this means exhausting the option of having a biological child before they move to adoption. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it can be healthy. However, each person has to decide based on who they are and their finances what “exhausting” means to them.