“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity”. ~Gilda Radner
Okay, so being those of you who are reading this are super smart (at least I like to think my readers are or will be whenever they get here), you’ve figured out that this entry is a rant of potentially epic proportions. (I’m sure the title didn’t give it away or anything.) But I feel I have to get this out right off the bat, for a myriad of reasons:
- Reason #1- It tells you how we arrived at adoption, as many different people do it for different reasons.
- Reason #2- I hope that for those who haven’t experienced infertility themselves, this will help them gain some insight, and perhaps be a good support to someone who is going through it.
- Reason #3- I hope that for those who might be right in the midst of their infertility journey, that they may feel understood, and not so alone.
- Reason #4- I wanna get this out of my freakin’ system!!! I’ve carried it around long enough, and I’m ready to stop lugging this suitcase around and downsize to a carry on.
So bear with me. This will be the one and only rant, I promise. On infertility that is. I mean, inevitably I’ll make reference to it, because regardless of moving past it, it’s still a part of me and who I am. I’m just not letting it define my life anymore. So grab a coffee, a water, or your beverage of choice, find a comfy spot to curl up, and follow me….
Well this past Mother’s Day, was the first, in probably about a decade or so, that I didn’t spend throwing a pity party for myself. After years of infertility, with month after month of endless disappointment, Mother’s Day and all the commercial hype leading up to it, was always a period of mourning. Of course I celebrated my mother, mother-in-law, and all the other friends and family who were mothers. But there was an underlying and building sense of dread whose pinnacle was the actual day, and had me just wanting to crawl under the covers and not come out until it was all over, and a couple days passed..
It’s not bad enough that you have the infertility reminders on a day-to-day basis. Co-workers waddling around the hallways with their pretty little pregnant bellies, and the emails sent out announcing the “Shhhh….it’s a surprise!” baby shower. All the relentless phone calls from my mother with the “good news” that yet one more cousin is expecting. Which of course means, the onset of another shower plan in the works. (And can I just add that with 40+ cousins on my Mom’s side alone, I’m not being dramatic. That really IS a lot of “good news” phone calls.) Then there’s living in a part of the city where you can’t spit without hitting either a public or private school, and you can’t blink without seeing yet another happy mom and/or dad pushing a baby carriage. (And to add insult to injury, that mom often has another baby on the way! Then there’s the well meaning jovial comments such as, “Sooooo…are you and M ever going to have kids?” When you’re infertile, you’re surrounded by a barrage of ruthless reminders of a barren womb.
So in order not to be reminded of your seemingly useless and uncooperative uterus, you think, let me be honest with people, and just tell them that we’re having fertility issues. I may not be able to control all the visible reminders of motherhood that the universe seems to thoroughly enjoy pelting me with, but this should make people feel uncomfortable enough that it will at least put an end to the painful procreation inquiries. Yep, it sure did. It did, and then it took things to a whole ‘nother waaaay too personal and intrusive level. (Something about fertility immediately inspires aquaintances to share.) “Have you guys tried this position? You know if you’re standing up that they say it’s not conducive to helping the sperm travel to your egg.” “Well how often are you having sex? Are you sure you’re doing it enough?” “When we got pregnant, we were all over eachother non-stop during my fertile period. Couldn’t have pried us apart with a crowbar!” Insert giggles from them, and forced smile from me, here.
It is just so incredibly painful to be infertile. Not being able to do the one thing that is a natural process for seemingly all of humankind (and supernatural for some particular members of the species), is absolutely devastating. I remember thinking how often as you’re growing up you’re warned about how easy it is to become pregnant. How in the early years, you’re told in the schoolyard how holding hands or kissing a boy or it could lead to pregnancy. Or not.
Ah the cruel and bitter irony of it all. You spend what seems like forever trying to avoid it, and then it’s finally the right time; you’ve met “the one”, and you’re ready to settle down, and start your family. “Okay, here we go! Lets be parents, we’re all ready… oh yeah, this is gonna be great”…..(rubs hands together)….”Here we go”………….(silence)…………….”Yoohoo!!!!”………”I said, ‘ Here we go! We’re all ready’!”………(silence)……..”Hello???? Is anyone listening????? We’ve found that person. You know, that “one” everybody talks about??? We’re committed to eachother and ready to be parents. Yeah, us over here!” (frantically waving arms) “Hello??? ….. Anyone???????????????”…..(silence and the sound of crickets)…….
And though you read the statistics, and they tell you you’re not alone (anywhere from 1 in 6, to 1 in 8 couples experience infertility), it can feel like yours is the only womb for miles with a “for rent” sign posted on it. Okay, let me re-phrase that, it does feel like yours is the only womb looking for a tenant to sign a nine month lease. Everywhere you bloody well turn, you see glowing pregnant people and couples, and your uterus can’t help but cringe, and ache a little. Actually a lot.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want all the people in my life who may read this thinking, “Oh God. She was so miserable and there I was rubbing our good news in her face.” Or, “I had no idea how completely insensitive my comments were. She must have hated me!” Nuh uh. Yes, the news and comments get under your skin, but you know that they’re all coming from a genuinely good place. So in some miraculous feat of emotional fortitude, you manage to be happy for others who have succeeded at what you so desperately want. Your feelings of hurt, disappointment, and anger don’t overshadow your joy at finding out that your friends or family are expecting. Let me put it like this….
“The saddest kind of sad is the sad that tries not to be sad. You know, when Sad tries to bite its lip and not cry and smile and go, ‘No, I’m happy for you.’ That’s when it’s really sad.” ~John Mayer
You’re like those little cartoon people that walk around with a little grey raincloud over their heads. You never can shake that little grey cloud entirely. So in those instances, that’s pretty much how you feel; a happy sadness.
But eventually, for me, I went from sad to bitter about it. (If you’re really comfy and ready for a legendary, metaphorical display of the aforementioned bitterness, you can read an old ambiguous My Space post where I wrote about it: Pity Party ) Gradually, infertility was just there. A hole in my heart for sure, but you learn to live with it, and just keep plugging away. That little grey cloud still follows you everywhere you go, but he backs off and lags behind a bit. Didn’t mean that I didn’t still want to get pregnant as badly as I ever did, it was just that the disappointment had turned to doubt that it would ever happen, and I just learned to live with it until I was ready to move on to the next point. And at that point, I didn’t know what that point would be. Would we move forward toward adoption, or just scrap the idea of being parents all together? M had never really given up on becoming parents, but I will admit that I certainly did. I remember coming out with a comment to him that I had been afraid to say out loud for a very long time, even though I’d been thinking it for quite a while. “I’m thinking maybe I’m just not meant to be a Mom at all.” Which he, quickly and exasperatedly, dismissed, but I really wasn’t so sure.
M and I had always said we’d consider adoption, even before we knew we couldn’t get pregnant. We had spoken about having biological and adopted children. I thought it was a wonderful way of building your family until I was faced with it being my only option. I felt like such a hypocrite. I had touted how wonderful adoption was and casually threw out there how I would be more than willing to adopt, and how more people should consider it. I had encouraged friends who experienced infertility and were contemplating adoption, before eventually conceiving. I was the cheerleader for adoptive children. Then when it came my turn….well, lets just say I wasn’t exactly waving my pom-poms quite so high anymore. More like not at all.