“Sometimes things have to fall apart so that others can fall into place.” ~Unknown
See what they don’t tell you when you read about infertility, is that in order to really accept or move on from it, you have to grieve it. And grieving during the infertility experience is an entirely different process than mourning and accepting it at the end. I know, I know. You’re saying to yourself, “But, aren’t grieving and mourning the same thing?” Yes, they can be, but for me they were separate. Grieving is what I did while I was going through it. I now mourn the loss of my fertility and the biological children I will never see and the pregnancy I will never experience, but I’m not grieving. They’re two different stages; grieving is present tense, and mourning is past tense. Does that make sense? Probably not, but let’s just pretend it does and read on.
When you’re going through infertility, and you arrive at the point where your chances are looking more and more bleak as each cycle comes to an end without a pregnancy, there is still that annoying, nagging little voice that says, “ What if?” What if after all this time, we miraculously did conceive? Well that nagging little voice, whispering from the recesses of your mind, is just pure evil. Your heart is so broken by that point, that when that voice starts babbling, you just want it to shut up. You don’t want to entertain even the slightest bit of optimism at this point, because you’re all too familiar with how much it hurts when you always end up devastated in the end. So your brain is saying, “Maybe???” and your heart is saying, “No don’t!” And your brain is saying, “Aw come on heart! Just a little bit of optimism….” And your heart starts yelling at you, “HEY!!! Will you please do something and make him shut the hell up?!?!?!” Then you’re all torn, so you tell them both to just stop it and next thing you know, you’re in a three way argument with yourself. (Did I mention infertility can also make you completely insane???) And the worst part, is that you don’t even learn from this argument. All three of you agree to meet, same time, same place, one month from then, and go through the whole argument all over again. So now, you’re not only grieving, you’ve become completely unhinged, and a sadomasochist.
When you’re in the midst of your journey, there is still that little pilot light that flickers away, no matter how dark and cavernous your heart is at that point. When I was at this stage, I thought I had accepted that I was infertile, and that little light would always flicker regardless. I figured it would always be there because the desire to become pregnant was still there, even if I knew we couldn’t. What I didn’t realize was that once you actually accept it, the pilot light goes out. Now that may sound even more heart-wrenching, but it’s not because I was the one who was finally able to extinguish it. I was finally the one in control; I didn’t let grief and sadness do it for me. I did it because I was ready to move on. And for the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel heartbreak when another month with no pregnancy passed by. I was able to step out of my grief, put it in the past, and now, objectively mourn, without stepping neck deep into my grief again.
How did I get to that point, you ask? Did I just wake up one morning and decide it was over? No. If I had that super power, I wouldn’t have suffered all those years, and you would have been reading this part of my blog a long time ago. I can’t really tell you what caused the shift in my thinking that day. All I can tell you is that I was sitting on the couch with my laptop, checking my email and found a “Getting Pregnant” newsletter in my inbox. I hadn’t had any form of trying to conceive or pregnancy newsletters linked to my email in forever. I had angrily unsubscribed to all of those years before. But before I deleted it, I had seen an article saying something like, “Potential new hope for couples with infertility…”, so of course, I clicked on it. Well what I read actually wasn’t too hopeful (“hopeful” was a bit of a stretch really), and it naturally took me down a path I hadn’t allowed myself to travel down for quite a while.
I can’t tell you where my mind wandered from there, all I can tell you is that all of a sudden, everything became so clear it was ridiculous. I always laugh at the people who claim to be prophets, but if they exist, I imagine that’s what it feels like to receive a divine message. I’m pretty sure, if I would have been standing outside at that moment, the clouds would have parted, sun rays would have been cast to the earth as a chorus of angelic voices sang “Ahhhhhhhhhh……”. I’m not joking. The voice I heard was unfamiliar in tone, but definitively mine, and it said, “You have to get off the fence and decide. Does your pain stem from the thought of living the rest of your life, never having been pregnant? Or does it stem from the thought of living the rest of your life never having been a mom?” Suddenly the decade of weight that had built up on my shoulders was slowly lifting, and there was only one answer, “I can live with never being pregnant, but I can’t live the rest of my life without being a mom.” I had heard people speak of epiphanies before, but never had any first hand experience. Well I can tell you without a doubt, that moment fell into the epiphany category. Or as Oprah likes to call them, “Aha! moments”. Call it what you will, but it was as if all my previous worries fell away, and all there was in front of me was the thought, “I just want to be a mom”. From that moment on, I was able to let go of my infertility and embrace the idea of adoption.
I’m not going to say that I’ve washed my hands of it entirely. That would just be kidding both of us. There will always be a part of me that wonders what our biological children would have been like. Who would they look like? Would we have had a boy or a girl? What would it have felt like to be pregnant and subsequently give birth? How insanely cute would they have looked in all those baby clothes I bought while ignoring the warnings from my heart not to jinx myself. Yes, I’d like to say that I’m beyond all those thoughts and completely one hundred percent over it. But I don’t think a heart can ever entirely overcome something that’s such a part of the human condition.
So here I am, a couple months after grieving my infertility, and I can honestly say I’m at peace with it. It took a whole lotta time, and a whole lotta emotional upheaval, but I’m ok with it. It’s not how I pictured my life, but it is what it is. I can’t change it, but I can change what I do with it. I can change direction. I can turn on my signal, and take the next exit off this highway I’ve been driving for so long. I can look in my rearview, watch that highway slowly disappear, put the windows down, and turn up the radio. I can look out in front of me and as the sun comes up on the horizon, I can put my shades on so that I can read the approaching road sign that says, “Motherhood Straight Ahead”.