Okay, if I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a thousands times. Don’t waste time dwelling on what you don’t have, dwell on what you do have.
I ask my head: are you in agreement? Certainly, my rational head says. It makes life so much easier.
And to my heart I say: okay, our head’s on board? And you?
My heart says, well I’d like to agree but there are times when it’s just not that simple…
Here I am on vacation, and with free time comes time to let your heart and head relax and take a time out. I relish the unstructured time, the freedom to explore and nap or play and enjoy my husband. But every once in a while, there’s a serious tug on my heart string. Like yesterday. On a half-day snorkel excursion, my ever boyish husband lined up with the same glee as the six to sixteen-year-olds eager for his chance at the water slide off the back of the vessel. Oh how I wished at that moment that our IVF treatments had worked. He would have been such a terrific dad — one who would have taught our child to embrace fun and adventure, among so many other things…
Off to the left over the railing, I watched a mother and her carbon copy pre-teen daughter holding hands as they floated happily over the swells inside inner tubes sharing secrets and laughing with a closeness that was powerful and touching.
Okay, says my head. Enough of that longing for what might have been! Let’s enjoy the sunshine and get on with this life, your life, not somebody else’s. My heart grudgingly agrees.
On the ride home, I glance down at the evil portable device that still connects me with the office even when I’m supposed to be unplugged. I glance down to check the email subjects to determine if any require immediate attention, and there it is. An email that makes my heart clench once again. The subject: He’s Here!
Without opening it, I know what it is. One of my six expectant office mates has sent a joyful email. It comes from a man who has been eagerly awaiting the birth of his second child. The note to the entire office announces the arrival of his son, his first boy. My head says hooray. No son could want for a more delighted father. My colleague has been so excited about this little man’s arrival that he’s been talking him up for seven months once he learned a boy was on the way.
My heart says, let’s not open this email. We already know what it’s going to say and there’s likely to be a photo that accompanies it. I’m not ready to see the picture of the newborn just yet.
You see, my heart says, we can’t express without being misunderstood — or worse yet derided — the conflicted emotions, the feelings of sadness and longing that this kind of announcement brings.
What, my head says, is wrong with you? You’re still grieving the loss of those seven embryos??
My heart responds, well, have you ever considered the inverse of that indescribable joy that comes whenever someone gets pregnant, delivers a child or feels that sense of wonder that comes with seeing or sharing stories about their offspring? It’s the opposite of joy, that intense feeling that can sometimes sneak up and grab me…I try to keep it at bay, but sometimes it gets the better of me.
My head tries to be patient. Okay, I understand…but let’s not let this dominate. We are supposed to be having fun. We’re on vacation, remember?
April 3, 2007 6:31 pm
Oh Pamela, once again you’ve said it so perfectly! There was a time when I’ve mourned my dream-babies and the toddler stage of their lives so much, but lately I am sick to my heart when I realize that having a friendship with them like I have with my parents is something that will also never happen. And that hurts more in a way. So many fertiles think that not being able to conceive only rules out being pregnant and not having babies. But it’s not the only lost dream we’re mourning…
April 4, 2007 7:08 am
How many times I’ve thought the same thing to myself. People try to point out what I do have to make me feel better. I do that even with myself and try to see the silver lining always. Sometimes it works but its always been temporarily. There are reminders everywhere about what we do not have and want but can’t get. Being infertile in a fertile world is such a painful thing and its not easy. I believe it takes a lot of greiving and finding an inner strength and a very hard journey. Just wanted to send a you a big hug.
April 4, 2007 4:30 pm
With all that time for relaxing and daydreaming and being somewhat separated from your day-to-day reality, it’s hard to keep such feelings entirely at bay while on vacation. That’s what I’ve noticed at least. I felt a little begrudging on our last trip. I think you’re doing an admirable job of dealing with the “should haves.”
April 6, 2007 2:17 pm
What an absolutely beautiful post! Thank you.
April 6, 2007 10:58 pm
Your pain is palpable. I can’t help but wonder – you clearly pine for children, and would doubtlessly have much to give them. I understand the desire to pass on DNA and to create a unique life out of your love for your husband. But doesn’t the desire to be a parent outweight this? I am really curious to hear your thoughts on why you did not proceed to adoption, even while grieving your infertility.