Some of you have asked me to write about the moment when I stopped feeling childless and started feeling peace. I couldn’t do it because the actual moment hadn’t occurred — until now. You are here with me. My witnesses.
The transition has been building for some time, but guilt was holding it back. Guilt is a powerful inhibitor. A part of me has been convinced that if I allowed the transition that it would somehow mean that all of my efforts associated with trying to have a child would be erased, negated. That a whole chunk of my life would evaporate.
Every doctor visit, temperature reading, ovulation kit, two week wait. Up in smoke. Every hopeful swell of my breasts, every pee stick, IUI. Gone. Every pill, shot, ultrasound, blood draw, suppository, IV, laparoscopy, acupuncture pin prick and promising advancement expunged.
But most of all I worried that by allowing myself to accept a life as a family of two would mean that I didn’t work hard enough for my embryos, that I didn’t want or love my children, that I had somehow failed them. That my children didn’t matter as much as someone else’s children. Why I wondered? I have been dogged by guilt on so many levels. (Excuse me while I blow my nose and compose myself. This is very hard to admit.)
I thought it was my obligation to continue to carry the pain like a badge of honor, to begrudge the happiness of those who conceived easily, to never let go of the heartache or else it would mean that my attempts didn’t matter. And worse still, that I would become like most everyone else around me who act as though infertility is nothing more than a bruise that goes away after a few days. No. No. NO. It doesn’t. It haunts and it does leave scars but not in places where people can see them.
What’s given me the courage to allow the formal handover? To bury a dream? To lose something I’ve wanted with my heart and soul? Well, many of you. You have given me permission by your acknowledgments of my loss, your encouragement to express my thoughts and feelings, your support, but most of all your own actions.
Outside of the infertility world, I’ve been reading and learning from Lady Macleod who lost her husband and son years ago, but managed nonetheless to go on and build a full and adventurous life.
Infertility (and the losses associated with it) — that is not something that can be filed away. I will always remember. I will always know where the scars lay. I will forever wonder about what it might have felt like to succeed in carrying and delivering my husband’s child. But the fact is I’m fortunate enough to have a wonderful husband and the opportunity to build a wonderful life with him.
I won’t stop writing because I want women who come after me to know that the gnawing pain can be managed and that life after treatment does have the potential to bring a different sort of reward.
Finding joy and meaning in life is what I would have wanted my son or daughter to do.