There are some experiences in life that continue to shape and forge us long after the actual experience has ended. We stretch and grow and learn a lot while living it. Then we learn a little more after we’ve had some distance.
We carry from such experiences indelible memories and, if it was a particularly bad experience, there’s usually some unfinished business.
In the case of not being able to have children despite herculean efforts to conceive and deliver, the business of sorting out the emotions, conflicts and what ifs takes time — serious time. The sorting process gets deferred, interrupted or protracted because, really, who wants to be reminded, daily, of failure and loss on such a grand scale? And yet we need to face and sort and understand if we’re to move forward.
Despite stalling and self-imposed breaks in the process, we’re inevitably drawn back into trying to make sense of it amid the return of harvest holidays. For me — and many in my shoes — this begins with Halloween and carries through to the end of the year. I’m not the only one feeling this way. Luna, Loribeth and WaterBishop are just some of the women who have written about this.
Try as hard as I might in years past to focus on the joy in the shiny, happy faces, my smile would inevitably tighten and my now well-honed acting skills would take center stage. Fortunately the pain has dulled and the scars have begun to fade, but there’s something about the annual cycle that sets off warning bells. The memories become sharper and the accompanying emotions return in ways that force us to remember — whether we want to or not.
This year I’m going to try and stretch a little further. We have friends without children visiting us from Germany later this week. They’re the same ones who entertained us when we were in their neck of the woods this past spring. Our time with them elicits wonderful memories. They managed to do what few others have: helped me forget about infertility during a fun-filled weekend.
I look forward to reliving that experience starting with a jaunt through the wine country. They’ll then join us for a night of ghosts, goblins, ballerinas and action characters looking to fill up their sacks with sweets on our porch. It will be a night made easier knowing that our Teutonic friends understand us in a way few couples in our social circle do. Unfinished business doesn’t seem quite so daunting when you know there are other hands to help lighten the load.
What sort of unfinished business do you have on your list? (Oh, and what sort of wine should I be sampling on your behalf?)
October 28, 2008 5:48 pm
Good for you! Hope you have fun.
My unfinished business for now, is to enjoy this Friday(and weekend) for what it is, rather than what I thought it should be. And eat some much neglected chocolate.
Have some good dry reds for me. 😉
October 28, 2008 8:40 pm
My unfinished business is to let go of the hurtful things that even loved ones have said to me regarding this issue. For example, the other day my sister was extolling the virtues to me over the phone of the McCain/Palin ticket. (I respect everyone’s political views – even those that differ from mine, so please excuse any political references here . . .) I commented that I believed Sarah Palin to be unqualified. My sister flew into a rage and eventually ended up saying to me “well, at least SHE has babies.” I couldn’t believe it. She weasled her way out of it by saying that she meant something completely different, but, honestly. Do I really have to listen to things like this for the rest of my life?? I am so sick of this shit. (Please excuse me. I am very hurt right now.)
October 28, 2008 9:30 pm
Oh, that is awful. I am very, very sorry.
October 28, 2008 9:33 pm
Have fun with your German buddies!
I was just composing a post about the continuing healing process. I have lots o’baggage.
I still feel sick when I come in contact with the fertile. I’m not bitter, I’m consumed with hate. 😉
I LOVE the Townshend T3, but I think that is a Washington wine.
October 28, 2008 10:49 pm
I would highly recommend going to Sterling right outside of Calistoga. We have found our friends love the Tram ride because it is a wonderful opportunity for great pics at a low price.
As for tasting I always love Franciscan’s Chardonnay, reasonable and yummy!
October 28, 2008 11:20 pm
A good merlot, my friend.
They’re hard to find where I am…
October 29, 2008 1:28 am
Thanks for the shoutout. I think I will always be trying to make sense out of this experience. And most especially at this time of year.
Enjoy your time with your friends! (Halloween should be an interesting experience for them! — I don’t think they have anything quite like it in Europe, do they?) I don’t know much about wine, but if you ever get to the Niagara region, you must try some icewine!
October 29, 2008 1:33 am
It’s funny. I’m quite okay with Halloween and Thanksgiving (for the most part). And I think any of the holidays in December through early January are tough for anyone who is/was going through IF.
For me? It’s Easter. Because it’s spring. Which is the time for new life and new beginnings. And unfortunately it coincides with my biggest heartbreak in my efforts to conceive.
It’s funny, I think the times my infertility hits me most are the days and moments that remind me of a particular tough time in my IF journey. My failed IVF. The announcement of my SIL’s pregnancy with Liam. The subsequent passing of Liam. And now the birth of her (now 2 month old) daughter.
Tell me, Pam. Does this ever start to fade? Will the holidays be the only time I start feeling empty again?
October 29, 2008 2:52 am
Yes, dear Emily, it does. It’s remarkable in some ways to recall how deeply sadness, longing and anger once consumed me. There are flickers now and again that remind me how debilitating those episodes were but nothing close to what it felt like on those worst days. Stay strong, honey.
October 29, 2008 2:55 am
ah yes, so begins the season of mirth, or not…
thanks for the shout out. nice to know I’m not alone…
as for unfinished business, I have plenty. a few clusters in storage, for ex., that we will probably bid farewell to soon, as they’re not going to do me any good, sadly. that’s a tough one…
as for wine, it depends where you’re going and for how long… pinot in s’ern sonoma, zin in n’ern sonoma/alexander valley, chard, sauv blanc and cab in napa. if it’s warm, cakebread sometimes has a nice rose… the big question is where will you eat?
October 29, 2008 1:45 pm
I was wondering where you were going to eat too! I like Bistro Jeanty, but there are so many great restaurants.
I like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – though I am partial to Sonoma (Healdsburg and Alex. Valey – in the Napa Valley, Chateau Montelena makes great wine. Chateau St. Jean is very picturesque – good for a picnic if the weather is fine.
Back to the topic of unfinished business…wow, that is a good question. I am not even sure that I am prepared to answer that…perhaps letting go of the regret I feel at the series of choices which landed me here.
October 29, 2008 6:54 pm
Oh, I like my reds deep, sassy, and a touch musty. So enjoy one of those for me!
At the moment, my business feels strangely finished: I’ve seen the worst, and know I can deal. I know I have no control. I know people just do not get it most times.
But ask me in a week, and who knows what the answer will be.
Meanwhile, have a blast and a half!
October 29, 2008 10:11 pm
I don’t discriminate when it comes to wines, so try a little of everything for me!
I feel like my unfinished business hasn’t even gotten started yet…
October 29, 2008 11:24 pm
Enjoy your friends! We’ll be dressing up our dog, as usual.
What sort of wine to sample on my behalf? ALL OF IT, please. 🙂
November 1, 2008 6:52 am
I never used to feel this way about the holidays.
Here’s to childless friends!
I will recommend the Reynolds Family Winery (easily overlooked) I’m a red fan, but their 2006 Chardonney is lovely. The winery is located just outside Silverado.
November 1, 2008 11:36 am
Sample any wine you like, as long as you have a drink for me. And I’ll have one for you. You can’t get drunk if it’s someone else’s drink, can you?
I know what you mean about the holidays, though.
November 3, 2008 9:26 pm
Thinking back to all those IF years when it was so painful to run from one part of the family to the other, celebrating with little nieces and nephew while each year coming up empty handed myself.. then losing my brother’s only child Chris to a hit and run driver at 16 (5 yrs ago next week).. made me so glad that we had trapsed from NY to NH an back again every year to see all the kids.. I would have been so sad if I had not had that time with Christopher, who knew we would lose him so soon!
Still a tough time of year, but after the death of Chris.. for so many more reasons than I had before.
Here’s to wine! And here’s to January!
November 7, 2008 2:51 pm
I think that grief is necessarily cyclical, and that certain times of year such as holidays or anniversaries inevitably have the capacity to bring home to us all that we have lost.
But I’m glad that you have come up with a strategy for easing the pain of this particular holiday. Your wine tour sounds a wonderful plan – my mouth is watering just reading everyone’s recommendations! Have a drink for me, PJ!
November 16, 2008 3:27 am
I have just found your site via the Times… we gave up trying to get pregnant via medical help over a year ago, and though I have spent hours over months over years searching the internet for any help that might be out there (even emotional, to deal with the loss infertility has brought to our lives), I have never come across the perspective of someone who’s accepted a childless life. For whatever reason, we are not (and I don’t believe we will be) able to emotionally consider adoption. I do wonder what it will be like to live without my life-long dream, and I am trying to ready myself. Thank you for sharing your thoughts as you have ‘moved on’ with your life. I suspected the pain would never go away, really. I have slowly changed as my fruitless struggle to conceive has endured… my sister said I’m not who I used to be before this experience. I can feel it… Anyway, thank you.
November 17, 2008 1:33 am
I’m glad I can help even if it’s just in offering moral support … moving in a new direction after all that infertility throws at us isn’t easy, but know that you’re not alone and you’re always welcome here. Wishing you peace and strength as you ready yourself. You may not be the same person you were, but I’m confident that you are much wiser and empathetic. You will get comfortable in your skin again. Best, Pamela