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How Much Is Lost?

February 9, 2008

This week in unsung lullabies we are going through two chapters- 3 and 4.

These are all about acknowledging what has been lost in this journey and while reading the words I found written in this book– they were words written in this very blog over the months.  Words that I’ve seen written in countless other blogs of both men and women dealing with infertility.  In some posts the tone is reflective and in others full of anguish as loss slaps a couple in the face and hope is snatched away.

The authors start out chapter three with comparing life to a jigsaw puzzle in that there is a whole picture that is made up of different parts.  When only a few pieces are missing from our picture– it can still be seen and things are still recognizable.  The thing is with infertility— is that something so vital to the core of who people are is missing.  Yes, there are those who don’t have the problems or face the uncertainty who say that its a small piece…a corner piece at the edge of the puzzle that really doesn’t matter, but we all know that isn’t true.  Last week we reflected on events in our lives that build our individual stories…the parts that make the whole.  In that reflection I saw how important it was for me to see my husbands path to healing from the absence of his father.  I saw how important to me that my Grandmother get the chance to actually “be” a grandmother with no responsibility other than loving the children.  I even realized how much I’d emotionally invested over the years in watching myself grow with child, teaching, loving and watching them grow into members of society. 

And with infertility all that is lost.  Yes, we may beat the odds and have a child of our own and should that happen I’d be more than excited and happy–but the truth is it will be tainted with infertility.  That doesn’t necessarily make it a “bad” taint but I’ve seen the writings of those women who are pregnant after IF and it is different than those women who’ve not had the issues.  The planning is completely different–characterized by hesitation rather than pure expectation.

As of right now we’ve given up.  Completely.  To be totally honest and to not edit myself in my own posting–the biggest (and the first realized) loss that we are really working on now  is the loss of sexual intimacy.  Which is something I realized about a year and a half ago.  It really did hit me like a ton of bricks and that is when I went seeking out the IF community.  I had to know that it wasn’t just us.  I had to know that I wasn’t the only one who felt like our child wouldn’t be concieved in a moment of love– but that it would be concieved out of obligation. 

“I am due to ovulate soon, we should have sex”

“Are you ovulating yet, well maybe we should have sex just in case it happens early”

“OHH.. looks like it may happen today–lets make sure to get a session in”.

It had become (boring) sex, it wasn’t making love anymore. It was a means to an end–granted it is an end we both desire but still…. its not something either one of us thought would happen and it felt unnatural.

Now that we’ve given up, sex isn’t there.  We decided we want it to be the expression of love that it is supposed to be so our relationship is growing as it should but honestly I think we’re tired of it.  There really can be too much of a good thing so we are stepping back into things slowly and carefully.  It really does take a lot to not think about the conception part of things though.  Every time I swear– a few days later I think about where I am/was in my cycle and if “it” could have possibly happened.  Hubby asks when AF is due—and we both wonder until the minute flow starts.  Granted… we aren’t trying but still— sex does open up the possibility and therefore–hope—and loss–again.  Its vicious I tell ya!!!

Another big thing is that loss of my sense of belonging.  I have alot of friends, many of whom are married and have their first child already, or are pregnant expecting their first (or second as many are on at this point) so even as a couple we can’t relate to them.  We don’t know about their experiences with pregnancy, birth or children and they certainly do not know about the only experience we have with conception–which is of course the non-conception aka infertility.  Other friends are choosing not to have children and are actively preventing so they don’t “get” our desire for children (and I suspect they don’t want to be faced with the possiblity that should they choose to have children that it just might not happen).  Other friends are still single and parenthood is far on the horizon.  So where do we belong?

Or in our families where do we belong?  On my side–Im the only one married and in any kind of position to even care for a child.  On his side his sister is married but in the preventing stage.  The other just wants to travel and is doing that with herself.   He does have a sister who is infertile but we aren’t very close to them as hubby and SIL have quite the number of years between them and by the time her father married his mother–she was already out of the house living on her own. Now its hard to cultivate the relationship because we live so many hundreds of miles apart.

As far as loss goes– don’t even get me started on the loss of control as that can be a whole separate post (and just might be in the near future).

Chapter four is interesting in that it forces us to answer the question: How can I be an adult if I don’t become a parent?

You know what I don’t even know where to begin on this.  Why?  Because as far as myself and my husband–in our hearts we are parents without children.  We have the desire and the love with no child.  We’ve invested time, emotions, money and sanity in this quest and have nothing to show for it except for heartbreak and isolation.

And you know what doesn’t help?  We aren’t considered a family because we are two.  We are considered a couple–which in no way reflects all we’ve put into becoming a “family”.  I know that this just may be my own thing (and that is perfectly alright with me) but “couple” works in the same way as “Child-free”– it kind of portrays a choice that we haven’t made willingly.

Im not worried in how I relate to my own parents (all four of them) because with one half I have no desire to relate (my father and his wife) and with the other they don’t make me feel less of an adult (my Mama and Big Daddy) because we don’t have kids yet.  I don’t have a desire to be ‘seperate’ from my mother because it was forced for so long by my father.  I am who I am if I have a child or I don’t—but I feel like I am less than I wanted to become without becoming a mother.  I really don’t know what to do about that though.  How do I transfer that desire to something else?  How can I commit fully to whatever that may be when I know in my heart (at this moment) that it is merely a substitution for what I can’t have?

The author does say at the end of the chapter that when one longs for a child of their own–its difficult to imagine that there is anything that will fulfill that need…and isn’t that the truth?  The author also says that when we get past that infertility  isn’t the definition of who I am but just apart of me—that I’ll be able to move forward and I think find that “thing” which fulfills me.
I certainly hope so.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2008 8:32 am

    You are blowing me away girl. I think I have a good take on the subject matter, and then you go and do posts like these. 😉 Maybe you should consider reviewing books and movies for a living?

  2. theviolethooker permalink
    February 11, 2008 5:55 pm

    I had a friend who finally had a child after years of trying and she said they refused to have anymore in case their love life returned to how it was before she had her son. My BIL and his partner went through years of problems and finally had a girl through IVF. She is pregnant again though naturally and they were both blown away after years of trying on their own. I hope things work out for you.

  3. mahleestone permalink
    February 13, 2008 8:29 pm

    Great post. Couples not being considered a family is a huge pet peeve of mine. Even before we started TTC I used the phrase “family” to refer to my husband and I. We’re building a life together and to me that’s family. And frankly I feel I can define it any way I like…at least for me and my family 🙂

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