I never understood grief. I still don’t really understand it. I’m starting to realize I’ve been living in grief for a very long time. Since the embryos were lost I’ve been writing a lot. I’ve been going back to the beginning of our journey and the memories and emotions are flooding back in.
I’m looking at myself and my husband like characters in a film because it’s a little easier. It’s easier to think that wasn’t me going through that. It’s easier to think that another couple almost lost their marriage.
I’m also looking back and re-feeling a lot of those experiences despite my best efforts to shield myself from… myself.
I was very much hurting all of those years and I responded to people in a way that I’m not proud of. But in a way, I can’t blame myself for reacting the way I did. I didn’t even know I was grieving. I didn’t know what I was feeling. All I knew was my life was completely out of my hands. Any situation that could be stressful was blown up in my mind. I didn’t realize I was carrying a weight so heavy that even if a mouse climbed on my back I would crumble.
Beyond dealing with my own grief, I did not realize others were grieving around me. How could I? I could barely see what was happening inside of me. I had no extra space for anyone else.
I look back now and can see how everyone around us felt the grief and dealt with it in their own way. And then they had to deal with me. I was short (in stature and in attitude). If someone criticized me for being distant, I pretty much told them to fuck off. I had no room in my soul to decipher anyone else’s pain. I could only feel my own. In fact, I looked around and saw everyone else as happy and in no pain. I can see that differently now.
I can only imagine how our friends and family have dealt with our infertility. I’m not talking about how they dealt with us, I’m talking about how they dealt with their own loss through our infertility. I mean, Justin and I both struggled and changed. Our parents didn’t recognize us. I’m sure they don’t understand their feelings about it either. Their kids are going through infertility and there is nothing they can do about it. They can make suggestions but ultimately they feel completely helpless. Who knows, maybe they even felt responsible. Was it my genetics that I passed onto my child…is that why they can’t have children? (The answer is no… no one is to blame.)
I remember when I was a child talking to my mom about when she would be a grandmother. “When you are a grandma, will you take my kids on trips?” “Will you teach them how to ride a horse?” And I always wondered, what would my parents be like as grandparents. It was always in the back of my mind from the time I was a child. I’m sure it was in the back of their minds as well. It’s human nature to look toward your future generations. It is ingrained in us. So when we couldn’t have children not only were our own dreams crushed, but our families dreams were crushed as well.
Then I see our brothers. Though brothers probably don’t dream of the day they would become uncles, they have probably thought about their children and their relationship with their cousins. I honestly don’t know because men don’t have those conversations. They keep those thoughts locked deep in their subconscious. Way below sports, sex, and career… and a thousand other things.
Personally I was very close to my cousins and loved my childhood with them. Many of my cousins are my best friends to this day. My brother and I didn’t have to discuss our expectations that our children would be close because we knew internally that we wanted our children to have our childhood. No matter the distance our children would be close.
So what happens when we can’t produce the other half of that cousin equation? Not only are our dreams crushed as potential parents but our dream of being close to the cousins is crushed. Will we remain close to our brothers? Will we remain close to our parents? We have nothing to give them but ourselves. There is no cute mini-sheila or mini-justin to break the in-law tension that occasionally happens. It’s just us. Our raw grieving selves.
I remember thinking all of this through in the midst of infertility, but not really putting it together in my mind as grief. We couldn’t be there to support our family through their own grief because ours was too intense. We couldn’t even be there for each others grief. We were each in it alone. We didn’t even see them as having to grieve this. Not until now really.
Our relationships with our families even now with our children have been defined by our infertility journey. A lot of things were said that can’t be taken back. Feelings were hurt. There is still tension. There is a different kind of closeness. The wounds of infertility have forever affected the relationships I have with my husband, our families, and close friends.
I can look back at that time and apologize for every moment I reacted based on my inability to understand what I was feeling. My inability to see my depression and grief.
How do you say, “I’m sorry for how I behaved when I was sad.”
You don’t really want to apologize for your own sadness but there are wounds that will take a very long time to heal from the words you spoke. Is sadness a legitimate excuse? Why didn’t I take care of myself better? Why didn’t I go to a therapist sooner? Why didn’t I get on depression medication sooner? Grief is an asshole that comes and goes as it pleases. One day you’re fine, the next you’re a train wreck.
I know that people avoided me during this time in my life. I was a different person. I wish I could have avoided me. I wish I could have avoided the entire situation! But ultimately it shaped me into the woman I am today… and I wouldn’t change that. It shaped our marriage in a way that has created a powerful strong connection today. A marriage that survives trauma and continues to survive it… MUST be strong.
This experience created the family I have today. I can see clearly now the rain is gone. Without the rain I wouldn’t be sitting in my sweaty workout clothes feeding my sweet baby spoonfuls of hummus (which inevitably end up all over her body) and typing away like I am some sort of professional “writer”.
You guys, infertility is a shit show. It is a mess. It won’t kill you physically, but it will crush you emotionally. How the hell do I write that in a way that will get across to a population that is so vastly different from me? Hopefully you get what I’m saying here because I’m STILL lost in the confusion of grief right now. I’m fairly certain I will be grieving for a lifetime. I cannot procreate as nature intended. Luckily I can procreate as God intended.
By the grace of God and my and Justin’s tenacity as a couple and as individuals, I am a mother and he is a father. I have the most incredible children and I am forever grateful… and still grieving the loss of our children that will never be. Our current children cannot replace those that were lost. They are individuals that were meant to be in our life. I cherish them for exactly who they are and who they will become. I am loving every moment of their growth. Even when my son asks me why I have a big butt. I love the hell out of that kid. More than I could have ever imagined I could love ANYONE. And my daughter… she is a light in my world and has brought me through some serious shit in the past year.
My kids aren’t here to fix my grief. They are here to grow with me and love with me. I pray I get that message across to them clearly. That is an entire post in itself. Chat with you soon!