Many of the items on the list seem silly, superficial, or small, I know. And I am sure at the end of my life - and certainly in eternity - I will look back on this time very differently. But in this season of my life they feel very real and painful. The heaviness of the sense of loss I feel is almost crushing.
I also thought about the way we describe grief, in general. If I describe my sadness over the loss of my beloved grandmother 8 years ago, I would say things like, "I miss sitting at her kitchen table and hearing her tell stories from her life," or "I wish I could open up her fridge and see the jello in small glass pyrex cups she always had waiting for me." There are few words to describe the loss and pain, but somehow those little things I can describe add up to convey the magnitude of grief. And with death, I feel like we can all relate...that we can hear somebody describe those little things and feel with them the giant monster of pain within their heart.
And so it is with infertility, I think. I can only say "This is a really painful loss" in so many words, but all of these "little things" I have listed below communicate those feelings better than my few words can. The only problem is, unlike my example of death, most people cannot relate. And to them, when they read these little things, they just seem like little things. Insignificant. "Why can't she just move on? It's not the end of the world."
I am not saying the experience of loss through infertility is greater or more painful than loss through death, but that it feels very lonely. And it is yet another reason I am so thankful for the blogging community, that here, in this virtual space, I know many of you do understand what this list of "little things" communicates.
Without further ado, here are "My Losses" as I think about the possibility of not having a biological child:
- The moment of finding out, feeling that joy, and celebrating with my husband.
- Telling our family - would we drive down and tell them in person? Make a phone call? Wait for a family event? Getting to see their joyful reaction. Talking about the baby & pregnancy with our moms.
- Telling our friends. Seeing their joy. Even making a Facebook announcement.
- Reading pregnancy books. Learning about the miracle of a new life growing. Reading about the development week by week, day by day. Reading things aloud to my husband.
- Seeing my belly grow. My husband would love watching this. Taking pictures as it grows. Seeing his joy. How would I carry a belly - “all belly” or “all over?” Would my belly be small or large?
- Experiencing the discomfort. I don’t really want to be sick and uncomfortable, but it seems like part of the miracle. Part of the story of me and my child. Knowing it is worth it. Having my own “pregnancy woes and stories” to tell.
- Seeing the baby via ultrasound. Going to appointments with my husband. Sharing that excitement and amazement.
- Buying maternity clothes. Superficial, but I always looked forward to it. Would I be a cute pregnant lady?
- Feeling the baby move. Experiencing that intimacy. Talking to the baby. Praying for the baby with my hands on my belly.
- Finding out the gender. Calling our family.
- Giving birth. So much tied into this one. How to even put it to words? I feel like as a woman I have a biological urge and desire to do this. I don’t want the pain, so to speak, but I want the whole experience - even with the pain. I see births on TV and I bawl. It is an amazing, life changing moment. One day you are carrying a life inside of you, and then your whole world changes and you get to see and hold that baby in your arms. Having a “birth story.” Staying in the hospital with my husband. Our families meeting the baby, holding the baby.
- Seeing our physical & personality traits in our child. What would our child look like? Hearing people say, “She has your nose” or “Were you tall as a toddler, too?”
- Seeing our family members in our child. Maybe even family members who have passed away. My dad would examine the child’s feet to see if he had our feet. Or would she have curly hair like my mother in law? A long torso like my Grandma & me? Crazy tall like so many in my husband’s family? All the things we always wondered and talked about....and have to stop wondering and talking about.
- Feeling like the “family line” is carrying on.
- Breastfeeding. Getting that “bonding experience” with the baby. I know not everyone is able to breastfeed, but women who do often are sad when they have to wean - I want to get to try. (I know some people try to do this even with an adopted child, but I can’t imagine doing this - who knows, though).
- Living in a world where most people experience pregnancy/birth/having biological children - and I want to, but can’t. There are reminders everywhere.
- Getting pregnancy announcements. Would this ever not sting?
- Hearing people make comments about their children/ future children and having to stop making our own (ie “Our child will definitely have blue eyes,” “Maybe we could have a red head,” “I hope our child is organized and clean like you.”) But everyone else talks like this.
- Having things happen in a predictable, traditional timeline. Start the nursery, have a shower, and generally know when to expect the baby.
- Sharing in this experience of womanhood. Instead of getting to talk about it with others, I would feel like an outsider as I have to hear their experiences.