*Warning, this is a LONG post. I've actually been working on it since May. I would get frustrated and add to it, then calm down and edit it some more. With the return of my recent demons I became determined to finish this post and hopefully be able to move beyond these issues.
I love telling people we are looking to adopt. I don't mind telling people that we are infertile, I can even joke about it (we have no sperm in our marriage!). But that's about all I can do. I wish I could find the words to describe our infertility, how it makes us feel, how it has changed us and how it affects our day to day life. Maybe if I could talk about it, then people could understand us better, why we have hard days, what causes them, why I sometimes get angry and why I sometimes (okay, all the time) get offended so easily.
A few years ago I dropped into a deep, dark place. I wasn't a mother and thought my life was over. What was the point of living if I couldn't be a mother? I wasn't happy. I would go days with endless crying and other days just feeling numb so I wouldn't cry. It was hard to function. When I was around people I was angry, mean, hurtful, (please continue this list as you like). I thought I could never be happy again, unless I was a mother, but who would give a baby to a bitter person like me?
One of the biggest things that helped turn my life around was joining some support groups. I started meeting other people like me. They too couldn't have babies, and therefore their dreams couldn't come true. I heard stories very similar to mine and stories that were more painful than mine. But I also gleamed hope and faith from these friends. They had found a way to move on with their lives and I could too.
Prayer, hope, faith, time and a loving husband are what pulled me through. I was able to find other reasons to be happy. I was able to restore my faith that I can still be a mother someday. I was able to repair some of the damaged relationships I had sabotaged. I was able to rejoice with my friends as I watched their dreams come true.
I have come a long ways, but infertility is not something you can ever recover from. It will always be a part of my life, it will always be my demon. I have reached the point where I can celebrate new births. I don't think I celebrate them as much as others do, but I no longer dread them. I no longer try to ignore them. I no longer fall apart when they happen. But even as I smile to welcome a new little life, silently my heart is breaking inside of me.
I think that is where some of the misunderstanding comes from. "She must be okay, or she wouldn't have come," is what I fear they say behind my back. But those milestones that pregnant women get to celebrate are road blocks that I have to navigate past. I'm okay that I can't get pregnant... until they start talking about the good moments like hearing the heart beat of the very first time, feeling them kick, seeing them move on an ultrasound and talking about their first moments in this world. Then my demons start to haunt me again.
When families around me started to grow and therefore things started to change, I became angry. They didn't do those kind of things before! They didn't own stuff like that before! I let this eat me up for a long time. I convinced myself that this stuff was happening because they loved these people more than us. It took me a long time to realize what it was really about.
Of course they didn't have toys or traditions like that before. They had no children in their lives before so what was the point. Of course things would change after babies started to enter the family, with those new additions came changes to how things were.
Each time I come to these new revelations, I just have to battle my demons. I just can't immediately accept these new understandings. They make sense and I know I should be okay, but I still have to fight my way to acceptance and peace. Sometimes it takes days and sometimes it takes weeks.
Entering into the adoption world brought so many insecurities. The first (and biggest) stress is, will a birth mom ever find us, fall in love with us, and choose us to parent her child? But those thoughts led to others and eventually I started to question EVERYTHING about myself. What do I know about being a mom? Why do I have to wait for someone to think I am good enough to raise a child? What if they don't like (insert odd quirks here) about me? What if we never get chosen? I'm not cool/pretty/smart/talented/etc. to be chosen. Why must the waiting be so long? Why must the waiting be so HARD?
I was thinking of those issues the other day and I am struggling to over come them. When we did our paperwork, the hardest thing to do was the birth mom letter. We had two pages to talk about ourselves and why we thought we could be great parents. We agonized over the letter and I think we rewrote each line about a dozen times. I kept thinking that if our families read it they would point things out that they didn't like.
After it was finished I had a few copies and a friend picked one up and started reading. My heart jumped out of my chest. I DIDN'T want her to read it. I couldn't understand why. I knew that strangers would be reading my letter and I was okay with it, but I was afraid of what this person would think. When we had family proof read it, I was terrified of what they would say. "That's not exactly true", "Why would you describe stuff that way", "Do you really do that?"
I also started to stress over what people would think when our family grew through adoption. Would they love our children just as much as they would have if they had been physically born into our family? What if biological children were loved more than our adopted children. I really struggled with this. My heart broke over the "what ifs".
Which leads to my newest battle. I just assume that people should care about how we are doing and that they should do something to show they are thinking about us. Then when that doesn't happen, I get mad and declare that I KNOW they don't like me. I have convinced myself that if people don't ask about our adoption, it's because they don't care and it has caused me such heartache. I know this isn't really true, but in my mind all I can hear is "they don't care about you." It may sound silly, but I have lost sleep over this.
After stewing over this for, well probably near to FOREVER, I realized something. Maybe it's hard to talk about the unknown. Maybe it's hard to speculate about something that isn't a guarantee. Maybe they don't want to get our hopes up and give us false hope. Maybe they DO care, but they don't know how to show it.
I've been stewing over this new concept for a few weeks now. It makes sense, or at least I know it should. But I think I have lived with this self doubt for so long that I can't shake it off yet. I've spent so long telling myself that no one cares that I think I have come to believe it. I'm trying to change my way of thinking, but those doubts creep right back in.
And yet each day as this battle goes on, I seem to gain a little ground. Sometimes its the actions of others that gives me understanding. Sometimes it is me, finally succumbing to the will of the Lord.
Sometimes it is a matter of sincere, deep, and long prayers just asking for this burden to be taken from me. I have felt those prayers being answered. I've had moments where I thought "what if..." Then I obsess over it. "If I could just have this experience, I would be okay." And yet I know those are experiences I can't have. So then I just ask for the desire to be taken from me. And it has worked. I'm not asking for the desire of motherhood to be taken, just moments, like hearing heartbeats.
Infertility is not going to break me. I am learning to live with it, learning to deal with the heartache it brings into my life. Some days it doesn't affect me and some days I still have moments where it paralyzes me, but I think I have finally reached the point where I don't revolve around it every waking (and sleeping) moment of my life. Infertility has become a part of who I am, but I don't need to let it be the only thing that I am.
17 hours ago