Wednesday, December 16, 2009

pieces of a week

Because I'm up to my eyeballs in writing at the moment, a bulleted list will have to do here:

  • After hearing nothing from the Shared Risk program for two weeks (as opposed to last time, when they emailed me within 48 hours), I called my clinic to discover that, oops! They forgot to submit the application. Not a big deal, really. They faxed it in yesterday and we should hear back in 3-5 business days. I'm trying to remain zen about this, as we have two more tries funded either way. It would take some of the pressure off, though.
  • Last Tuesday night I went downtown to the kids' hospital to visit a family whose 3-month old foster daughter was having surgery. Keeping the details confidential, it wasn't a life-threatening situation, by any means, but surgery for your child is scary no matter how low the risk level is. I heard the parents' story: how long they tried to have children, how many surgeries the mom had for endometriosis, how they took home one foster child only to have her removed by the state a few weeks later, and then how they received their older foster daughter, now thirteen months old, a short time later. And then how, ten months later, the state contacted them to say that the biological mom had another child (small aside: can you imagine? Giving birth to 2 children, 10 months apart? My hoo-ha hurts just thinking about it) - and that, if they weren't willing to take this second child, the first might be removed in favor of a home which would house both children. So, naturally, they said yes, and now they have 2 foster daughters whom they are in the process of adopting, and who are only 10 months apart. I thought about the biological mom, who is homeless. And I didn't think about how unfair it is that some people can have more children than they want: I thought about how profoundly complicated fertility is, both on the in-fertile and the over-fertile sides. "Too many" unwanted children is just as tragic as the ones you want desperately but can't have. And I thanked God for foster families.
  • That was not really a short bullet, was it?
  • But this one will be even longer. I also spent some hours this week with a couple in the midst of their second stillbirth. There are no words for this, except to say that it was a very holy encounter. They lost a child several years ago at 20 weeks, and this one at nearly the same time - and although they have a lovely, healthy, and delightful daughter, we all know that nothing can fix the grief of these deaths. I asked them how it felt this time, and the mom said quickly that it was easier for her, this second time, and when I asked why, she said plainly, "Because this time I know that it won't actually kill me," which opened a huge window into the depth of her pain at the first loss. I thought about the phone call from the nurse to tell me that my beta number was not as it should be, and I remember thinking, "maybe my heart will stop in the middle of her talking and I won't have to stand up and live through this." We talked a long time about prayer and God, and whether anyone is really listening to us, and they both said that the only thing anyone can really say now is something like, "this sucks, and I'm sorry," and that there just isn't much more that makes any sense. And I thought about how, when I posted the news of our bad beta, the only thing I could stand to read in the comments was, "I'm sorry," and absolutely nothing more, and how when people said, "I know how you feel," I wanted to reach through the computer and rip out their throats. I said almost nothing for an hour, because sometimes there isn't much to say. I would not have really known that two years ago.
  • On Sunday morning, a mom asked me why we had mentioned the couple above in the prayers, and I shared their news, which they had given permission for us to do. She shook her head and tears welled up in her eyes, and within a few seconds, she had said something which most people might not recognize, but which tweaked my infertility radar - and when I said, "I know what that is like," we realized that we are on a similar road. I would not have said that a year ago.
  • Sometimes, oddly enough, I am grateful for infertility. Because, in spite of all its attendant shitty-ness, it has broken my heart open enough to listen more carefully to the losses experienced by other people.
  • I wish there had been another way to learn that.


  1. Wow, IF sure gives you a lot of options, but they are all a nasty process. Procedures, adoption, fostering, all of it is heartwrenching and overwhelming. And I wouldn't pretend to know how anybody else feels because while we share a common thread, it's just a thread, and everyone's journey is so very different. I agree with the idea that infertility makes one a better person, more open, more sensitive, more appreciative. And I agree that what it took to get here sucks. But I just heard an IFer (whose due date was yesterday) mention that she finally appreciates all the hurt that she's been through. It was hopeful - may we all feel that way someday.

  2. Incredible post. I just had a m/c at 8 weeks and the one thing that I took away is that it really didn't kill me. I never knew I'd be strong enough to deal with such loss. Infertility definitely gives you tougher skin. But I'm with you- I sure wish there had been some other way to teach me those lessons.

  3. WOW, beautiful, insightful, thoughtful and just heartfelt. Thank you for sharing.

  4. What an amazingly accurate and perfectly descriptive analogy of what inferility can do: "Break your heart open." Thanks for this insightful post!!

  5. This is lovely. Heartbreaking, but lovely.

  6. I agree - in some ways, I'm grateful for infertility too. I have a much better understanding of the losses others experience, and I'm not afraid to sit with them through the pain. I'm a therapist and I know I'm a better therapist because of my experiences with infertility.

    Thank you for sharing.