12.03.2008

On Joy and Sorrow

Adoption does not cure infertility. I had kind of assumed being a mother would purge those biological urge feelings once and for all. It doesn't. I'm thinking that there must be a God given imperative to create life in our genetics. I can't explain away that little spark of jealousy and anger and disappointment that I get when others are pregnant with their 1st child. I need to grieve that I will not have a child that looks like me. I grieve that I will not be their caregiver before they draw their first breath. I grieve that my womb has been labeled "inhospitable" for life to grow.

The logical part of me does not even want a baby. I don't even want to deliver a child. Thanks, Nicola and Katherine, for showing me that I am not missing anything by not giving birth!

For many, many years I could not/would not attend a baby shower. How could I bring myself to go to "Babies R Us" and pick out some cute little outfit? I tried once and ended up sobbing in the car for 1/2 an hour afterward. So, I'm sorry to whomever was pregnant during the "dark years" of infertility. I couldn't even BUY you anything, much less attend your shower. I couldn't even think about you without tearing up.

Once you had your babies, I was fine. I didn't want YOUR baby.... I wanted MY baby. And, once you were on your 2nd child, I was mostly fine. I don't know what made the difference between the 1st and 2nd child, but it mattered.

Mostly now, that infertility sorrow is buried pretty deeply under LIFE. Life does go on. If people live far or I am not close to them, I am able just to be happy (tra la la) for them and not think about it. I am still blind-sided from time to time, but I am no longer a slave to those feelings. I know that they will pass, and that I shouldn't be afraid of them. Crying with Lee for 10 minutes makes the world right again.

I had thought that I could purge those feelings once and for all, that there would be only joy for those who give life, but I see now that it doesn't work that way. I'm way to human, and we humans have feelings... even the yucky ones, even the ones we don't want to have. I have learned to handle those feelings better now, and not let them lead me on a path to despair. I am able to have joy for my friends and sorrow for me at the same time. Then the sorrow goes away, and I'm left with joy and peace. Praise God.

13 comments:

Marlo said...

Well said Chris.

Sue L. said...

Disclaimer: Chris, it is not my intention to compare my story or my feelings with you in any way. I know that I do NOT know how you feel, and I don’t mean to sound like I do. Having said that . . .

Your honesty is amazing. I was struck by your comment about still being ‘blind-sided’ at times. Although my story is very different, I understand how long-buried pain can surface and knock you on your butt without any warning. Twenty years ago (yes, I am really old!) our first child was born with a malignant brain tumor ~ that child, our son David, died when he was 1 day old. In the next year or so I had two miscarriages. Life was starting to seem pretty dang unfair. I remember standing in the check out line at the grocery store one day, behind a lady with several children. The kids were being noisy and obnoxious, and I almost lost it. I wanted to scream at her and scream at God and ask WHY? Why did she get all those children and I got none? Not that I wanted her children, but I wanted MINE. It took everything I had to get through that line and out to my car before I dissolved in tears. We were eventually blessed with two beautiful, healthy daughters. And they are both absolutely wonderful and amazing. But I still remember the years of pain. And I still want my son. And it still hits me in the face at times. And that’s okay. It’s not that I want people to feel sorry for me, and I don’t feel sorry for you. But I do deeply respect your grief and your sorrow. Please know that sharing your life on this blog is making a difference. It made a difference to me today, and I am grateful. I pray that most days will find you rejoicing in your human-ness and living in the joy and peace. And during the times when you are blind-sided by the sorrow, may you remember that God is holding you and loving you, and all shall be well.
Sue ~ The Bag Lady

debbie said...

Chris,
I have followed your journey from day one as you church family. I have also followed it because your events leading to your adoption were much like mine. Couldn't have children, medically could not be determined what was wrong...and yes I was not perfect, I begged, blamed and questioned God during all of it. Then my husband and I decided enough medical intervention and we decided adoption would not work for us because of personal fears. Have you ever heard the saying God will not bring you to it if he cannot bring you through it? Well it's true. I finally let go of all those past guilts, angers and hurt feelings and said "that's it, I'm okay with being childless and God answered...I have one (and only one) beautiful daughter as His sign to me that all would be well. You have 2 great children (H is in my daughter's Sunday School class) and if you just let go of that past hurt and trust in God you will see how much they can give you to help you though this. The holidays are always the toughest, I know so just hang in there and if you need to talk to an "old lady" about it, give me a shout. I am usually hanging around or getting the attendance books out to the classes. I am not a doctor but I do know the hurt you have been through. Take care and they may not be your biological children but they couldn't love you more...I see it in their eyes!

Anonymous said...

Chris,
I DO know what you are feeling, been there, done that. I know the "I can't go to a baby shower" thought/feeling. I went to my cousins shower, heard the "moms" talking about "remember when" stories, lost it and left after 10 minutes. I was not part of that club and didn't belong.

But then Bradley came into my life and it didn't matter that I didn't grow him... he was MY child. You will get there, you are early in the parent process.

You will never not think "what if", but it gets easier to accept that you were put here to be the parent to YOUR children that God intended for you to love. I firmly believe that God wanted me to be Brad's mom, that is my purpose.

Just to know it gets better... my good friend was pregnant 2 years after I adopted Brad. She asked me to be with her in the delivery room. I did it. It was awesome. It wasn't me giving birth (thank God after I saw that), but I saw the miracle of life and I was ok with it. I embraced it, experienced it through her, I was overjoyed for her, truly happy that another woman got to experience being a mother... and it didn't matter that I couldn't experience it the way she did. Because when the day is over, all that really counts, is that you love your children to the best of your ability.

You do need to grieve the "loss of a child" because that is what this monster, infertility, does. It takes away your hopes and dreams. But just as quickly, God shows you the plan you just didn't think was yours. YOU ARE A MOM!! You are part of "the club". Welcome.

Julie

kangaj1 said...

Chris, we have similar stories. Our son was conceived through infertility treatment, and after we had him the treatment stopped working when we tried for #2. In total, we had worked with infertility treatments for 6 years. When we decided to adopt, we also decided we were done with treatments forever. I too know the pain of hearing others' "good news" and not wanting to go to baby showers or to church on Mother's Day. At this point we hope God might allow us to get pregnant "on our own" without treatment. Thanks for sharing your heart--God will redeem what you "lost" for His glory. What a joy that you get to parent Y and H--they are truely beautiful and need parents who will love them well. You are just that!
Melissa

ABG said...

Chris,
Thank you. And amen.

I love that you're acknowledging that adoption doesn't "cure" infertility no matter how passionately we love our kids. It doesn't. And thank you for pointing out that grieving isn't a sign that you haven't let go, it's a sign of inner health and connectedness.

I never went through the baby shower angst, but I hate it when people expect me to be "done" with the feelings of grief and loss that I've sustained through infertility.

Bethany said...

Chris,

WOW! Thanks for your transparency and honesty. It is such a blessing to those of us in similar situations!

The McEvil One said...

You've only seen me cry once.

This almost made me cry...at work when I read this @ lunch!

lorismusings said...

You have a very open, honest, and beautiful way of expressing yourself. I can relate to your pain, but for different reasons.

I, too, dealt with infertility, but was finally able to conceive. I always feel guilty admitting that to someone who was not as fortunate as I was. I understand the ache that you feel somewhere deep inside because you want a child.

These days my ache is for my son - one that God allowed me to have. My second born who I was only allowed to have for fourteen years and eight months. Everywhere I see moms and their sons and I feel like I could curl up in a dark corner and ball my eyes out for hours. I find myself being angry with God and wondering, "Why me?" I can still hear the police chaplain saying that the three of us were going to have to be there for each other and I wanted to scream at him that there were four of us. And ever since that day nothing has seemed quite right.

What I find frustrating is that I can only share my pain with my husband and God. My mom can't really emotionally handle my sharing with her. It makes her worry about me and she isn't helpful. My good friends just don't get it. They want to understand and sympathize, but they can't. They haven't lost a child. As much as I have tried to be honest and open and share so that they would understand they are not able. It feels pretty lonely sometimes. I am sure you can relate to that.

The other thing that absolutely floors me is that people actually think that I should be getting "over" it. It has been two years and 4 months since our son died. I refuse to pretend that everything is alright when I am having a bad day.

God has blessed me incredibly. I find it annoying that this is true, but we really do not experience God's love and mercy and what He wants to teach us and how He wants to refine us until we hit rough water. Why is that? :-)

I am glad that you have joy. I do too, and I really wondered if it would be possible. It is hard to put into words, but there is sweetness in dealing with grief. That sweetness ONLY comes from knowing the Lord and having Him carry you through many days.

Thank you for sharing. I appreciate the reminder that there are many others that I cross paths with who are also dealing with their own losses.

I know in my heart that God has a purpose and a plan for everything He ordains. I do not claim to understand it. I know that I have two little Indian girls sleeping upstairs right now who wouldn't be if our son were alive. Does that take away the pain? No, but it is a blessing and softens the pain a little.

You will be in my prayers tonight.

Sue L. said...

To Lorismusings~
you said some things that I wish I had said in my long diatribe above. I only held my son for a few moments. I can not imagine how it would feel to lose a son after 14 years, 8 months. I agree that it is SO hard when others think you should be 'over it'. We are never over it, never. When we were blessed with our first daughter, I was horrified to hear people infer that she 'replaced' our son, and now everything was all better. No, it was not all better. Yes, I had a beautiful little girl, and she was and is an incredible joy and blessing. But she did NOT replace David, nor did she magically erase our loss. (And I do feel guilty when I talk about my loss, because we now have two daughters--and so many others are never able to conceive.) I have been incredibly blessed and lucky to have supportive parents and friends who still acknowledge that my son did exist, even though he was physically on this earth for only one day. My parents even put David on the family tree on their wall at home. Thank you for that, Mom and Dad! So yes, I feel amazingly blessed and I do believe that there is a purpose for everything, even if God doesn't fill us in on the details (which I find annoying at times!). But, I still miss my son. Even after 20 years I am not 'over it'.
Lori, Thank you for sharing. You and your family will be in my prayers tonight.
Sue

lorismusings said...

Thanks Sue. I appreciate your thoughts and prayers. :-) It is always hard to share everything you want to say in a short note isn't it?!

I am always telling people that we have more in common with each other than we realize. Lots of types of grieving can be understood by those who have had a loss - it doesn't have to be exactly the same for us to be able to empathyze and love that person in their valley. We just don't always pay attention to what is going on in other people's lives.

Yarnsmith said...

Wow! Thank you all for your fine comments.

I was thinking the same thing, Lori, that we may not fully understand exactly how someone feels, but we're all in this thing together, and we've all got some grief and loss somewhere.

If we "get over" our grief, it seems like we'd lose the ability to experience joy as well. Can't just turn off one set of feelings because "it's time".

I realized through your comments that I'm grieving something I never had. I'm grieving an idea. Some of you are grieving people... whether they were in the world for 1 day or 14 years.

God calls us to community. Maybe this is where the bearing each others' burdens comes in. Maybe if we listen more and talk less... pray more and be more real with each other...

Anonymous said...

I knew a lot of this was going on though you never told me. It is such a deep hurt. I'm sorry our lives are so ridiculously different, and I'm so happy for the healing that the kids are bringing to you. Your cousins miss you, and so do I.
-Aunt G