A sad day

Today I wandered the streets of beautiful Copenhagen and encountered so many baby strollers. They seemed to be everywhere, taunting me. One tall blonde Viking wearing his kiddo in a Baby Bjørn, a la Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover, was blocking the stoop to our flat as I feverishly tried to flee the scene around Nørreport.

I’ve entered a new phase in the way I relate to my fertility struggles. This is what my infertility feels like, right now…

Martin and I started trying for a baby some time ago. We were happy. And so damn excited. I have craved a baby my entire life. And I had found the perfect guy who I could make one with. The sweetest soul I have ever met was going to be the father of my babies. I felt stinking lucky.

So Martin and I cleared space in our hearts for the baby that would come to us.

And we waited and waited. And we’re still waiting. But our child hasn’t come home. Sadness overwhelms me because I keep missing my baby.

I feel forever eluded. I feel homesick, sitting here at home on the sofa. Because our child isn’t here. And I don’t like being here with these heavy arms. That have nothing to hold.

Author Marc Sedaka wrote a book that Martin read called “What He Can Expect When She’s Not Expecting.” I love that Marc with all my heart. He gets it. He gets us. Because he shared something that made me feel understood. He said, “Men want children, but women need children. They need a baby like they need oxygen and water.”

Yes. That’s exactly it. Being a mom is not a “nice-to-have” feature of the life I planned out for myself – it’s a need-to-have. I say this with a heart full of love and admiration for women who are Child-Free, either by choice or by drawing the short stick. I sometimes wish I was more like them. But I am wired a certain way – with an aching, heart-tugging need to nurture some sweet little humans. An urging that has only swelled since I identified it at the age of 3. And while the thought may be grotesque to some (and it certainly stung my husband when I said it aloud in a crying fit after my fourth cancelled IVF cycle), but it feels hauntingly true: that I’d rather be dead at 50 than childless at 50. For me, Hammy, a life without children is a life so gapingly incomplete. A life with a huge omission, ungraced by G*d’s promise to me. Yes, Martin is enough – and will always be my everything, but I need to give him a baby. And I need him to give me one. That not happening is the most terrifying thought to grip my brain.

The grief I carry is because I am short on oxygen. I’m lightheaded. And there is a huge hole in my heart.

xo

It’s hard to know what infertility feels like, until you’ve faced it.

It is impossible to know what infertility feels like, until you’ve faced it. Does anyone know why that is? I had the realization a little while ago, and the statement isolates a sad feeling for someone like me who longs to be ‘understood.’ Until a person has been in our shoes, he or she cannot fathom that curious mix of loss, fear, hope, panic, desire and grief that we struggling ones feel.

I find proof of this impossibility to fully ‘grasp it’ within my own history, upon reflecting on how I processed infertility six years ago, when I had a dear friend facing it. I felt sad for her, I felt distressed for her, but I couldn’t always fully understand her. I tried and tried. I really did, but it was always…close, but no cigar. My compassion was not the infinite river it should have been. It flowed freely, but it came clouded with confusion. I was illiterate in her language. So I just couldn’t fathom her journey close enough to truly walk with her.

And I feel very guilty today that my friend had to face people like me, years back, in her hour of need. All these blank faces, with their pity and love and blameless ignorance. Those, on the other side of infertility, often try to be our fixers. Bless their hearts. Our problem-solvers. Our solution-getters. Tossing words out like “relax” and “cheer up” and “strong” and “adopt” that softly cover the receiver in stings. How clueless we are that we are not helping.

I’ve done all that. I think. I can’t remember. The details are fuzzy, but I imagine I may have been deeply incomplete to my treasured, struggling, grief-filled friend.

I know better now.

I entered the secret society of sufferers. We, who are dealing with infertility. We, who deal with people who try to get it – who really do, but can’t. It’s not their fault. We need to love them anyways. And we need to take care of each other. We are the only ones who get it. Who understand each other.

We’re sisters in this fight.