the other blog

no, i haven’t forgotten to post.  no, i didn’t get busy.  i took it down.  i took it down because right now we are no longer bringing a little one home.  in a nutshell: we hit a snag a month ago and have had to indefinitely postpone our plans to adopt.  i had thought that perhaps i’d continue to write about our efforts to grow our family but the simple truth of the matter is that i don’t want to talk about it anymore.  our lot in life (at least in this area) seems to be riddled with twists and turns that eventually dead end.  while we do hope to continue on, i’m not sure anymore that i want to document all of it.   concise stories with a happy ending are more fun to write and make for much better reading.

there is however, something i really do want to talk about that is very near and dear to my heart.  i would like to share more about what it is like to be a woman and be infertile.  marco and i made the decision to try to adopt because of infertility –  something that affects one in six couples.  if you are reading this, chances are a woman you know is dealing with this.  chances are, in spite of how close to her you are, you may not know that she is dealing with this.  it is an issue that, unfortunately,  is little discussed or talked about.  i hope that someone will read my sporadic series of posts. not because i feel that i am so articulate and eloquent but because i feel that i have something to say.  i’m not the only one saying it; but considering the lack of local support available for women in my situation, it would appear that no one is listening.

as an infertile couple we found very little local support for an issue that has been one of the  most painful we’ve dealt with both as individuals and as a couple.  none of the churches we’ve attended in the past offered any kind of support group for couples who cannot have a child.  there are groups for divorcees, groups for widowers, groups for singles, and groups for just about every other chapter in life but the infertile couple.   unless you have been there, you have no idea what it feels like to grieve an empty nursery.  i have often thought that if perhaps other people (women especially) knew what it was like and knew how to empathize and reach out,  infertile women might then be spared the additional grief of having to suffer alone, suffering numerous insensitive comments and suggestions however well-intentioned they might be.    i think the majority of us have found a listening ear somewhat anonymously in the safe haven of a private chat room.  i don’t know what i would do without my small group of ladies online, few of whom i have actually met in person (i know they read here, ladies please stand so you can be recognized. thank you!  )  for the past six years or so they have stood with me and my husband (albeit virtually) as we’ve progressed on this journey that seems to have no end.

i had thought about logging all the posts in a separate blog but at this point i don’t know if i have enough material or the time to commit to writing about one subject on a regular basis. i had not wanted to have an “infertility” post category on the sidebar of my everyday blog.  i don’t like being identified as infertile.  much as i would like to ignore it though, it is a huge part of my life and the driving force behind much of what i do.  we moved to our beloved older home with a smaller yard when we realized that the home on a quarter acre, bought with lots of children in mind, was too large.  while we still plan for a family, a large family is no longer within realistic reach.  i became a gardener because planning and growing a garden was therapy in the midst of frustration over our inability to conceive.  our little doggies have provided the much needed opportunity to nurture something small and warm.   they occupy an otherwise empty lap.

while it sounds like i am painting a dismal picture, we have been able to be happy in spite of the fact that life at this point hasn’t turned out the way we had hoped.  we’ve traveled together. we live for friday nights where we uncork a bottle of wine, cook together, and listen to jazz. we love our lazy saturday mornings lingering over several pots of tea.  we are soul mates and have created a life together that is almost idyllic.  it is just that every so often, usually at the most unexpected times, we’re reminded of what we had hoped for and the reality of infertility hits us with a sudden jolt.  it is usually in small, ordinary ways that most other couples would not even notice.  a parent in the line ahead of me at the grocery store, buying the makings of a birthday party.  a poster at the mall advertising a photographer – a poster of mommy and daddy hands cradling tiny feet.  we look at things like that and wonder – “will we ever plan a party for our child?”  ” will there ever be tiny feet in our life?”  and if the answer to those questions is “no” then how will we come to terms with that?

do not look for any answers to the obvious questions, and please don’t ask.   i am not going to tell you why we are infertile.  i am not going to tell you why our plans to adopt were placed on hold.  i am not going to talk about where we plan to go from here or what sort of treatment we may or may not consider and why.  i am not going to go into whether or not i feel assisted reproductive technology is ethical or healthy.  i am not going to discuss my personal views on whether or not infertile couples should adopt, and if so, how.  i am not going to go into whether or not it is right to choose to remain childless.

i am going to talk about what it is like to attend a friend’s baby shower when you’ve waited  years to have one of your own.  i am going to talk about what it is like to wonder if you will ever frost a cake for a first birthday, or if that corner in the kitchen will ever host a highchair.  i do want to discuss why it hurts so bad to receive a pregnancy announcement when you’ve just learned that this was not your month.   i do want to discuss what it feels like to be in a group of women sharing birth stories when you have nothing to say.  i want to talk about what it is like to wait month after month, year after year, and nothing seems to change.  your prayers seem to go unanswered.  your biological time clock continues to tick.  friends move on with life as parents while you feel life has passed you by.

i would hope that if anyone reads this  they would then be mindful of those in their circle who are most likely suffering too.  if you have no idea who your infertile friend is then just take a look around you.  the next time you are in a room full of women talking about their children, a baby shower perhaps, she will most likely be the silent one, metaphorically sitting alone.  she might be sitting right next to you, but the event and conversation have isolated her the same as if she was in a corner by  herself.  talk to her.   don’t ask her if she has any children.  don’t ask her why she doesn’t have any.  don’t suggest she relax and let nature take its course.  don’t ask her why she doesn’t “just” adopt.  ask her how she is doing; take her hand, ask her how she is really doing, and then just listen.

6 Comments to “the other blog”

  1. You have stated it SO perfectly Jennifer! I so enjoy your writings! I’m waiting to see the “finish” of your kitchen (and to read about it). Keep up the good work! Love, Carole

  2. It was, for me, an overall numbing. I just got to a point where I couldn’t think about it ANYMORE. I felt I’d done nothing BUT think about it and ponder it and worry over it for YEARS. I was tired of hoping, tired of supplements, tire of miscarriages and the whole shebang. I gave up. Stopped taking temperatures, stopped thinking about it, gave it up, the END. And then I had three children in a four year span. Pregnanices that I never enjoyed because I was still bewildered by them and terrified that things would go wrong and afraid to put my heart and hopes on full blast. “Bewildered” is a great word for that time period. LOL After so many years of so many efforts – WHAT? I’m not saying these things to try and force false hopes on your or advise you in any way. I am still as bewildered today as I was then! No doctors could explain my sudden turnaround and I have decided to stop questioning it and just REJOICE and be grateful. I am thankful that I had, early on, reconciled myself to being a two-person family because I never thought I would be able to do that. I was DETERMINED to bring children into that mix! No sooner than I’d made peace with that probably not happening – there they were. My biggest regret is that I did not make a real effort to embrace and enjoy the pregnancies. It should have felt like a divine gift after my unsuccessful ones, but I was too gripped in daily terror that TODAY would be the day that something went wrong, that I just could not enjoy it until I was holding them. While I agree that support groups in churches would be worthwhile, I’m not sure how long it would have taken me to join one. It took me years to admit to myself that there was a problem.

  3. Wow. Jenny, you are so expressive, and thoughtful, and sincere, and genuine, and beautiful! Thank you for sharing what it feels like so we can TRY to understand the least little bit. I love you for that. Someday I may share this with someone who may need it. God bless you. ~Katie

  4. Jennifer, thank you for sharing your heart so beautifully. Someone I love is going through this and I feel this helps me to better understand her pain, Thank you for sharing!

  5. My husband and I went through seven years of infertility including all of the painful testing, retesting, predictions that we would never conceive etc. There were times when announcements of pregnancies, waiting in crowded doctors offices surrounded by mothers and mothers to be was enough to make me tear up or outright sob. I too got to the point where it was too painful to contemplate and just engrossed myself in domestic life anyway. We bought a 1941 fixer upper with land without worrying too much if it would always echo. After completing a PhD I discovered “women’s work” (needlework, quilting,homemaking) and was blissful for the first time in what seemed like forever. After a year and a half of this and a move to France (we moved back to the 1941 house two years later), I miraculously conceived. I too was paralyzed the whole pregnancy in a state of disbelief. Four years later it happened again, and now I have two precious boys I still can’t believe I somehow gave birth to. I still feel the intense pain of infertility all these years later and still relate more to those who are childless either by fate or by choice. The magic of your marriage is a gift many will never know. I knew my husband and I would have a magical home life regardless because we are indeed soulmates. Our pets are also in so many ways our children as well. I wish you all the best in carving out your life and hope the wonder of how it all unfolds never leaves you regardless of how things turn out. You are blessed to have your husband and to share a vision. Thank you for sharing your story, I know it’s not easy…..

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