I stared down at the question: “How has infertility affected your life? How have you processed your infertility?”
A few years ago, I don’t think I would have been able to answer that question.
Jeff and I are working on our adoption home study right now. If you missed the announcement, here it is.
The home study consists of a lot of parts, including: a lengthy 12-page questionnaire to be answered in essay format, a background check, a home inspection, a doctor’s report, and a financial disclosure statement.
It’s a lot of paperwork.
The questions are personal. And that question about infertility struck me. It caught me off guard because I saw the word. I thought about infertility, and it didn’t hurt anymore.
I realized that I am content. I know I am worthy of love and belonging despite my (in)ability to become pregnant. And I’m grateful the pain has dulled.
A few years ago, hurt hung over my head daily. With pointed reminders of my inability to get pregnant, I was always seconds away from despair. I thought about it all the time. I changed my diet. I changed my lifestyle. I visited the doctor. I took medicine. I prayed. I hoped. I wrote. Looking back now, I can see I was grieving. I needed to go through it.
But, still, my body remained unchanged.
I moved forward. I started (and finished) grad school, and I began to see that my life could mean something even without children. I made goals. Jeff did, too. And we stopped waiting to make decisions for an imaginary future. We made our lives fit us for the present.
I let go of the responsibility of getting pregnant. I let it go. And it made all the difference.
We still wanted children. We still wanted that life. But our approach felt different somehow. It gradually became less important to achieve that vision of our future through traditional means. Adoption became our Plan A — even though it took us years to process our grief to get there. We needed to grow and change and learn.
Of course, I still have moments where something triggers that old familiar pain. A family member announces their pregnancy. Oof. I attend a baby shower for a dear friend. Ouch. But those moments are rare. Mostly, I’m grateful.
Adoption is not a cure for infertility. There are things I will never get to experience. I will never carry a baby within me. I will never experience the strength and courage of childbirth. I will likely never nurse my child or feel their kicks or hiccups in my belly. That’s a real loss.
But my gains will be real, too. My story will be different. It will be shared. It will have a level of connection with other humans that is incomprehensible. I will be a parent. I will get to love and nurture a child. I will get to provide them with opportunities and watch them surprise me as they grow. And we’ll have a big, beautiful, different family that is connected through love. I am thrilled to see how life will unfold. How I change. How I grow. And how my love will expand.
I wouldn’t change my situation. I’m grateful for the person infertility has helped me become. Infertility didn’t end me. It didn’t become me, and it didn’t define me. But it changed me, and it’s giving me the most meaningful experience I’ll ever have.
How have I processed infertility? I let it go. And letting go made room for so much more.