I was given the news at 15 that I’d never be able to have children. The way it was done was all wrong. Is there right a way to tell a woman or girl this? Not really. I got this news at 15, by myself. I’d gone in hemorrhaging once again. There was an old man covering for my doctor while she was on maternity leave post adoption. This man examined me and told me I’d never be able to have children. No explanation. No words of kindness. There wasn’t even a comment about talking to my mom to help me understand or have support. He told me I’d never have kids like he’d asked me to pass the potatoes. Blase. There is nothing blase about this news or this topic. This is a subject which haunts me to this day.
I always wanted a houseful of kids. When I was really young it didn’t upset me as I watched my friends have babies. There was still the hope inside. It was a matter of time. Eventually a miracle would happen and I’d be a mom. As time passed and my sister-in-laws kept having babies and my friends from school, it started to sting. A sadness crept in that wouldn’t totally go away. It receded into the background, but never totally went away.
I came to absolutely hate Mother’s Day. I still do if I’m totally honest. Year after year of family celebrations where my mother and sister-in-laws were doted on and celebrated for something I couldn’t have. It’s the annual rub-it-in your-face-you-can’t-have-kids day. There’s no part of my feelings which is angry at other women for having a family or being upset that they’re being celebrated by their families. That’s not it at all. It’s the ache inside. It’s hurt and an annual feeling of loss for what I wanted most. This is something which isn’t socially acceptable to talk about. Put on a smile and be happy as we celebrate all the other women in our lives who have kids.
Last night as Daddy and I watched Drugs, Inc. on National Geographic a specific set of feelings flooded back like I’ve not had in a long time. I was enraged as we watched a young heroin addict shooting up and turning tricks while pregnant. Yes, it’s sad and tragic. Blah, blah, blah. Fuck that!! What comes up for me is disdain and disgust that a woman like that can pop out baby after baby with no effort on her part. That baby won’t have a fighting chance for a good life. Odds are it’s starting life HIV+ and definitely dependent on heroin. What I feel is anger, rage, sadness that I can’t have kids… never could… and I’d be a great mom. Adoption standards are set so unbelievably high and the cost is prohibitive for many. I couldn’t even give a good home to a child who needs one. These feelings are all too familiar. It’s been a long time since they’ve come up so strong. For me, a biological child has never mattered as much as raising and loving a child. Having a mental health condition, no matter how well controlled and stable I am, prohibits adoption…. yet drug addicts can have a zillion kids. I guess that hurt will always be there.
I was in my early 30’s when a friend got pregnant. I was excited for her!! She was my friend, we were really close. As she neared her due date, I found myself hurting once again for what I couldn’t have. How do you express this to your friend? I can’t be around you right now because it hurts too much. I love you and am happy for you…. seeing you breaks my heart. I pulled away for a little bit just before the baby was born for self preservation. She was hurt and angry. Our friendship was never the same after that. Sadly, I’m not the only woman who’s walked through these feelings or even this situation.
The ultimate heartbreak of infertility? Miscarriages. For many women, the two seem to go hand-in-hand. The struggle to get pregnant only to lose it early on. When I got pregnant 5 years ago I was on top of the world. The miracle I’d hoped for my entire life had finally happened. Then the awful outcome. The baby implanted in my Fallopian tube. Deadly. Physically and emotionally excruciating. The comments that came after where almost worse than the loss itself. “You’ll get pregnant again.” “At least you know you can get pregnant.” All the while my doctors were telling me the likelihood of another pregnancy was less than 1% and I had a very high chance of not surviving a pregnancy if it were to happen. This was worse than never getting pregnant at all.
Packing up all the hopes, dreams and the want for children again after losing the pregnancy took a very long time. Before that, I’d reached a place of peace around it. I didn’t like it, but I’d accepted it and found a way to be more than ok with the fact I’d never have a family. It took me years to reach that point in the first place and getting back there wasn’t easy.
The nuances of infertility are immense. Shades and layers of feelings. The hope, the let down, the pain and sadness. Jealousy and anger. Accept waxes and wanes. I wish my relationship with these feelings weren’t as intimate.