Saturday, September 13, 2008


Last night I was having a conversation with the male half of a couple I know about their difficulty in conceiving. Being somewhat of an expert of that myself, I commiserated about how much pressure there is in society to have a child - people are constantly asking about your babymaking timeline and such. Then inevitably, when a certain amount of time goes by and conception is not achieved, how the romance and the privacy gets sucked out of the whole process by lab tests and doctors and large withdrawals of cash from your bank account. Time marches on and you begin to think about just how much your life will change - YOU KNOW (at least intellectually) just how much your life will change by observing your friends' life with their children and you start to wonder, am I crazy or what? I can sleep in and stay out late and travel at a moment's notice and go to the gym whenever I want, skip grocery shopping and order in, have long phone conversations, etc. How badly do I want a child?

I know what he doesn't know yet. When you start down that IVF path - the needles, the meds, the blood draws, the visits to the dirty old man room - you want very badly to succeed. It's a little like training for the Olympics, you get there and the whole world is watching you run. They show you the bliss and the triumph on the winning athlete's face, but what about the one who didn't even place? Maybe an awkward interview where the athlete smiles and tries to put on a brave face as they say, not this time but it was an honour to even be there. Maybe next time.

For his sake, for his wife's sake, I hope they don't have to go down that road and if they do, I hope they get the desired result.

On another note, I was reading the August issue of O magazine and came across an excerpt of a book by Elizabeth McCracken, "This Does Not Have to Be a Secret". It's about the stillbirth of her first son. It was so poignant and so moving. What stood out for me was that out of her grief came this amazing compassion to let others know that they weren't alone.

She talked about how she loved being pregnant and how happy her and her husband were expecting their first child. I admit I felt a bit nostalgic for something I had never experienced. Nostalgic - is that the right word for it? Wistful? I don't know. It seemed like such a intimate experience, devoid of outside intervention. No lab tests, no clinics, no lawyers, no paperwork. She talked about how she received so many notes of condolences and how it made her son's life real and valid, even in his passing before he was born.

She did eventually go on to become pregnant a second time and delivered another boy, yet she never forgot about his older brother. She didn't forget what it was like to lose a child even when she had another child in her lap.

I'm glad she wrote that story - on behalf of the women who know that kind of grief. It's nice to know that you're not alone. We are all connected, whether we realize it or not.


luna said...

what an excellent post. it kind of sucks being the tour guide for infertility, doesn't it?

I'd like to read that book/article. I can understand the longing. I was able to get pregnant, once, in nearly five years trying. I felt that joy, though it was tempered by the cautious optimism that comes with high risk and years of infertility. and we all know how that ended... but I did have that experience, for better or worse.

unlike the author though, I did not really receive the outpouring of support to validate my son's life. a trickle maybe, to validate me, but nothing for our only child.

before, there was devastation not knowing if I would ever conceive. yet after, I was left with false hope that it could happen again. they both suck.

Guera! said...

I read that excerpt too. I delayed reading it....avoiding it but when I did I was really glad I did.

Wordgirl said...

I just got that O magazine and I haven't read it yet -- perhaps tonight before bed...

I haven't really experienced any real brush with possibility or hope -- even when I was younger I knew I'd been careful and that, well I just knew I wasn't.

We just had hockey practice for W tonight and G got into a conversation with another dad, someone we've known in passing for a few years -- and come to find out that their 8 year old boy was conceived through IVF -- and not only that but that they spent 75K dollars on it and lost twins at five months along in the process -- and ended up adopting.

I was stunned as G told me on the way home -- both because we suffer so much in silence, not knowing how many people have been through what we have...but too my heart was broken for them -- and it brought home to me again that you just never know in this whole business -- there is no fair or unfair, just life and its unforgivable numbers game.

I think a lot about the conscious decision to leave behind the freedom we have now -- and there are times when I think "am I crazy" -- but other times when I know, in my heart, that to not try everything within my power -- well I know I'd regret it - and in the end, that's my answer.

The unknown -- why can't I make peace with it?

I've found so much support in your journey and your wisdom -- if I haven't told you before I want to be sure you know how much it's meant to me...



loribeth said...

I read that article too. Another excerpt was in the Globe & Mail last week. The book is supposed to be out this week. I haven't been able to find it at any local Chapters yet, though -- I may end up ordering it online.

Unknown said...

read your post on Blogher, I'm hoping things pan out for you.

Lori Lavender Luz said...

I'll have to get that issue from the library. Thanks for the tip.

Loved reading about your chanting in the previous post, too.

Anonymous said...

I still remember the grief I felt from my donor egg pregnancy less like it was yesterday...but the good news is that the impact of the grief is not as horrific as it was back in 2006. It's more like an old sad wound that I can now bear.

When Zizi became our daughter, I still longed for the simplicity and experience of pregnancy just because I wanted to know be able to say that I could do something that other women could do. Sure there was also the egocentrism of wishing I could see my features in my daughter, but overall that was a piffle.

But now, after 16 1/2 months of being a mother to this amazing little girl who can work my nerves and warm my heart all in the space of 30 seconds, I've grown to realize that this day-to-day mothering is what is most important. The knowing her moods. The finding ways to redirect her behavior, validate her emotions but still be her parent and create the boundaries she needs to grow up to be a secure child. The desire to avoid the mistakes made by my own parents. All of that is the moral of parenting.

Sure I had heard that before, but I cannot say that I bought into it. Now it is such a part of my heart.

I hope that you soon get to experience the joy of parenthood (along with the exhaustion, frustration and overwhelming confusion) no matter what manner you become a parent.

Pamela T. said...

What a beautiful and thought-provoking post...brought up such memories and helped me appreciate just how far I've come. Thank you...