A part of me has always known that I would not have a biological child. I’ve just always had a feeling that it would not be that way for me. It used to break my heart and I spent so much time worrying about it. Don’t get me wrong: it didn’t consume me entirely–I enjoy my life very much, particularly the last few years–but I also lived with a dull, ever-present heartache for a long time. Psychologists say the emotional pain of infertility is similar to receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis. There have been moments when I absolutely believe that. Not being able to start a family when everyone around you is doing so is absolutely, end-of-the-world devastating.
Looking back now, I can see that I went through all five stages of grief (illustrated here by that girl from the O.C.): 1. Denial: It’s no big deal. I need to “just relax” about it. If I try this supplement or that herb or stand on my head for twenty minutes or whatever, it will happen. 2. Anger: I can’t take seeing another pregnant woman or newborn! Why can everyone get pregnant but me?! Screw you, body! Up yours, world! 3. Bargaining/pleading: Please, please, I will do anything. I will give all my clothes to charity, volunteer at the soup kitchen every night, help old ladies cross the street, anything. 4. Depression: Crying. Crying. More crying. Sappy chick flicks. Not wanting to get out of bed. Avoiding life in general.
I cycled through numbers 1-4, on and off at varying intensities, for several years. But then like a ray of sunshine… the stage I had been waiting for finally appeared, # 5. Acceptance: I’m not going to have a biological child. And that’s OK. Get me off this crazy train, please.
There is no doubt that my affinity for adoption (along with my amazingly supportive husband) is what helped finally move me from another cycle of denial, anger, bargaining and depression on to acceptance. I realized that what I was grieving was not that I couldn’t get pregnant (though that was certainly frustrating). I was grieving not being able to start a family. I love kids and I have felt sort of empty not having any around, with no one to dress up for Halloween, create magic for at Christmas, or tell stories to at night. That is why my heart was broken. Not that I couldn’t experience a pregnancy.
When I realized that I didn’t have to get pregnant to have a family–that adoption was not only possible for us, but nowhere near as time-consuming and difficult as I had thought it was, I immediately began to heal. We both knew we’d love an adopted child every bit as much as a biological one, so we threw away the info sheet our doctor had given us on IVF and went confidently, and happily, in the direction of adoption. And acceptance. I am in such a good place now and am so excited about adopting. I’m 100% positive that this is the right path for us and, believe it or not, I would not even want to be pregnant right now if I could be. That is the honest truth. I am so in love with Charlie and the gift of adoption that I am totally over any instinctual desire I had to be pregnant.
Earlier this week, a friend of mine who has also been struggling with infertility, told me about a supplement she has been taking called DHEA. After receiving unsuccessful infertility treatments and throwing in the towel, she had taken DHEA for a couple months for an unrelated issue and just learned she had gotten pregnant naturally, at 42. After I got all excited and congratulated her, she said I still had plenty of time and suggested I take it to see if it would work for me, too. I thought about it for a second. “Nah, I don’t think so,” I said, “I wouldn’t want a pregnancy to mess up our adoption.”
And I meant it.