For those of you who are new to my blog – Infertility is an incredibly real part of our life right now. We have recently decided to begin the adoption process, but are have been spending some time sorting emotions and waiting for things to settle just a bit before we become certified. You can read more about our journey in a few other posts here. I speak opening about our fertility struggles because otherwise Infertility is a silent battle that eats you alive. I want it to be accepted in society, and not a topic of shame. Below is the latest stage of our journey.
In the last few weeks I’ve been struggling. Nathan and I are so ready to adopt. We know it is the right path for us, and we know our next steps. There are some days that I have accepted the ‘fact’ of my fertility, and there are others that the wound feels so fresh. I was struggling with what this meant. Did it mean I wasn’t ready, I wasn’t healing? I’ve finally realized that there’s nothing wrong with these feelings. My view of them was what was wrong. Fertility isn’t a fact. It’s a death. The Death of Our Assumed Reality.
In 2007 a good friend died in a car crash. It was sudden, cruel, and not fair. He was so young. It was my first ‘real’ memorable experience with death. But not my last.
In the days following his death I grasped at straws to try to understand it. During that time I found this quote:
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”
I referred back to the quote for comfort many times after his death, and in the many deaths that would follow.
The expected deaths:
Nathan’s grandmother, who drug out dying to the last second humanly possible.
And the unexpected:
Nathan’s mother, who lost the battle of Alzheimer’s way too soon.
These deaths were all out loud. Public.
The Death of Our Assumed Reality is not. It’s private. Shameful. It’s the future assumptions you had for your life disappearing, drowning, dying.
The one thing that rings true with all death is that they are all different.
Some death is sudden, one minute they’re here, the next, they’re gone. While other deaths are expected. Long. Drawn out.
But the day the death finally happens, that day it is final. That day still hurts, no matter how long you had been expecting it.
The day Nathan’s grandmother had her stroke we knew she was dying, but we didn’t know when she would die, we didn’t know when it would be final, and, as prepared as we tried to be, 2.5 years later when the day finally did come, it still hurt like hell.
The Death of Our Assumed Reality was also long and drawn out. I was told the odds of my fertility when I was 17. Those were the facts. My diagnosis.
But, in the same way that you assume Grandma will get better, I assumed I’d be the exception. Because we’re good people. And we’d make great parents. We’ll be the miracle.
The realization that we aren’t ‘the exception’ is The Death. Expected. Drawn out. But death is final. And it hurts.
All death is different.
In the weeks following Nathan’s mother’s death we received cards [so many cards]. Inside one of them was the message ‘Just remember, everyone grieves differently’. I found this message odd at the time. It didn’t make sense to me. But if flooded my memory one [hard] night. And then it made perfect sense. The way Nathan processed his mother’s death was different than his brothers and sisters. It was different than how I processed it. And that was okay.
Nathan has handled The Death of Our Assumed Reality with much greater stride than I have. There are still days that it is hard for him, too. But, for him, this Assumed Reality hasn’t always been been set in stone. He’s understood the odds in a much more calculated way than I have. He grieves it in his own way. And that’s okay.
Everyone grieves differently.
‘Time heals all wounds’ is perhaps the biggest lie we try to convince ourselves of. Time heals nothing. The wound of death never ‘heals’, it simply morphs. It becomes more regular. It becomes a part of you. It becomes a part of your life, your history and your emotion.
Death never becomes easier. Only more normal. Only more hollow, more empty. But never easier. Never healed.
There are days, weeks, months that I sail through The Death of Our Assumed Reality. These are the days I feel as if I’m okay. Then there are moments – expected and unexpected – that the death is absurdly real. It drops into the empty pit of my heart with a thud. And the stitches of this wound are ripped wide open. On these days I grieve The Death, sometimes in a deep, dark way. I miss The Assumed Reality in a way that seems to seep out of me. Out of my wound. On these days, Nathan does everything to pull my wound closed. Some days he can. Some days, he can’t. But that’s just the thing, with death.
After Nathan’s Mom died, I would often walk into her house and expect to still see her sitting in her chair, at the dinner table, or ringing my phone. Sometimes, even this far away, those memories still sneak up. Unexpected salt on the wound.
The Death of Our Assumed Reality isn’t one that’s easy to escape. The silent triggers are everywhere.
There’s the empty room that you had planned for a nursery. That you walk by every day.
There’s the monthly, like clockwork, reminder of your inadequacy. Every.Damn.Month.
There are friends and family members, going on with their lives as if nothing’s wrong. Because The Death of Our Assumed Reality is silent. They go on, and have babies. They have stories. They have laughter. As if nothing is wrong.
There are the supposed ‘well wishers’ who just want to know why ‘we haven’t started trying’.
And then there are the unexpected moments, like all death memories, that hit without any noticeable trigger. Without a reason. Without a care. The wound is open.
Infertility is silent death.
The silent Death of Our Assumed Reality.
And like all death, it’s okay to grieve.