Friday, October 12, 2012

Didn't I See This Movie?

I had a surreal experience on Kol Nidre night (the night when Yom Kippur begins). A young woman came up to me at synagogue and said, "Do you remember me?" I had supervised her immersion in the mikvah, a ritual bath, immediately before her wedding because the attendant scheduled to be on duty didn't show up. The night was very memorable for me because I had to be at the surgical center very early next morning to get a D&C for my third miscarriage; the last place I wanted to be was at the mikvah with a happy bride, but it was rainy and I didn't want her to wait any longer for the no-show. Anyway, it was this woman who approached me at synagogue. She told me how grateful she was that I showed up that night in general and all the more so, because she was pregnant. Now, in the movie version of this, I should have been, too: seriously, dragging myself out late at night in the middle of a tragedy to help this woman with a mitzvah (commandment) meant to help you conceive? It felt like the setup for some positive karma coming my way. Alas, the world doesn't work like the movies.

I think about my infertility more than I'd like to admit. I wish I didn't, but it's hard to not reflect when I see pregnant bellies at synagogue, or when I have a sweet interaction with a neighbor's kids. On Rosh Hashana I thought about our second baby, who was due then, and when someone told me her due date was Jan. 7, I thought of our third kid who was due Jan. 6. The one thing I can tell you is, infertility sucks. So much so that my friend who has cancer told me that he found infertility more challenging in many ways than cancer. His experience was that it was certainly more lonely. "People rally around you when you have cancer. That's not the case when you're experiencing infertility," he said.

One of the suckiest things about this is seeing myself turn into a person with behaviors I never, ever wanted to have, like avoiding pregnant friends. I think it is so petty and lame, yet find myself doing it anyway. I am trying to have compassion for myself around this, because I know my poor brain is trying valiantly to protect my wounded heart. I know this is a phase and it will pass. In the meantime, there is always Facebook.

Another eye-opener for me is how suffering related to infertility isn't related to how long you have been trying to conceive or how long you've wanted to be a parent. I was very late in wanting kids, then was thwarted by a very advanced case of Lyme Disease. It is hard to make love, let alone seriously contemplate parenthood, when every nerve in your body is on fire and you can't use your arms. For some (dumb) reason, I thought that would mean I would be less sad about our infertility, but that's not how it works. The heart wants what the heart wants, and furthermore, sometimes I have to encounter the second arrow of, "Well, if you had come to this sooner, things might be different." Feeling like there is a hole in your family is a lonely feeling, no matter how long you've been feeling it.

I am working hard to keep things in perspective, like by taking account of the tremendous blessings that I have, especially being happily married to my best friend. I cling steadfastly to the belief that you can be happy no matter your circumstances. I also do believe that everything will work out how its supposed to, whether or not I'm immediately happy with the results. Still, I can't help but feeling thwarted in doing God's will, as David eloquently wrote about, even as I have to concede that this may not be God's will for us. We'll see; it's definitely too early to make that call. David and I are definitely still in the game.

In the meantime, I continue to pray and take comfort in the struggles of the Jewish matriarchs, most of whom suffered infertility. I read Hannah's story in I Samuel and was moved to tears. I'm trying to use this fallow time as a time to work on myself and be of service to others. If you are the spiritual sort, please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.




7 comments:

Carla Baron said...

Sarah,in a way I understand the grief that you must be feeling. As you know, my oldest son is autistic, and while I am eternally grateful for him and that he was not born with a life-threatening disease or disability, his diagnosis came with its own sadness.
We are human, and we cannot help but have certain expectations. I dreamed of the the day I could share my son's experiences at school, have him tell me silly stories, tell me he was scared and have me comfort him; things that seem a routine part of parenting. My son and I in a way speak a different language, and while we are learning, a great deal gets lost in translation. I remember his frustrations and emotional outbursts which more often than not turned into nearly hour long melt downs where I had to keep him from hurting himself. I remember my heartbreak when I would try to communicate with him and he looked right through me as if I didn't exist. I remember how difficult it was (and sometimes still is) to help my family, friends and often strangers to understand my son's limitations. It is a daily struggle, and yes, there were times I would see parents playing at the park with their "normal" children and fight the urge to be resentful. I blamed myself, God and anything/everything else, and I still struggle with these issues to this day. I will probably struggle with them for the rest of my life.
I don't know if you have ever seen Buonarroti's Pieta, but I recall seeing a replica of it at the church I attended when I lived at home, and it offered me some comfort.
Your feelings are yours, and considering the difficulty your situation presents you with, those who know and care for you unconditionally understand why you need to insulate yourself from what is potentially painful. Your willingness to share your feelings and experiences takes a great deal of courage. As a woman, a mother and a friend I would love nothing more than to gift wrap and deliver you the priceless gift of motherhood, because despite my struggles, I could not imagine my life without my children, and I can only imagine what it must feel like for you to face this challenge.
Be kind to yourself and draw whatever strength and inspiration you can from where ever you can and know that you are loved, supported and remembered daily in my prayers.

Peace and Blessings,
Carla

Sarah said...

Thank you, Carla, for this thoughtful comment and your kind words. All three of your children are lucky to have such a wise mother.

I actually find all of the Pietas I have seen very moving.

Love,
Sarah

Anonymous said...

That's very understandable. It can feel unfair to me when life doesn't work like movies, even though I know that I have no reason to expect it to. I hope that your children come to you in good time, in good circumstances --- biological, adopted, or however they come to you.

Anonymous said...

Every single woman out there is pregnant. Not really, but doesn't it seem that way? Every single place that I turn, there's another pregnant woman! It certainly doesn't make dealing with our struggles any easier.

I can understand avoiding pregnant people. I know that I have avoided certain pregnant friends at times. There really is no way to tell them that their happiness is causing you pain, without taking away some of their joy. One just hopes that they understand.

Sarah said...

Second Anonymous: I do have a slightly differing outlook. It is very important to me, with my particular set of values, not to look at this situation as other people's happiness causing me pain. It's more that their happiness reminds me of a huge lack in my own life. A subtle difference, but one that focuses on me rather than others. I try hard for my mental health to cultivate joy from others' joy.

Stef said...

Sarah, I'm sorry to read about your sadness. I can related to your emotions - and as you said, the brain can't always reason with the heart. Nor should it always try. We can honor and respect our heart, and hold it (and our whole selves) gently while we allow the emotions to do what they are designed to do: to emote, to move through us.

*Hug*

Stef said...

Sarah, I'm sorry to read about your sadness. I can related to your emotions - and as you said, the brain can't always reason with the heart. Nor should it always try. We can honor and respect our heart, and hold it (and our whole selves) gently while we allow the emotions to do what they are designed to do: to emote, to move through us.

*Hug*