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.