This post is pretty personal, and I feel kind of vulnerable putting it up for all to read. But one of the things that has frustrated me most about our experience with infertility is that, for some reason, in our culture so many people suffer in silence. (By the way, I think this is especially true for men.) It can feel lonely and isolating.
My gut tells me that if more people were more open about infertility, we'd have better treatments, better regulation, and better insurance coverage! I also suspect we might have less depression and divorce. So, I want to do my part to make "talking" about infertility more acceptable.
I have read (somewhere, oh where?) that there are many losses associated with infertility, and that evaluating which are most meaningful can help determine next steps in family building, be they further treatment, deciding to live childfree, or moving on to adoption, as we have.
With apologies for the misquoting, non-attribution, and forgetting several key points, I'm sure, the losses include:
Loss of a genetic link to your descendants. M. and I agreed that this isn’t important to us. At first we boasted about how “good” our genes are and thought it would be a loss to the gene pool, but upon further examination, decided that there are plenty of things from all sides of our families that we’d rather not pass on. In fact, the “random” genes of our child are likely to be just as “good” as any of our own.
Loss of a genetic combination. I DO think it would be really cool to see a combo of my physical and other traits with M.’s (and I’m guessing we’d have a pretty cute bio-kid, judging from M.’s baby pictures). But, this was not a tough one for either of us to get over. We’ve also heard other adoptive parents say that their expectations for their children are healthier because they aren’t rooted in assumptions that their children are “mini-me’s.”
Loss of faith in your body. This was a hard loss for me. I’ve been such a healthy person, and to learn that my body is out of my control and not doing what I want it to do, and really not even what it is supposed to do, has been a real shift that’s tough to accept. It has certainly made me much more aware of my body (in not always negative ways) and have much less confidence in it. I feel much older now than I should with the few years that have passed. Of course, this loss isn’t much of an issue for M., because we assume that he could procreate if he was with a fertile partner. (He is always very sweet to reassure me that MY infertility is OUR infertility, as I know I would if the shoe were on the other foot, so to speak.)
Loss of…hmmm…what do they call it?...maternal stuff. This, I think, is the hardest loss for me. Since puberty, I've taken to heart that I have “birthing hips,” and always assumed I’d be pregnant, and labor, and nurse. I’ve had many, many friends re-assure me that I am not “missing” much by never experiencing stretch marks, or a compressed bladder, or 24 hours of active birthing. But I am so sad that I will never know what it’s like to create and sustain another human being. I want to watch my belly swell (from something other than ice-cream) and for M. to watch in awe as our fetus visibly turns over under my skin. I want to understand what it means to bring someone new into the world, and the closeness that comes from a newborn’s nuzzle. I think that one of the attractions of open adoption for me is that we may be able to witness our child’s birth, and I know that will be an incredibly bitter-sweet moment.
So, what do you think? If you learned that having biological kids wasn't in the cards for you, how would you feel? Would you experience a sense of loss? Why?