There has been a major shift in my life, and I can't quite put my finger on when it happened, but it definitely was brewing for a while. I'd say at least 4 months or so.
You may remember reading either on my blog or on others' blogs when I comment, that I do not feel the same angst surrounding my infertility and inability to adopt or foster anymore. I don't suffer the same pain when I think about my current childlessness... and it's not because I have this incredible sense of hope that it will one day change. No, it's not that. I think it's even more powerful than that. I think I have reached the point of "acceptance" not only in accepting my cross, but in knowing that I can find joy and peace in it.
It's a really odd place to be, even though there is peace within it, the peace is solely surrounding the desire for children (which, if still there, is distant). It's certainly not that suddenly everything in my life is rosey. Many days, it's quite the opposite. Yes, I am very happy and thankful that I am beginning new ultrasound jobs this week and we are very close to purchasing our first home. These are amazing and exciting things!! But I still find that I am often depressed, and I wonder if the sadness is being caused by the particular catalyst of the moment, or if it is stemming from the underlying residual depression associated with my childlessness.
Now, I just said that I have found peace and joy in my cross. That is true. But the residual depression of which I'm now speaking has less to do with the obvious "pain" of infertility (aching to become a mother) and more to do with all the knowledge of missing out on the other perks associated with parenthood, being pregnant, and going through the adoption process.
Let me explain.
Over the past few years, I have made some amazing friends here online and on the blogs. Some very solid and strong bonds have been formed. I am, and always will be, so very thankful that God placed these women into my lives at the time I most needed their love and support. These women knew exactly what I was going through, and I knew exactly what they were going through.
Now, things are so very, very different. I find myself reading the blogs of my closest friends, and email updates on their lives, and not only do I have no way to relate to their new mommy/pregnant/adopting situations on which they are writing, but then I read through the comments and realize that every. single. one. of the responses are coming from women who CAN relate and ARE relating to them, better than I now can. I know this sounds like a very typical jealous reaction, but I assure you, it is not jealousy. I feel as if I've been left behind. Oh how I hate to be excluded from the "in"-crowd. I remember a time when the Infertile Group was the in-crowd!
Feeling excluded is primarily what makes me sad these days. I have nothing to share about my non-existent baby's first coo, first diaper change, or first steps. I have nothing to share about "the call" from the social worker or the fateful signing of papers. And worse yet, I have no words of wisdom or advice to give to my friends who are experiencing these things. There's only so many times you can type, "I'm praying for you!" in those darn comment boxes, and, to me at least, it's so obvious who the lone childless outcasts are when you read through the comments and amongst the endless, "I know just how you feel!"s and "When we were going through that exact thing, here's what we did"s is a random and useless, "I'm praying for you!"
And then there's the flip-side. The discomfort of those who have moved into the land of parenthood/pregnancy/adoption, who now find themselves with nothing to say to me. Maybe it's that they are too busy with baby things, or maybe it's (more likely) that they no longer know what to say, how to say it, and whether or not I want to hear it... but no matter what the reason, they tend to stay away from commenting on my blog, or emailing.
And there's really no way to rectify that situation. If I could, I would not choose that these people would be childless once again so that I could enjoy a sense of camraderie with them. And, I wouldn't wish for a child just so that I could be in the "cool" group! But the fact remains, there is definately a very clear line between the childless and those who have crossed over... and there's something unspeakably awkward about mingling between the two as if there is no difference at all.
So, that is what makes me sad.
But there's more.
When I think about my current situation - a woman who is still trying to become as healthy as possible, but is no longer going to the ends of the earth to try every single infertility treatment known to woman - it makes me realize that I've given up. For the first and only time in my life... I've given up on something I once had such strong passion for. I suppose I could look at it from another angle and say, I have not truly given up, but rather GIVEN IT OVER into the hands of God. But when I reflect upon my moments of sadness, my human rationale sees it as defeat.
It's a painful realization to know that everything I've gone through has not yielded ANY results. Just to name a few, I have endured:
A 7-hour surgery (1st of 3), leaving me with a 5-inch laparotomy scar
An excruciating cervical scraping procedure
A painful HSG
A tortuous endometrial biopsy without anesthesia
A botched midline catheter IV insertion, leaving me bloodied and bruised for weeks
Meeting with Branch Director about Home Study "problems"
Home Study rejection
Flying back and forth from NY to Chicago in one day... twice
And what pains me most about this is that others are able to justify all of it and more by looking at the end result. I have no end result. While one could argue that the peace I am now experiencing in my current childlessness IS the end result, I certainly wouldn't rejoice and say, "I would do every single painful moment over again just to be where I am now!" No. I probably would not spend $40,000+ on all of the worthless medical procedures just so that I could have peace now. I probably would go back to day one and devote all of my energy into prayer, instead.
I am thankful that I was entrusted with that amount of suffering, however. The SUFFERING had and still has a purpose. The suffering was never meant to be justified by an end-result (for me nor for anybody) here in this world. And as thankful as I am that God gave me my cross, I am ever-more grateful that He has given me much reprieve from it lately. The moments of sadness that I experience now are nothing compared to the years of unimaginable heartache and torture.
When I think about the future, I am able to embrace it even though I don't know what it holds. The uncertainty used to scare me, but now it excites me with wonder. It's very possible that my husband and I will pursue foster care when we are able (a year or two?) but we'll have to discuss that if and when the time comes. I never in a million years would think that these words would be coming out of my mouth (or my fingers, I suppose), but if I never do become a mother, that, too, will be O.K. Sure, I'll probably have to find myself a new set of friends so that I have SOMETHING to talk about besides infertility treatments or raising kids... but it could work.
Not until this very moment have I fully understood the implication of my own blog name. All of these years, I strove to live up to its title, and BECOME that title. But now I see that I am not defined by This Cross I Embrace. My cross was never meant to define me as a person, but rather to be picked up, carried, and embraced for the person it will help me to become.