Infertility: The grief that keeps on giving
People end up childless for many reasons. For some it’s a choice, for others it’s something they never got around to. For someone else it might be because they never found the right person to do it with, and for others like myself it’s something that just didn’t work. Our bodies let us down.
I’ve been very blessed to have had many young people in my life. They’ve been nieces and nephews, godsons and goddaughters, and kids I’ve met through community activities. But no matter how deep the connection feels in these relationships, no matter how fun and lovely these bonds are, they don’t replace that deep connection that I observe parents have with their own children.
My partner and I tried for many years to have a child. She took vitamins, I wore baggy and daggy boxer shorts. We went to doctors, sought out faith healing and spent a great deal of money on IVF. Sadly, none of this worked.
Coming to the end of this process was exceedingly painful. It was a grief as painful as the loss of a parent. In our relationship, it was one of those times that we had to choose to love each other, grieve together and forgive each other. None of this was easy.
As with all grief, it fades into the background as time goes by. However, there are things that trigger it over and over again. Initially it was seeing our friends’ social circles expand as they took their kids to school, then seeing them go through the education process and graduating. Now it’s watching their kids get married and have children. I remember incredibly strongly when my goddaughter got married, having that moment of mixed feelings: excitement for her and sadness for myself. Knowing that I would never walk my own daughter down the aisle. I will never know that joy.
As I look to the future, there will be other griefs to face. As friends and siblings become grandparents, we will have to share the joy whilst having to deal with our grief over not having our own. And as we care for my mother-in-law, as her health fails and her dementia grows, we are acutely aware that there will be no one there to care for us. We will need to make decisions for ourselves and seek ways to care for ourselves in the future.
So how have we coped?
We have actively sought relationships with other people’s children. We made our home child friendly, with an inner child area full of toys and books, and even a train set. That inner child space is not just for the kids to visit, it’s for us as well. You have to play. Kids give adults the excuse, but if you don’t have a child you have to create your own reasons to play.
Another hard learned tip – if you can avoid Mother’s and Father’s Day events, please do! It is amazing how hurtful comments can be, especially from well-meaning people! It’s sad but true.
Finally, as with all griefs, life does go on. You make the best of what you have, and find the joy in what you can.