What if…

In the early months of this year a friend very close to our family – a friend who had intimately witnessed many of our miscarriages, IVF cycles, immune testing and finally our successful immune-treatment cycle that later resulted in the birth of baby Azulito – called me looking for advice. She was pregnant. 

Not planned, a severe endometriosis sufferer in a long-term relationship with a guy who had taken steps to insure he would not father any more children. Yet there she was, the morning after finding out and wanting advice about how to keep baby and herself healthy and safe. 

She did not want to terminate the pregnancy but her boyfriend did not want to raise another child. Her child. Their child. On top of that she had her own fears about becoming a mother and raising a child herself. 

I felt sick. I felt betrayed by things greater than myself. Again. I was sure she was asking herself many of the same questions I was. How could this be happening? Why is life so cruel? So unfair? Why me? Why now? Why, why, why, why?

For a time it seemed she would raise her child even if doing so meant becoming homeless, jobless and without the relationship that has brought her a whole new life complete with (his and his ex’s) children on a part-time schedule. 

I have been very close friends with another birth/first mom for many years. I knew adoption would be a devastating “choice” in these (in any) circumstances. I dreaded the lifetime of unimaginable grief, self-loathing, doubt and loss I knew would await our pregnant friend if she did what her boyfriend said from day one that he would do: place her baby with an adoptive family (while continuing to help raise his kids). 

As the months passed it became clear that an open adoption was The Plan. I promised myself I would support whatever path our friend chose. It has not been easy for us. It has been much harder for her. Infinitely harder. 

I/we offered everything we could to ensure our friend could raise baby if she chose to do so and we have offered what support we can since she chose to place her daughter with her adoptive family and leave her with them at the end of the revocation of consent period. I hope to be able to support her whenever she may need or want that. 

I cannot count the tears I have shed or the ways in which I’ve felt my heart shatter. I know their number and magnitude are dwarfed by our friend’s own loss to date and in the new life she forges in the open adoption relationship she ultimately chose. 

Why am I sharing this here? Now?

I love our friend like family. I admire her candour and the courage with which she is facing life after placing her daughter. I love her daughter even though I cry and grieve a little each time I look at her photos and think of her. She recently described her child as the one thing of which she is most proud. So she should be; she did the very best she could for that baby from day one.

At a personal level these events have given rise to a river of grief in me I could not have forecast. The river is vast and swift. I have felt myself drowning in it many a sleepless night for months on end. 

In my gut and heart I knew for months – even though the testing was inconclusive and even though she felt that the baby was a boy for most of her pregnancy – that our friend would give birth to a daughter. Surely for my grief to be complete the universe had to deal me this final blow. 

And so it was. 

What has happened for me in the process of witnessing our friend’s struggle with how to manage her unexpected pregnancy and make a plan that she could not only live with but try to thrive with in time is hard to explain. I could not explain it here even if I wished. My views on the adoption industry are not popular and I care too much about our friend to cheapen her experience by sharing what little I can truly know or understand about it given my own history and perspective. I hope I have not already said too much. 

In any event her pregnancy – which chugged along beside my own for many months – forms the impetus for this post and probably several to follow. It opened my heart to feelings and my mind to thoughts I have been unable to shake or put to bed. 

The short version is that I have wept and ached not only for her impossible choices and crushing loss but knowing I would never be able to have a daughter myself. Or another child irrespective of whether a boy or girl. I have cursed myself – for being such a late bloomer, for waiting so long, for buying the lies, for not following my gut and looking for a reproductive immunologist sooner – and fate, the universe, God or whatever you want to call it – for screwing me over so resolutely in the child-bearing department. I have raged against all the wrongs I perceived as a result. 

In short, I have drunk deeply and long from the well of grief. My visions blurs and head dizzies just thinking about it. 

And then it happened. I asked the ill-fated question I probably should have eliminated from my vocabulary long ago when it comes to my reproductive abilities. 

What if… 

What if we tried again? Would I hope for a girl? Yes. Would I be just as excited to have another boy? Absolutely. 

Yes we are too old. Yes this is utter madness. Yes it would cost another fortune we don’t have. Yes it would mean three kids in full-time child care because yes, it would mean me having to go back to work before I would like if it even worked. And the worst yes of all: it may not work and would cost nearly the same fortune to fail as to succeed. 

And yet. I have made inquiries. We are waiting for a consult to determine if a certain doctor in our own country would work with Dr. Braverman if we did a DE IVF cycle with him using a protocol designed by Dr. B and with him consulting (ka-ching x 2). I have grown simultaneously calmer and more restless since setting these balls in motion. 

The one thing I have not done is meditate to call on the spirit(s) of any child(ren) who may or may not be interested in us being his/her/their parents. It is too soon for that. 

I am wrought by an anxiety that this is another manifestation of my grieving and not a sustainable rational or reasonable thing to do. It would surely mean my never retiring. At least not before my 70th birthday. I also do not want to set myself up for an insatiable thirst that ca only ever be satisfied at the well of grief. My communication with any spirit baby or babies will be very different if I am reaching out to say goodbye for now rather than extending an invitation. 

And now for a caveat of sorts:

* I have wrestled with whether to password protect this post. In theend – at least for now – I have chosen not to in case anyone else has struggled or is struggling with similar feelings or circumstances. Whether it readsas such or not this is one of the most vulnerable entries I have ever posted. 

* In light of my deep sense of vulnerability I may delete this post or password it. I will certainly delete and block all troll comments as I have done in the past (you’ve been warned, a-holes). And I may not respond substantively in public to any comments though I may be more inclined to do so outside of this public forum. If this happens please don’t take it personally. I feel pretty raw fragile and pensive about all of “this” at the moment. 



34 thoughts on “What if…

  1. I can imagine how hard it was for you to write about this, but I’m so glad you did. No matter what you do or don’t decide to do in the future, you have to process your grief, and it seems like this space has long been a tool to help you do that. This is years of grief we’re talking about here, so much grief. I know you will get through this, and I know you will come out stronger and filled with peace in the other side, but in the meantime, please keep grieving and sharing here when you feel that you can do so. I think it’s good you’re making inquiries to find out about another DE IVF — it’s always better to know the options and make an informed decision, rather than wonder what if. Hang in there. I have of course been thinking of you and will continue to do so. Sending love to you.

    • Thank you, dear friend. You knew this was the cat who had gotten my tongue and I was and remain grateful for your friendship then too. I often think of you and your passenger. You and your family are in for such joy in the coming year.

  2. This is a really well-written post, beautiful even. I could feel your grief and pain in every word, and I am so grateful you gave us this peek into your thoughts and feelings. I’m truly heartbroken for your friend, too. We may share similar thoughts/feelings about the adoption industry (mine, too, are pretty unpopular).

    Perhaps you’re being called to do this by the soul of your child(ren), so even if it doesn’t make sense financially, it does in the heart. I hope you’ll share the rest of this journey with us. I’m here rooting for you and sending you love.

  3. Just wanted to say I’m sorry that you have been dealing with so much pain theses months. Such a hard decision for your friend my friend goes out to her.. Not easy at all. Definitely life can give us many bumps in the road. Sending you strength and prayers on this journey. Hope you hear good news about the DE IVF.. Remember your doing amazing and one day at a time. FYI.. We just had our WTF app.. And now our doctor wants us to use a sperm donor. A tough pill to chew on and also a DE IVF not sure what this next year will bring. Trying to not think about it. Its been a tough end of this year..

  4. Hugs my friend. Hugs to you and your friend. I cannot imagine how hard it was for her to place her child or for you to stand by and watch and support her. And if you do follow through with those “what ifs”… we will be here to support you and cheer you on. If you get some answers and decide not to pursue any further we are here for you too. Wishing you peace and strength as you work through this grief. It isn’t easy.

  5. I feel about one one hundredths of your pain (one one thousandths even, maybe) when I think about having a second child. It is far fetched for us (mostly for financial reasons) and yet the pull is there. I guess what I’m saying is that in my own tiny way, I can relate. You have my support times a thousand. Even if trying again seems totally crazy to the naked eye, most of us here have more insight than that.

  6. It’s so hard to second guess yourself. To wonder about all the what-ifs. And to do it alongside a very close friend who had to make the difficult and painful choice of adoption. I don’t blame you for having all sorts of strong feelings about it for the duration of your and her pregnancies. It’s so hard to navigate life not knowing what may/may not unfold. Love to you friend. ❤

  7. I’m so glad you posted this. I’ve missed you. My heart aches for your friend and the difficulties she faced. I can relate to your longing as well. I definitely do want #2, but the thought of what that may entail is frightening. I have so much respect for the lengths you have gone to bring your children into this world. One day, I know they will know how much you loved them before they even got here. Be gentle with yourself though. If another one is destined to arrive, it will all unfold.

  8. I won’t be able to say this very well, but what I would like to TRY to say is this: Sometimes we see in another’s emotional experience what is in ourselves without our being aware of it, and we experience deep emotion about their experience, and we wonder why, and the reason is because on some level it is OUR experience – our past, present or future experience. Because of your friend, you have realized a “yes” within you that trumps all “ifs” and “buts”. What that as clear as mud?

  9. What a horrific decision your friend has had to make. Utterly heartbreaking. I’m glad she did go open so that she can be involved with her daughter.

    Wow, that is awesome that you are considering another child. A little sister for the boys would be so neat !

    Wishing you all the best!

  10. Beautiful friend, I’m so sorry for your pain. I don’t think there is a “right” answer here. All you can do is evaluate your options and see what your heart tells you. Sending love and support no matter what decisions you make.

  11. Heartrending :-(. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to stand by a friend going through that. A friend of ours was matched with a baby just before christmas and we were thrilled to hear their news. It made me wonder so much about the birth mother – what her circumstances were that she decided to have her child adopted. For me, personally, you’d have to kill me to take a baby away from me that I’d carried. But we are all different and our lives are not meant to be the same. As for your question… only you can know what you need to do, and I think children are a calling. If there is another your body needs to have, then what else can you do but try? I wish you love and courage and peace in the knowledge that whatever you decide will be right xxxxx

  12. Hello, my dear friend. I’ve been missing you and thinking of you. And, truthfully, worrying about you. I was touched reading this post, and more importantly, hope that it was helpful to you to have written it. I want so much for you to be more at peace. I do hope that you writing this and sharing it with us will be an important step in your grieving and finding that peace you so deserve and need.

    As for being drawn to the idea of having another baby, I can relate. The first year of Bunny’s life has been full of both bliss and sadness, knowing that this will be the last time I experience these baby moments. Every day I work at embracing the moment, not mourning over how quickly she’s growing up, and at accepting that our family is complete. I do wonder if it’s easier for people who have both a son and a daughter. Those of us with two of the same gender have a different situation. I do think about the fact that I’ll never know what it’s like to raise a son. But aside from the financial considerations (which are real!) I also know in my heart that we have enough to handle with our two girls and that truly, we would not be able to take on more from an emotional standpoint. And slowly, I have felt myself calming as I continue to try to move beyond the infertility period of my life.

    Ok, enough about me. I digress. Sorry.

    I hope you will be able to give yourself time and love as you continue your journey of grieving and processing all that is happening inside your heart and mind and among those around you.

    • My dear friend, thank you so much for sharing your perspective on this. I found it very helpful and comforting. So much to think about. I’m a little saddened to think so much of my writing here is of the melancholic variety but I suppose processing my grief here necessitates that to some degree.

  13. Your grief and sadness shows how deep your maternal spirit runs…you care instinctively and protectively for this child. Your internal voice and spiritual connection has never lead you astray. Follow your instincts and your heart, whichever way they may lead you. If it leads to you pursuing another baby, I pray you are not met with any hardships or stresses…you’ve more than paid your dues and you deserve an easy go!

    • Thank you. I go back and forth many times a day on what to do but a constant is my deep love for the children I’ve been blessed to love (living and lost) and to my partner in crime who really is an unsung hero all things considered.

  14. Pingback: The “what ifs” continue and other news | spiritbabycomehome

  15. Thank you for sharing this. I feel I can relate in a way as I have 2 boys who I love more than I ever thought possible. But I still long for a girl and would be just as happy for another boy. But we don’t have any intention of doing ivf again, not that ivf would be a sure thing anyway. I have very mixed feelings about it. I am hoping for another natural conception but… it’s entirely out of my hands and in the Lord’s. I hope if there still is another baby destined for your family, that it won’t be long before you are carrying it. And peace for you, either way.

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