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 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.