J and I just purchased a used trombone. In the very early stages of our relationship we discovered all sorts of odd things we had in common, one of which is that we both played the trombone as teenagers. Anyway, we’ve been talking about learning to play again, and we finally found a used instrument in good condition.
The main difference between a trombone and other brass instruments is that you make the notes by moving a slide up and down, rather hitting a key. It makes it a lot more difficult to hit just the right note. It’s also what makes the trombone so much fun to play, because you can slide easily from note to note, up and down and back again.
The reason I’m telling you all this is that today I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole coming-to-terms process. I’ve been thinking about it in terms of school grades, with the freshman class having just made the decision to live childfree or to stop fertility treatments, and having no idea how to start getting used to the idea. They eventually graduate to acceptance and begin to find a way to get happy, and ultimately go on to live a full and happy life without children.
But it’s really not that simple. You never really do hit all the notes precisely and in order. It’s much more like playing a trombone, where you slide from one state to the next and sometimes back again. One day, you’re content and determined to make the most of your situation, then something happens to trigger all those old emotions and you find yourself sliding back down. Then you get to talk someone who understands you and you feel like you can really figure this out…until your friend announces a pregnancy and back down you go again.
So, I’m wondering, where are you on the sliding scale of coming-to-terms? Where are you right now and have you been better or been worse? Do you feel that, even though you have setbacks, you’re slowly moving towards a place of peace, or can you see no way to ever come-to-terms with your lot in life? Or have you already been up and down the scale and have finally found a place of contentment? I’d like to know.
I have slowly come to terms, but I do have setbacks; however I know I am making progress. What would set me back two years ago doesn’t set me back so easily now. When somebody has a PG announcement I take it more in stride where it used to throw me into a fit of self-pity for a couple of days.
It’s taken a long time, but I’m getting there.
I guess I would be a sophmore most of the time. I’ve come to terms with my situation (5+ TTC). However, the “hope” does unexpectantly creep in from time to time. For example, I was reading an article the other day and found that there was a top fertility doctor near us. For a minute I thought (hoped)…then I turned the page. I tend to slide back more than slide forward.
i think we have come to terms most of the time, having stopped IVF about 6 years ago was our last one, as we felt the stress and unlikely outcome of a BFP wasn’t worth the near-nervous-breakdown that was the result of the disappointment!! I only happened upon the Infertile Mind (which brought me here!!) last week, and read with great interest the amazing posts, and this made me realise I’m not the only one out there who is living sans-kiddies!!! You never can tell when all the old feelings of wanting so badly to be pregnant and wanting to hold your own baby will rear up and bite you on the bum, but i think as time goes on they get easier to deal with,,, only slightly though!! i’ll keep reading, thanks for the great blog x
I’d say I’m a graduate, pretty much happily in tune most of the time. But that doesn’t stop me from occasionally sliding back down the scale, though whenever I do, I know that I’ll soon find my note again. Still, I don’t think I’ll ever have perfect pitch. (I love your music analogy). But that’s okay, because it’s made me who I am.
Coming to terms certainly is a sliding scale but I’m happy to say what triggered a meltdown a year ago only puts a lump in my throat today. I’m definitely happy to be taking steps forward instead of running around in circles trying to figure out which direction to take.
I’ve moved on, too. What used to upset me, now is just a annoyance. In fact, many times, I feel my infertility was a gift that I as just unable to appreciate. Sure, I still at times wish I was on the other side of the road with all the Moms, but this side of the road isn’t all that bad.
I am starting the coming-to-terms process. We have just made the decision to let go of all fertility treatments after TTC since May 2009 with 2 early losses. I laughed when I read about your trombone. I just picked up a rental clarinet last night to get back into playing and DH recently purchased a classical guitar. And I just got back from my first Yoga class in years. Imagine my horror and distraction when I was in the class and realized that a prenatal class was in the next time slot! I avoided looking at bellies on the way out and hurried to get ready in the change room. There are days when I feel stronger but I guess today wasn’t one of them.
Wow. What a great way to visualize the concept.
I’m all over the place, all up and down the scale. For me there doesn’t seem to be an easy progression from freshman to graduate. I doubt there ever will.
I KNOW that no children is the right place for us. I have a chronic illness that makes just functioning every day difficult. We’ve taken steps so that we are now unofficially mentoring a family (my husband calls it the “rent a kid” program). When we return the kids and i have to spend hours in bed, i know just how limited i am. It would be so hard to have our long desired baby, to finally be a mama, and not to be able to care for my child.
But that doesn’t change the fact that pregnancy/new baby announcements make me burn with envy. I still have sarcastic “oh goody for you” thoughts in my head when someone on Facebook posts a precious story about their child or grandchild, or that person says that the child/grandchild makes “life worth living.” Bitterness still lives within me, tho i try to banish it.
And i don’t yet begin to know how to handle the fact that not only do my husband and i have to come to terms with this, my MIL desperately wants to be a grandmama, even tho she isn’t pushing the issue. I think i hurt just as much for her as i do for us.
Still, life goes on. I didn’t add my blog to your list of “infertiles” because my blog deals mostly with day to day issues and i touch on childlessness only on a rare occasion. We are content with our lives/life together. We have carved out a lifestyle we like (given my limitations). It is hard, however, not to wish there could have been more.
i think i’m doing fine but then something happens and *wham* i’m right back to the start of the sliding scale again!
we’ve been ttc for 11 years this year and have suffered LOTS of miscarriages and it’s only this year that we are no longer trying – it’s just become too heartaching for me.
the Guv has always said that i am enough for him and i know that he is for me and yet that yearning for a baby, a child we’ve created together, to live beyond us as a testament to our love for one another is and always will be there, it will never disappear.
i may “come to terms” with never having children but i will never be accepting of it.
I am in my senior year for the second time on the TTC scale. The first time I graduated was when we decided to stop ttc after 3 very intense years. Friends progressed and crossed over, but I was able to look at their successes and pleas for us to try one more time with a wistful smile and the conviction that there was no way I was going back to that madness.
A surprise pregnancy (my one and only) and then loss at 43 brought me right back to ttc trauma. That was compounded by my sister getting pregnant and successfully bringing forth the first grandchild in 17 years.
Three years later and if I haven’t graduated I’m very close. Most days I’m fine, but I still don’t do baby pictures and movies about pregnancy. I mourn at Christmas, when we lost the baby, but in general I’m very content to come home, sit on the couch with a book and relax with the cats and husband. I’m almost back to where I was when I first graduated.
Your trombone analogy is excellent and while I’m happy with the notes I play I do know that there are the occasional off-pitch ones that creep in.
Thanks for a well-written post.
Kate B says
That is a great analogy! I think that I may be a senior. I’ve mostly come to terms – but you should have seen me a few days before Christmas when my BIL sent me a text saying “make sure you read our blog today” and there was the announcement that they are expecting their second child. I cried for over an hour – so I still haven’t graduated. But this weekend, with the powerball lotto up to $180 million, the dreams of what we would do came and while my usual dream of now being able to afford adoption was there, so was the realization that I will be 50 this summer. And a child adopted now would not graduate high school until I was nearly 70. That gave me pause. It made me think that it’s time I give up that dream. But I’m not quite ready to do that yet. So – senior year it is.
haha, the trombone analogy is brillant!
I’ve been sliding all the way back down to start again over the last two weeks… i felt near despairing, spent the weekend in tears, every mommy with kids on the train makes me feel sick…and a developed a lot of anger towards my therapist! Because i got the feeling that all those therapy session were just no use and it’s been over a year i’m seeing her by now! then i read a good book (about mastering any kind of crisis in life) and had a great talk just now with my mom’s best friend who remained childless herself and has been taking care of me over the last few months. she is a real gift i am so glad my mom arranged for her to talk to me. so a little slide up again tonight… but i’m scared. maybe i’m like a beginner trombone player: i feel like those notes just slide down again on their own without me having much control over it! perhaps it’s a question of practice – and the right breathing technique, maybe?
wow that analogy is really great :-)!
Love the analogy!! I wouldn’t say I’m a graduate, because I do have my sliding-down-the-scale days still. But I’m long past frosh week, thankfully. ; )
Well, what grade am I in when all I do is cry, cry, cry? I’m 44 & not in a relationship with menopause right on the horizon…I’ve been sliding into the aforementioned for about 5 years now, but, the sadness has intensified while I approach “the change”. I was hoping for a graceful descent or “slide” into a solitary, barren life, but, this is the most painful thing I have ever had to endure. I used to live a very active, purposeful life, but, as of late find myself so unmotivated & worst yet filled with self-loathing. I welcome comments from women like me who in years past indentified themselves with where I am now, but, currently live a joyous, victorious childfree life.
My marriage collapsed after we ended fertility treatment for many reasons. I kept hope for several years and had a seven week pregnancy at 45. The experience of being pregnant was heavenly. The miscarriage is as close to pure insanity I have ever come. Still had some hope for the next few years. Woke up one day and realized I didn’t want to be walking my kindergartner to class age 50 something. I have profound moments of sadness and grapple with fierce anger at times. I am learning to focus on what I have that people with children miss out on. My current love interest is good with the situation as it elevates stress, allows for greater freedom and he gets more of me. I know ultimately it is what I make of it.
This year we had 7 pregnancies at work. All the baby showers, gifts and appropriate comments came at an emotional price. Often, girls dinners turn to hours of mommy conversations and I basically am the odd girl out during those stretches. Working on how to handle that and would appreciate suggestions.
My friends and family are aging and babies are less and less frequent. Grand babies are the new horizon. I am hopeful that will be easier.
I am yet to come in terms with the fact that I can not be a mother.I don’t know when this chatter in my head will shut up. I am trying my best to be rational ,often keep on telling myself about the hazards of having babies, and even think myself lucky as compared to people who has lost their child or babies.but this awful yearning , craving and endless desire to have my own baby simply does not go away. To come in terms with my situation has become even more difficult as surprisingly in my entire social and family circle I am the only one who is childless !! I donno when I will make peace with it. even while I am writing this, half of my brain and my heart is in denial.
Coming to terms…. I don’t really think anyone can totally come to terms about the heartache of not being able to have a child. Im 46 and have known since I was 25, its definitely easier now but I still have those moments when something will set me off and the pain is so intense that I am left breathless for a second. It passes though and life goes on…. the biggest thing for me is being asked “do you have kids”…. I used to reply “no” but found this would immediately lead to the judgemental looks.. so now I reply “no unfortunately is wasn’t for us” then you get a totally different reaction… but I generally try to steer the conversations in another direction so as to avoid the uncomfortable platitudes that usually follow my declaration. Its been my experience that people with children including family will never truly understand what we got through being childless.
This is day 2 after the realization we most likely, probably, almost certainly (can’t bring myself to be definitive yet) won’t be having children. I’m 34, my husband is 43, and we always knew there was some male factor infertility issues, but we thought we overcame those issues with medication and suppliments, at least to the point a doctor agreed to do the IUI and we certainly had enough for IVF/ICSI. The day of the scheduled procedure I was taken into the doctor office instead of an exam room. My heart instantly sunk. No sperm. This is not the first time we have been told no sperm, but again, thought we overcame this. To have it re-occur is devastating and I’m not even sure how to begin accepting this is our life. You grow up expecting to become a mom. We are programmed to reproduce and survive. How do you suppress that desire and years of expectation. My husband is feeling like a failure and that he let me down and I’ve sunkin into a place I can only describe as grief. I can’t even think about all the “When are you having kids.” comments (we are newlyweds) or telling my family. It’s 8am Freshman Year and I have no idea where my first class is, or my locker or if I’m even in the right school… 🙁
Lisa Manterfield says
I’m sorry to hear about your loss. I know that sinking feeling well.
If what you’re feeling can only be described as grief, it’s because that’s exactly what it is. You’ve experienced the loss of your dreams, plans, identity, place in the world – all of it – and you’re going to grieve that loss like you would any other. Take your time, be kind to yourself, and know that what you’re feeling is normal.
Please take a look around the site as this is topic we talk about a lot. You’ll find some wonderfully supportive women in, some lost freshmen, like yourself, and plenty of seniors who’d be happy to show you around and help you find your locker. 🙂
Sending you warm wishes,