By Lisa Manterfield
My friend was recently sideswiped by sadness. Like me, she’s been off the “baby train” for several years and has truly come to terms with the fact that she won’t have children.
Then she had a birthday and found herself totally sideswiped, caught off-guard by her grief, and in the kitchen having a meltdown.
She’s not sure and neither was I. Maybe her birthday signified moving one step closer to menopause and the final loss of the possibility of motherhood. Maybe spending time with a friend’s son reminded her of the missing part of her life. Maybe she was feeling alone in her family-oriented community.
The point is that sometimes, even when we’re sure we have it together, even when we’ve done the grief work, even when we’ve cried an ocean and think there’s nothing left to resolve, sometimes we just get sideswiped.
Has this happened to you? What unexpected trigger has caught you off-guard?
I find the below image the most helpful. It explains why, for no reason, after being in a great place you get swept back into the cycle. One day we will all be able to get out of the cycle….some of us have to make a few trips around first.
Different Shores says
Nice image! Might have to print that off.
Currently I find myself going back and forth between anger and sadness. I mean I went back and forth for a while about weather I even wanted kids. Then last year finding out I definitely am in premature menopause and then turning 40. SMH what a sideswipe. About a month ago I went to another doctor for another opinion and some facts and found out its definitely premature ovarian failure. And now I’ll be 41 in December. Sometimes I’m very, very angry and sometimes very, very sad. Sometimes things hit me harder. There are days I don’t know what to make of my feelings or what to do.
I was hit this weekend. Turned out to be that special brand of PMS, when my psyche picks the scab off a deep wound – just for fun. But I didn’t know that at the time. I had the unbearable feeling that I am only living half a life and not doing that very well. I’m not a real adult. I’m lazy and pathetic, because since I don’t have children I should be doing so much more with my time. Holidays are the worst.
Holidays are always the hardest! Though I am surrounded by nieces/nephews whom I love dearly, I feel empty. Sometimes a simple TV commercial will send me into the depths of despair. It is comforting to hear other voices who experience the same grief.
Yep. Just happened yesterday in church. The pastor went on and on and on about what a blessing children are and how he couldn’t even imagine his life without his 3. Then he talked about when they had their miscarriage and how they noticed every pregnant person, etc. Boo hoo. Try experiencing infertility for 13 years and now you’re pushing 50. I can handle the occasional reference to children being a blessing but not for 30 minutes! Cried about it for the first time in almost a year! I’m still contemplating emailing him because for the life of me I didn’t understand the message. Grrrrrr.
I don’t know if I would or not, but I would be very tempted to communicate my feelings to my pastor if he used his sermon to talk 30 minutes about the “blessings of children”. I found myself uncomfortable yesterday when my sister-in-law while visiting my home took a phone call from her daughter who lives out of state and had a baby 4 months ago. I felt forced to politely endure 30 minutes of Facetime while my SIL held her phone in front of me while making small talk about the baby and essentially just gushing about her (do I sound Irritated). While I understand that she is a proud grandmother I also felt that she was being a bit insensitive toward me too. This was after also after another visitor and this new grandmother talked for quite awhile about the joys of grandparenting as if I wasn’t even there. I really wanted to join the guys talking about football but it was a small crowd and I was too polite to be rude and not pay attention to them. I think I am one of the older members of this group (age 65) and if I can offer any reassurance it is that your skin will get thicker and even though there are still moments of sadness they are less and less (at least for me). I have also found ways to have activities that I am passionate about and don’t put so much value on the importance of having children that I used to. It saddens me more to see the suffering that infertility has caused for so many wonderful people. I wish you all the best as you navigate the pitfalls of holiday season.
I think people who haven’t experienced infertility have no idea they should be sensitive to our feelings. It’s like when children are involved that part of them shuts down. Sorry about your family gathering 🙁 Thanks for your encouragement:)
Different Shores says
Please do email him, sometimes people need to be made aware of how they are being insensitive. To say he couldn’t even imagine his life without his three children – horrific thing to say to a diverse crowd of people. Obviously clueless.
And the weird part is my husband just had a meeting with him. He’s only been our pastor since July and he asked if we have kids. My husband told him we aren’t able. So I was really shocked when he went on and on. I’m not a complainer and I’ve sat through my share of sermons hearing kids are a blessing but not for the whole sermon!!! I probably will email him. I just need to think about it. I don’t want to come off as whining but you’re right, he does need to hear it. Thanks!
Had a belated Thanksgiving with the in-laws yesterday, and gave our 7.5- and 6-year-old nephews a couple of boxes of my old Legos. It was absolutely the right thing to do: the nephews will get a kick out of them (and in fact already were, they scooted out to the van to start playing with them before we left), and there’s no point in them taking up space in our basement. But it was also a very concrete acknowledgement of what is Not To Be, that barring a miracle, we won’t have a child of our own to pass them on to. So it gave a melancholy cast to the rest of the day.
Yeah i had one of these, well a couple in a row actually. The hardest hit was Sunday. I forgot how December (Christmas) sermons are often the hardest for me. I initially didn’t feel it as bad as last year but there was still a part of me that wanted to escape. I thought I was doing a lot better this year but afterwards driving home I couldn’t stop crying. I love that image posted above by Kara, Totally true. It seems like an endless cycle but hopefully one day we will all be able to get out of it. I love that image of the Character Sadness posted here as well. That movie was awesome. We are all a mix of emotions but truly Joy and Sadness share the controls and sometimes Sadness overruns it.
I just wrote a blog post about my latest sideswipe — a Christmas-themed coffee commercial, of all things…!
Different Shores says
I usually think I’m OK but the one thing that sideswipes me is thinking I’m going into menopause – it destroys me. Why, when my body didn’t work anyway, I don’t know. I already felt old and ancient when I had no ovarian reserve at 37. Menopause confirms that you’re entering the final phase of life, and the worst thing you can do is google it – horrendous (I’m not saying don’t be educated about it, but it reads like a horror story). I had a few ‘off’ months and thought the M was coming and had such spiraling catastrophic thoughts that I felt suicidal. I know it will happen again if I go through another irregular stretch. Awful. I’m trying to be more mature and positive about it but I had no idea it was so hard for infertile women.
Premature menopause (at 39) and premature ovarian failure is what made me infertile. So I understand. I am about to be 41 and I told my doctor I don’t feel like some menopausal old lady. I have no menopausal symptoms. Its a new doctor and she’s very reassuring and kind and told me I was not an old lady. I already feel like less of a woman considering I stopped my periods early and don’t produce the hormones I should be.
this is my first time commenting on any blogs about a baby-less life. I often find myself forcing a smile and digging up a giggle when my friends have their babies or when someone in my social circle that they are expecting again. I can go for months without thinking about it and then all of a sudden in the quiet of my mind the sadness comes sometimes with tears and sometimes just a heaviness.
Lisa Manterfield says
Welcome, Tabitha. I’m very glad you found us.