Guest Post, by Jane P (UK)
I first had a desire to accept—to let go of my plans for motherhood—when marriage issues and signs of depression followed six failed IVF cycles. My husband could not continue fertility treatment and I could not stop. I would not contemplate accepting infertility, as it meant a life without baby. After 17 years of marriage, the word “divorce” came up.
I asked my husband to help me accept. He agreed to come to a counselling session with me at our local GP. There, the Counsellor asked, “What would a world look like to you if you could accept?” A simple question and my response was along these lines:
The bickering and arguments would stop. We would laugh again, we would plan again—not just plan, but look forward to things. (I felt that I had been going through the motions of life.) I wouldn’t feel pain or anger every time I walked through the town or in the office, turned on the TV or heard a casual baby/child related comment from colleagues, friends. (Everything was a trigger. Every minute of every day I was consumed with a massive sadness that wouldn’t shift. I countered this thought for years with, “Next time we try it will be different.” It never was.)
So, I was left thinking about my reply to the question from the Counsellor. I needed to accept so that I could stop feeling the pain, I would stop arguing with my husband. We would feel love again, enjoy life again…
I started to seek help. This came from LWB and through continuing to speak to the Counsellor. We found a way back to each other and through a final IVF treatment with donor eggs that ended with emergency surgery for an ectopic pregnancy. For the first two years I was tormented with wanting to try again, wanting to stop, but I’d promised myself and my husband that this was the end of the line.
Four years on, we stopped pursuing any more treatment. I am now officially too old at 50! So, why do I still wake up frequently and stare at the ceiling every day before forcing myself out of bed? Still ask the same questions, still feel the same sadness at the “motherhood” and baby conversations I overhear, still want to run away when a colleague makes an announcement, or leave my desk before her presentation on leaving day?
Initially, I thought acceptance would mean no more pain, looking forward to life again. Well, my marriage is back on track. I definitely look forward to things and plan fun events and holidays. I seek to relish every day in small ways—my latte treat at 11:00, having my hair done, buying a new lipstick here and there.
The triggers are still there, though. They don’t have me running away anymore, and I counter the feelings with acknowledging the loss and rationalising that motherhood is full of difficult days as well as joyous ones. But, I still feel the pain, and recently I wondered if I have truly accepted.
The word “acceptance” conjures up a feeling that “it’s OK that I didn’t get to experience motherhood and hold my baby”. But it’s not OK. You can’t stop the pain and it’s unrealistic to not feel the loss in some way.
So, maybe I don’t have to completely accept. Perhaps this is now what acceptance means to me:
Allowing myself to live again, letting in joy, loving my husband. Not expecting to not feel sadness when I see pregnant women, small babies or toddlers.
It means, loving myself, valuing myself, grabbing the life I have and enjoying it again with as much passion as possible!
What does acceptance mean to you?
Note from Lisa:
Jane P (UK) has been a long-time member of the Life Without Baby community. We really appreciate her writing this heartfelt guest post.