Claire (UK): Hope is the thing with feathers
I have always been a hopeful coper. A slight penchant for drama perhaps, but generally able to manage my life, to find a solution, to do the thing. An optimistic drama queen at least. Ha! I think that is why infertility has taken me so by surprise. There is no easy solution – every potential course of action throws up more questions than it does answers. Questions I don’t want to have to answer. I found out that both my husband and I were less than stellar on the fecundity front at the same time as I found out that my Dad’s cancer had returned and was terminal. This has not helped my capacity to cope. Family follows family, my dad said that a lot as he lay, visibly reducing, fading away before my eyes. Except I am not going to have my own family now. I am the end. I will not see my father’s chocolate brown eyes looking back at me out of the face of my child. My blood will not flow in my child’s veins as my father’s does in mine. The realisation of that still takes my breath away. Literally. I remember sometimes, both that he is actually dead (a fact so seemingly ridiculous that my brain seems intent on erasing it) and that there will be no baby to follow him, and it is a physical injury, a low blow to my stomach, I have to steady myself against wall or furniture until it passes and I can breathe again.
One by one my coupled-up friends have got pregnant, had their first, second and sometimes third child. I battle with jealousy. I am happy for them – their happiness, their family, I don’t want them not to have it. I just want it too. I struggle at events with the in-laws. The way that they look at the littlest member of their family, the beautiful, perfect child who looks just like them. The living and breathing proof that they all exist. They don’t really know what to say to me, what can they say? I get a puppy, so profound is my need to be needed, to nurture. It just makes me feel even more pathetic. I battle with a sadness so all-consuming that at one point I do not care if I live or die. I lie down. I am beaten. For the first time in my life I am truly beaten. My husband and I discuss divorce. He does not feel as I do about the possibility of adoption. He can’t see it in his future. He can’t give me an alternative plan, “We’ll just live our lives. Plenty of people don’t have children.” For the first time in our nine year relationship I consider what it would be like to live without him. I feel my marriage slipping away from me.
Some days I am so angry that I hate the world. I hate with a fury so dark and broad that it frightens me. I am frightened that I will always feel like this, that I won’t be able to stop this new bitterness from taking over my soul. Mostly though I just feel lost and alone. This is not what I had planned. I am not sure if I have the energy to make a new plan. I don’t want to make a new plan. I always said that life was not going to be something that “just happened to me”. Turns out that was before it started happening to me.
I have counselling. It helps to have someone who just listens to me and who doesn’t tell me I need to speak to a counsellor! Ha! I start to feel more able to reason things out. To see a future without a family. It is early days but life is bearable again, I look forward to feeling joy, it can’t be this dark for this long and light not be around the corner. It just can’t. I still don’t know where I am going but I’m hopeful for the first time in the longest of times. I’ll take that.