I love the discussion and thought-provocation that being part of an online community provides, especially when the members are all in the same proverbial boat. A couple of days ago, someone asked, “how do we go back?” meaning, how do we go back to the time of naivety and carelessness of trying to have a baby and forget all this junk that’s been added to our race to the invisible finish line?
It’s a good question, and I’ve pondered it often, as well. How do Buddy and I ever forget the things we know now? Can we even? Would we want to? Obviously, we can never un-know something, realistically, and I can’t just forget the last 18 months – or more crucially, the last 6 months – of IF and its impact on us. We can’t go back to the days of timing sex and thinking hopefully, “maybe this is the day we added to our family.” It more than likely isn’t going to happen that way anymore. The days of planning how I would tell him and how we would surprise our families have passed. The wonder and innocence of how two can become three is gone, and it’s replaced by an understanding of science, hormone levels, and luteal phases.
The fact of the matter is, as much as IF has taken from us, we’ve gotten something back. I know without a doubt, more so than I did before, that Buddy is the perfect man for me. Without all this, I’m not sure that we would know so much of the most tender parts of each other, especially at this point in our marriage. He wouldn’t probably know my deepest fears, and I wouldn’t know this comforting and compassionate side of him. I mean, I knew he was a good man and compassionate, but I’ve gotten to see him as a caretaker of my heart, not just of our home. I’ve seen his patience and his hurt. There is no life event like IF to compare all these resulting emotions to. I’ve seen a side of my husband that I never would know without IF, and I love him more for it.
I also wouldn’t have the knowledge I do, or the compassion for others. If I’d just gotten pregnant a few cycles in, I wouldn’t have needed to research the things I do. I wouldn’t know my body and my cycles as well, if at all. I wouldn’t have knowledge to share with others. I wouldn’t have sensitivity for other women who are dealing with IF, and may have made thoughtless comments. As much as I hate why I know the things I do, I can’t help but be thankful for all I’ve learned over the past year and a half.
I also wouldn’t have some of the friendships I do with other women. There is a community among those of us who struggle for children. There’s a sweetness and understanding for others who have to endure testing and treatment. Even without treatments, there’s an unspoken bond among us who have to wait while we watch others be blessed with what we wish for the most. Without them, I’d be alone. Lost. Without a sense of belonging or understanding or compassion. I’m eternally grateful for their kinship, and I simply wouldn’t have it without the last 18 months.
Obviously, we can’t go back in time. We can never go back to April 11, 2010 – the day before cycle 1 began – and know what our race would have in store. Our relationship is changed forever because of it, just as we are each changed as individuals. We can’t be carefree and naïve and always assume that sex makes a baby and that everyone always gets their chance to be a biological parent. We can’t just close our eyes to all we've seen, or our ears to all we've heard. The anxiety, fears and sadness can’t be un-felt. It’s a part of mine and Buddy’s marriage. Even if we someday have a baby, we’ll always have this to look back on as a part of the glue that holds us together, and we’ll always know it made us stronger. We’ll know how lucky we are and remember to be grateful. If there is never a baby, it’s a part of our story. A painful one, but a part of it nonetheless. What matters is what we do with it, and how we move on from it.