Today’s prompt for Capture Your Grief says to share whatever is on your heart. What you want the world to know about your kind of grief. Here’s a glimpse at what’s been weighing on my mind.
It’s complicated. Grief is complicated. Infertility is complicated. The idea of expanding our family beyond Zoey when we really only wanted one child is complicated. It’s all layered together. Connected. Intertwined. I can’t compartmentalize the experiences.
We took a break from fertility treatments over the summer. I don’t think saying I’m tired can fully encapsulate how I feel about this process. After more than a year of treatment and tracking with no success, we moved on to IUI. Between appointments that I was on my way to when I received a call from the office kindly saying “don’t bother to come” to a meltdown in the office before our first attempt, it was a hot mess. After the failed attempts, it was time to go back and sit with our doctor to discuss next steps. I’ve been weary of IVF. And now I’m even more so. I thought were finished with the mentally exhausting appointments with doctors. I was wrong.
They take an egg. They fertilize. Simple, right? Not so fast. There are many decisions you have to make along the way. Ones I never thought I’d grapple with. But then I had Zoey. And she changed everything.
I don’t want to make choices about selective reduction. Genetic testing. Do you implant if they find out there is something wrong? How many do you implant? What happens to the eggs that aren’t implanted? Do you donate them to another family and then live with the knowledge that more of your biological children could be out in the world? And yes, we could leave some of this up to chance just like you would if a pregnancy would occur naturally. But should we knowing our history? And my age? They say “odds are”, but we’ve fallen on the crappy side of those before.
All this at the low, low cost of about $25,000 per attempt with no guarantee. My current insurance doesn’t cover any of it. I feel guilty for putting a cut off price on a child. But life has given me perspective on things and I don’t know if that’s the responsible decision for us. Even putting the cost aside, I’m not sure IVF is the right choice for our family. And to be honest, I’m scared of being pregnant again. I know too much now. I’d basically put aside pursuing that option until I received an email from our corporate office hinting that in the new year they may start covering more progressive fertility care. Now it may be back on the table, but we have to wait for more information.
I actually thought all signs were pointing to adoption. I started preliminary research. And it isn’t any easier. There are success stories. And horror stories. It could take 2-3 years. You have to put together a dossier. And you have to do a home study. Where someone comes into your home and asks you about your past, your family background, your relationship, your support system, beliefs on discipline and structure. It is overwhelming and terrifying. Because what if they look at us and think we’re just too much of a mess? What if they think we haven’t handled our grief well enough? What if they think we’d be terrible parents? What if nobody chooses us? And it does make you think—how would we incorporate this new child into our lives? How would we explain to them that they not only have biological parents out there in the world, but that they also have a sister they will never meet because she died?
And then there are more decisions. Are you willing to accept a child of a different race? Age? What about disabilities? Will you accept a child with a cleft lip, club feet (sound familiar?), and a host of other conditions both physical and emotional? Again, how do you make those choices? Am I a terrible person if I say no? I love Zoey unconditionally. I loved her little feet and lip and all those little things that were a sign of her condition but made her—her. But just what conditions are we open to choosing to bring into our lives?
I’m sure I do not fully understand the process. I know I’m missing pieces. That’s what happens when you’re exhausted. And when you thought you were finished with really difficult decisions. If you have to choose whether or not to do CPR on your infant when they are born, if you have to choose hospice for your newborn, if you have to make these choices, you should be free from all other decisions including where to go for dinner. Maybe this process wouldn’t feel so overwhelming if I didn’t already feel like I’ve been beaten down. If I didn’t constantly have to reassure myself that I did what was right for my daughter.
I don’t want to be going through any of this. I just want her. I miss her. I often lay at night waiting to fall asleep with the weight of grief pressing on my chest instead of my little girl. But I also don’t know how to give up on the idea of having a child with me. One to make cookies with. One to greet me at the finish line at the Disney race I do for Zoey. One to watch take first steps and to tell me they hate me when I don’t let them take the car. I don’t want a replacement for her but I love being her mom. I’m not sure how and when to give up on mothering another child. And I think Joe is an amazing dad. It’s not fair that I can’t give that experience to him again. I have to try really hard not to dwell on the unfairness of all of this. I think we’re good people. We were good parents to our little girl. Why didn’t we get to keep her? Why don’t we get that chance again?
I honestly don’t know where we go from here. Or how to find the energy to decide.