Head F*ck

I sat in the chair in the hallway, leg vibrating, eyes shifting nervously. I turned on my phone and entered the passcode clumsily, messing up on the first try. I loaded my reader but there were no new posts. I scrolled quickly through my FB feed but there was nothing I hadn’t already seen. I checked my email but there were no unread messages. I finally went into my Photos and just scrolled through a set of shots I took that morning, my son smiling back at me in thirty almost identical ways.

One minute. Two minutes.

I put down my phone and stretched my neck. It cracked loudly on one side and then another. I rummaged through my purse, not looking for anything really, just trying to kill time.

This is silly, I thought. Why are you so afraid? You only asked to put your mind at ease, but you already know the answer.

But what if that is not the answer? What if?

The nurse swung around the corner and smiled. The test is negative.

I take a breath, a gasp really, and put my phone back in my purse. As I stand up to leave I realize my heart is pounding.

Thank god it’s negative. I repeat over and over again. I shove my hands in my sweatshirt pocket to keep them from shaking.

*  *  *  *  *

The Thursday before we left for St. Louis I felt really bloated, crampy and emotional and I realized my period had been due earlier that week. When I say due I mean, it had been 24 days since the first day of my last period and my cycles are generally 20 days long. With the bloating and cramping, I was sure my period would come the next day. It didn’t. Eventually I lost the bloat and stopped feeling crampy and my period still didn’t show. On Friday night I tore the scar tissue from my first labor, creating an open wound. I made an appointment for Monday morning, just hours before our flight boarded.

I was super busy all weekend packing for our trip, but I was constantly aware of the fact that period still hadn’t shown. By Monday morning it was CD27. I almost never have cycles that long without changing my diet, adding supplements and getting weekly acupuncture treatments. Still, this was only my third postpartum cycle, plus I’d been on the stressful trip to Disneyland right around when I would have ovulated, so there were two likely, non pregnancy-related reasons my period was late.

We had also been very careful that month, just like we always are. We had used protection the two measly times we had had sex. There really was no way I could be pregnant. And yet, that is exactly how I felt the month we got pregnant with Monito. After that random week of BCPs messing up my cycle, I wasn’t even sure I ovulated that month, and if I had it had happened FOUR DAYS after we had sex. I was sure I wasn’t pregnant that month, but then I was. Now, again, the uncertainty weighed on me.

I haven’t really written about it here but I am so thankful for that “surprise” BFP. That was always a dream of mine, to get a surprise positive pregnancy test, but since we never had unprotected sex when we weren’t officially trying, there was no possibility of that. In the months while we were trying for a second child a substantial (it felt to me) number of IF bloggers I read announced surprise BFPs and each one was like a sucker punch to the stomach. I wanted that so badly and I knew I would never have it. We would ALWAYS be trying until we got pregnant and we’d never leave a third child up to chance. I had missed out on something that seemed so incredibly magical.

But then I did get to experience that, in a way, because we hadn’t really been trying that month and I really didn’t think there was any way I could be pregnant, and then I was. And it was amazing. And I’m so grateful I got to have that experience, of getting pregnant against all odds, when I we hadn’t had timed sex and I hadn’t been tracking symptoms throughout the 2WW. I was just waiting for my period to come so we could finally start trying again after our shitty diagnoses and my HSG. I never in a million years thought we might be pregnant.

That surprise pregnancy was a gift, one I never took for granted. But now I realize it also instilled something else in me: the thought that I might get pregnant even when it seems impossible to me. I can’t tell you what a head fuck that is, after years of perfectly timed sex NOT resulting in a pregnancy, to be worried that protected sex might somehow result in a pregnancy. It feels like a cruel joke.

It’s also a head fuck to not want to be pregnant. Especially since *I* would like to be pregnant, but I know my partner would not. We’ve had some painfully difficult conversations about having a third child. The “A” word came up and it’s clear that our differences of opinions on what we’d want to do if I did end up pregnant again could lead to the end of our marriage. Every time I wonder if I might be pregnant I’m faced with the reality that another child, one I would whole heartedly welcome into the world, could destroy my relationship. I am reminded that my husband and I feel so differently about this that we probably couldn’t find a common ground. It sucks to have that possibility invading my thoughts.

That is why my heart was racing and my hands were shaking, not because I was so relieved not to be pregnant, but because I was so relieved not to have to face that reality. I was so relieved that I didn’t have to have that heartbreaking conversation with my husband, the conversation that might dismantle our life together.

I hate living this way. I hate that there is a chance and that I have to fear it. I hate that my body is just fucked up enough to make late periods a probability, but not common enough that I can shrug them off. I hate that our diagnoses make it almost impossible for us to get pregnant, but that there is always a chance, no matter how small. I hate that I’ve never gotten pregnant without drastically overhauling my diet, taking tuck loads of supplements and getting acupuncture for months, and yet I’ll always assume that it might happen, that anything is possible.

I picked up a brochure for the copper IUD at the doctor’s office that Monday. Mi.Vida is planning on getting a vasectomy but I doubt it will happen any time soon. I don’t really want it too, to be honest. The finality of it scares me, it shuts a door that I’m not ready to be closed. In the meantime I might get an IUD. My NP suggested Mirena, since my cycles are so short, but I hate the idea of putting hormones into my system when there is another way. I’m going to research both options and I’ll probably give one of them a try.

Getting an IUD feels like putting a bandaid over a gaping wound, but it’s a step in the right direction, or it’s a step in some direction anyway. And I need a direction right now, because I can’t stand being in this place, where my current mindset seems to disrespect our past struggle. I can’t stand not wanting to be pregnant, when that’s not really how I feel. I can’t stand holding my breath and hoping the test comes back negative when I prayed for a positive for all those years. It’s just too much of a head fuck and I don’t want to deal with it. So I need to create a world in where I know it’s not an issue, and hopefully later I’ll be more prepared for the finality of actually letting go.

{In case you’re wondering, my period finally showed the following Thursday, on CD31. Took long enough.}

What are your current or future “birth control” plans? Do you think it will be hard/is it hard to be in a place that is so different from actively trying? Are you and your partner on the same page about when your family will be complete?


I know I’ve written before about the gratitude I feel about having a second child and how happy I am that our family can finally feel complete. But I would be lying if I said it isn’t hard sometimes to walk away from the idea of a third kid. I don’t know where it originally came from–I only have one living sibling so it’s not like I’m trying to recreate the kind of family I grew up in by having three kids. Maybe I’m trying to have the family my parents wanted but didn’t get. My mom wanted four kids and my dad wanted two so they settled on three. But then my sister died and my mother had three stillbirths so they stopped when my only living sister was born. Maybe I wanted three kids because they couldn’t have three themselves.

Three kids is not in the cards for us. And honestly, a lot of the time I’m totally okay with that. A lot of the time I actually think it’s what’s best for our family. We live in an expensive city. The only way we survive here financially is through the very generous help of family, family we can’t depend on forever. It would be selfish of us to ask them to help us with a third child and without their help, we absolutely couldn’t afford childcare for three children.

We can’t afford it, my husband doesn’t even want it, and our fertility issues make it all but impossible. Not having a third child isn’t even a choice for us. It isn’t meant to be. Our family is complete. And yet… it’s hard sometimes. It’s hard to let go of that original dream. It’s hard not to wonder… what if?

I think it will be hard for me, when people I know start having third children. I almost asked my friends yesterday, the ones who have kids close in age to our own, if they were planning on having a third child (they have initiated the conversation in the past, which is the only reason I would ask now). I know they originally wanted four, but then decided that was too much and even said once that they might be done at two. I’m guessing they’ll have three. I’m guessing my cousin will have three. Probably quite a few of our friends will have three. It’s something I have to be ready for, people expanding their families while ours stays the same size. I will be very happy for them, but it will be hard not to consider our own family size and not think of my original dreams. Watching someone do what you can’t, but wanted to, do is difficult, even when you know in your mind that what they have isn’t what’s best for your family.

Our hearts are stubborn forces. I wish our minds held more sway over them. I wish all the rational thinking that helps me know it’s right for us to be a family of four could keep my heart convinced.

There are other feelings swirling around this issue too. One is the immense gratitude I feel that we even have two children. I really didn’t think we’d get to have a second child and then we did and he’s amazing and I am so thankful. There is also guilt, because I have TWO children and so many people want a second child, or any children at all, so who I am to want a third? And honestly, I know this isn’t a popular sentiment in this community but I truly believe that I SHOULD be grateful, JUST grateful for what I have when I know so many people who have less. I get that we all want what we want and we have our own dreams for our family and we can grieve those dreams. I get that, I do, but I also think it’s kind of selfish of me to wish I had more when so many people have less. This is just how I feel about myself, it’s a deeply personal expectation (as in, I don’t expect others to feel that way, nor do I think they should) and most of the time I live up to it, but sometimes I falter.

Like when Mi.Vida talks about scheduling his vasectomy (have I mentioned how much Mi.Vida DOESN’T want to have another kid?) and the finality of that action settles like cold stone in my stomach. I feel that tight weight when I get rid or something from Monito’s infancy, like the co-sleeper and bouncy chair I recently sold.

And then there are moments, like yesterday, when I pulled out the baby food ice trays and I thought, “When I stored these away I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to use them again. I can’t believe how lucky I am that I’m pureeing carrots for a second child.” In those moments I am flooded with this warmth of gratitude, I literally feel it wash through my body like a wave, emanating heat from deep within me. It’s an incredible feeling, one I can wrap myself in for week, and even months, at a time.

The feeling of wishing I could have a third child is murkier. It’s more distant, like a memory of something that happened in the distant past. It’s not usually a visceral reaction, like my gratitude, it’s more like that tingle you get in your jaws when you think of eating something sour. It’s intense for a short moment, but it fades quickly and then you barely even register that it’s there.

That is where my wanting a third child is now. Just a tingle in my jaw when I read a post, or see a family that might be announcing their third pregnancy. It’s a very dully ache that I can’t quite place and that disappears before my mind can linger on it.

I’m sure I’ll oscillate between these two feelings a lot in the coming years, as those we know build their families while we do not. I just hope that I swing to the side of gratitude and acceptance more than to the side of envy and wanting, because I do have so much and our family is so very lucky.

What is your experience with infertility and family size? How do you feel about it?


It still trips me out to write, or say, “my kids.” With an -s. Plural. More than one. I have two children.

Every time I say it, I skim my fingers over the surface of an immense well of gratitude. Sometimes I feel complete and utter shock. Still.

I imagine it seems odd, that I feel so surprised to have a second child. It’s not like I struggled for very long with secondary infertility. But honestly, after we were given such dismal chances of having another baby, compounded by the knowledge that we couldn’t have afforded much in the way of treatments, I was working hard at accepting we wouldn’t have another child. I knew Mi.Vida wouldn’t stand for years and years of TTC on our own, and we were planning on doing the TCM diet/acupuncture for about six months before calling it quits. We were only half way through that six months when we got pregnant, but I had already traveled far on the path of accepting life without a second child. In fact, I was finishing a book on fostering-to-adopt–and admitting to myself that Mi.Vida would never feel comfortable doing it–when we found out the improbable had actually happened.

There is truly not a day that goes by that I don’t actively give thanks for this baby in our lives. I still can’t really believe our family is complete.

I was giving even more thanks than usual this weekend. We attended two birthday parties, one on Saturday and one on Sunday–both were FILLED with two-children families. In fact, all the families that didn’t have two kids were either pregnant with their second, or planning on having a second (their firsts were not yet one). I spent much of both parties, thinking of how upset those situations made me when we were trying for our second child, how devastated I would have been standing there, among all the four person families, if we didn’t have our baby boy. Instead of holding back tears the whole time I was showing off my sweet son. Instead of wondering why I couldn’t have what they had, I was thanking my lucky stars that I did.

Not long ago Mo wrote a post about the “Paradoxes of Gratitude” after infertility that really struck me. I know I never got to the place that she did–I didn’t endure a fraction of what she went through to build her family–but I have an idea of where’s she’s coming from when she expresses the deep gratitude that comes from really truly believing that you have lost the battle, that you won’t have the child you’ve been fighting for. Journeying to a life re-imagined, a life forever marked by infertility, and then being handed the life you always hoped for, it burns away so much of the grief. Gratitude seeps into all the cracks, it bolsters the foundation, it makes you whole again. At least, that is what it did to me.

So instead of spending my time at those birthday parities grieving over all the long hours I suffered in similar situations before, I rejoice in how wonderful they feel now, in how lucky I am that now they are moments of celebration, not suffering.

Because I have my kids, plural. And I feel so indescribably lucky.

Do you ever find yourself in situations that used to trigger grief? How do they feel now?

There’s no scrapbook for that

I’m not sure if I’ve been inspired by the BAZILLIONS of bloggers in my reader feed who are participating in the Who Needs It Declutter Challenge or if I’ve just hit the wall at my own, shit-strewn house but I have decided that I’m using these final days before I go back to work to try to cull through the crap and make sure that ALL THE THINGS HAVE A PLACE because right now, it seems a good deal of them just float around on counters or the floor, never ending up at a final destination.

If I can’t find a place for something?! I will THROW THAT SHIT AWAY.

So I’m spending the precious moments when my son is asleep during the day, or when my in-laws are kind enough to take him, and tackling problem areas in my house. Today I finished Monito’s room, where I got rid of all his 0-3 month clothes, a bunch of baby blankets (seriously, we’re never going to use the 15 we ended up with–and where did they all come from?! I’ve never bought one in my life!) and other random things that just lay around without a home. I also did the three plastic junk drawers in our kitchen, which were so disgusting they had to be emptied and WASHED. Gross.

Tomorrow I’m going to tackle Osita’s room, which shouldn’t be so bad as I’ve been doing it in bits and pieces since before the baby was born.

The big one will be our room, where shit just accumulates on the floor as if by magic. I am going to be really harsh about throwing shit away in there. If I don’t have a good place to put it, OUT OF SIGHT, then it is going in the trash. I don’t care if some day I regret throwing it away. THAT SHIT NEEDS TO GO.

So as I was culling through the crap today, I came across a small folder with our infertility paperwork. There were A LOT of papers in there. More than I expected. More than I remembered. There were lab requests and lab results and SA scipts and SA results and informational packets and bills and all these pieces of paper with medical evidence suggesting we wouldn’t have another child. I remember looking at those pieces of paper, all the medically significant numbers they held, and realizing that they stated, pretty damn clearly, that our family building days were over. We couldn’t afford treatments and even if we could, with those numbers? It would be insanity to throw a couple hundred dollars at the effort, let alone tens of thousands.

Holding those papers, I felt the finality of my belief that we weren’t having another child. I could see those thoughts so clearly, I was just so sure we were done. And it was everything in that folder that convinced me.

I started at the folder for a long time and then texted Mi.Vida, asking him if I could recycle it. He quickly responded with an unceremonious, “yes.”

And with that, I walked into the kitchen and dumped the folder into the recycle bin.

Not five minutes later I came across a file with a stack of unused BBT charts. I thought Osita could draw on the backs so I threw them in with her art supplies and that’s when I realized that at the bottom of the pile were my charts from way back when I was trying for my first pregnancy, before I even joined FertilityFriend and started charting online.

Leafing through those charts really took me back. Tracing my fingers over the dark scrawls, remembering how desperately I marked every temperature, recorded every symptom, wondering WHY it wasn’t working, why I wasn’t getting pregnant. Looking at those charts now I see so many patterns that eluded me when I first started. How could I not see how short those 20 day cycles were? How did I not realize they signaled a rapidly declining ovarian reserve and future infertility?

As I glanced at each terribly short cycle, I finally came across an incredibly long one. The jagged line marched all the way across the page. When did I ever have a cycle like that? I wondered, confused. And then I realized. It was the cycle of my ectopic pregnancy. I kept taking my temperature every morning, for weeks after I got my BFP. I just wanted the reassurance that I was still pregnant, that things would be okay. I took it all the way up until the day I started cramping and bleeding–two days before I landed in the ER and found out my hard-won pregnancy was ectopic.

Staring at that BBT chart I was flooded with emotions. It was like I could feel the weight of each one of those days, so simply recorded as a tiny circle traced around a specific number, each one of those markings representing an anguished 24 hours of elation, uncertainty, and terror. I thought about the girl who circled each one of those temperatures, tentatively assuming all would be well, despite being so scared something would go wrong. Each day she made a small circle and hoped so fiercely for the best. I felt such sadness for that girl, who didn’t know what was in store, who didn’t know that her silly temperature taking could never keep the horror of losing her pregnancy at bay.

After many long moments of reliving those days, I took the BBT charts I had used and stuffed them into the recycle bin, right next to our RE folder. In so many ways, it felt wrong to throw those things away. They are tokens of a terrible, but important and transformative, time. Shouldn’t I save them, as a reminder? Except I don’t need them any more and I want, no I NEED, to get rid of everything I don’t need. There isn’t space in my life, not physically or emotionally, for stuff I’m not using. And thankfully, I don’t need BBT charts, or my infertility history, anymore. And frankly, I don’t really need the reminders.

I found those papers in a book shelf in our hall, the same book shelf that houses all our photo albums. Those papers were right above Osita’s four photo books, the memories of my college days, chronicles of vacations we’ve taken in the past. Those books are chalk full of papers, little memories folded into the scrapbooks of our lives. But there are no scrapbooks for infertility and loss. It’s not appropriate to fold the BBT chart from my lost pregnancy into Osita’s first photo book, or even the book from my successful pregnancy. That loss was separate from those happy times. It paved the way to them, but it shouldn’t be included with them. And our infertility does not define my son’s birth. That folder doesn’t have a place in his keepsake box, already brimming with cards of congratulations, the plaque from his hospital bassinet, our labor and delivery bracelets, the first onsie he wore. Again, those memories paved the way to our son, but their legacy isn’t something I want to take up space in the box where I store tokens from his life.

I chose to throw away those pieces of paper but I know I can never throw away the memories they provoke. And I wouldn’t want to even if I could. I wish I could say that throwing them away were symbolic, that I felt lighter after doing it, but I didn’t. Those dark places are still there, in my heart, and dumping some papers can never lighten that load.

But it can get a bunch of paperwork out of my book shelf.

What do you do with the keepsakes of your pain? Do you keep them or throw them away?

Where Infertility Dropped Me Off

Sometimes I’m not quite sure where infertility left me. It’s like I was in this car, on this horrible, terrifying ride, and as it careened this way and that, I was flung from the passenger seat and left in the dust.

Of course I am thrilled to be out of the car and to find that I have escaped relatively unscathed, but I’m not quite sure where I am, or even how I’m doing. I’m still kind of in shock, and I’m realizing that it will take time to figure what, if any, damage was sustained, and where I ended up when I fell.

It’s weird. Sometimes I think I’m absolutely fine, it’s like it never even happened. My not-very-good friend from high school (that I see maybe three times a year) is due in March and I’m finding myself really excited about her baby. I’m giving her all my gender neutral clothes and lots of other baby gear, helping her build her registry and consulting on her baby shower (her mom and sister are throwing it). I am continually surprised by my interest in her pregnancy–especially since she flat out told me she got pregnant on the first try (why would you tell that to someone you KNOW had issues?!). I don’t really get why I’m okay immersing myself in this friend’s pregnancy when in the past I’ve avoiding the pregnancies of fertiles like the plague.

And then there are other moments where a simple sentence will send me reeling. It may be something I read in a blog post, or something I see on Facebook but all of the sudden the pain comes rushing back, and I feel like I’m drowning in how awful it feels. Sometimes I find myself holding my breath, like I’m literally underwater, unable to breathe.

The weirdest thing is I’m never sure what is going to set me off. Sometimes I see a pregnant belly and it hardly registers. Other times I see one and I’m paralyzed with fear for the woman, for what she may lose. Sometimes I see a baby bump and I feel wistful, wishing it were me. Other times I’m relieved that those days are forever behind me, that I never have to worry about pregnancy loss again.

Pregnancy announcements, birth stories, breastfeeding experiences… sometimes I respond to them in ways that surprise me. I guess I just wonder if that will always be the case. Will there always be those tender spaces that take my breath away and leave me reeling? Or will I eventually heal and one day realize that all these topics are as mundane to me as talk of the weather or traffic patterns? At this point I guess I just can’t know. I’ll have to wait and see.

Do your responses to certain subjects surprise you? Do you feel you know where infertility dropped you off?

Not sure what to think

Such a coincidence that I put up that post yesterday morning… And then this happened.

I had a normal day. I felt fine. I turned in our marriage license, got our marriage certificate and bought extra copies of our children’s birth certificates. I ate at my favorite taco place. I visited my colleagues during their lunch hour at school. I bought some of the big 8oz Medela bottles so that I don’t have to stop and empty them half way through my morning pumping session. I took Monito to the chiropractor again.

Then, on the way back to the car I started to feel sick and light headed. I realized I hadn’t eaten in six hours and my mouth was dry as a desert. After I got Monito into the car I felt a wave of nausea and started dry heaving behind the wheel.

I couldn’t quite figure out what I was feeling, but the closest approximation was morning sickness.

“Holy shit!” I thought. “I couldn’t be pregnant, could I?” I started to panic.

We’d certainly had enough sex, but we’d been really careful. I hadn’t had a postpartum period yet but there had been some noticeable CM a few times. I wasn’t nursing but I was pumping 35-40 oz a day. Of course people got pregnant when they were breast feeding.

I didn’t know what to think.

I rushed home, where my mom had Osita. I told her I wasn’t feeling well, and immediately ran into the bathroom where I thanked god that I still had some FRERs.

Then I peed on one. And I waited.

And for the first time in my life, I prayed that it was negative.

All I could think was how upset Mi.Vida would be, how we’d get in a huge fight over what to do, how we’d be totally fucked financially, how I would have a 4.5 year old and a one year old and newborn. How I didn’t think I could do it. How I didn’t want to be the infertile asshat who got pregnancy spontaneously not once after her diagnosis, but twice!

And yet there was this tiny part of me that thought, how wonderful it would be, the anticipation of adding to our family. The miracle of another life.

Three minutes later the test was clearly negative and I breathed an audible sigh of relief. And then I felt like I didn’t even recognize myself. Who was this woman who didn’t want to be pregnant? Where had the woman I was for five years gone?

I ended up vomiting. It was epic. And then I got the shivers and had a bit of a fever. And then I started feeling somewhat better. I are some rice and went to bed.

This morning I have a ragging headache and still feel kind of nauseous but I’m better. I suppose it was me favorite taco place that did it. I’m thankful it’s not the flu.

I’m thankful I’m not pregnant.

And I don’t really know how I feel about it, at all.

No Longer Applicable

It’s 4am and I’m pumping. I’ve been up since 2:30am because it turns out both my kids got the memo about an early morning soiree.

It still trips me out to say “kids.” Every single time I stop and think how lucky I am.

While I was rocking Monito to sleep, I realized I never read the posts in last week’s Round Up. So I moseyed on over there to check them out. One of them was written on a blog about stillbirth: a baby boy who was lost at 39 weeks.

I realized as I read the post that this was the first time I’d read about stillbirth since my son’s birth. As we all know, it’s hard to process stories of loss, even when we don’t know the person we’re reading about. One of the ways I’ve always dealt with those stories is by wondering if that would ever be me. Would my own child die before I’d ever meet him? The mere possibility that something so awful might happen was more than I could bear.

Reading the post today I realized that my fear of such a tragedy happening to me no longer applies. I will not be having any more children, I will not experience the stillbirth of a child. That horrible tragedy is not a part of my story. I can’t tell you how strange it is to be able to push that fear aside, not because it probably won’t happen but because it definitely won’t. This is a fear I’ve held close to my heart for years and years, probably since I was a young girl process the death of my own siblings. To be able to finally, now, let it go, is hard to wrap my head around.

I felt a similar sentiment at the OB’s office last week. Sitting on the chair outside the office, getting my blood pressure taken, I glanced up at all the fliers for pregnant women, chronicling fetal development through the different weeks of a pregnancy. I used to look at those fliers and cringe when I saw the months still ahead, wondering if I’d make it to those milestones. Losing my child inside me was always a part of my experience; so few thoughts about pregnancy (and life) were not tainted by the possibility that it could all be lost.

But it wasn’t lost. My daughter arrived safely three and half years ago and then my miracle son followed. Stillbirth is not my story. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for that.

So now it’s time to let it go, that fear that has lingered in the back of my mind, in the corners of my heart, for all these years. It’s just one of many fears I’m working on releasing. It takes a lot of work to dislodge these phantom fears and expel them once and for all. Sometimes I wonder if they’ll always be there, if I’ve lived with them for so long that I’ve molded myself around them; even in their absence, my psyche holds their shapes, empty pockets where they once lived.

I do know that I see things differently now. It’s a subtle change in my attitude towards so many things: seeing a pregnant woman out in public, hearing the news that someone is expecting, talking about whether a family is planning on having another child. All these experiences feel different to me, as I shed the fears that loss and infertility nurtured in me. It’s strange to see the world from this new lens of a completed family. I no longer have to wonder, to project my own uncertainty onto the experience of others. My family is complete, the fear no longer applies.

It’s a freeing feeling, to be sure, but sometimes it seems like something is missing. I wrote before about how I’m moving past the family building portion of my life, and saying goodbye to the hold that loss and infertility had on me. It is, of course, a positive development, but ultimately it’s more complicated than just good or bad. As Josey put it in the comment section of my previous post, walking away from infertility is a loss too: the loss of an identity, the loss of a point of common bond, the loss of a certain perspective.

I doubt I’ll ever really be able to abandon the perspective infertility imprinted on me, but I do notice the shifts in the way I see things. Certain touchstones are growing smaller–some are simply not there–and without them I’m left groping, unable to cope in the ways I’m familiar with. When I read the stories of other people’s loss, I can no longer couch my discomfort in fears about my future. Now I must face them head on. I must look the pain of other people straight in the face and see it for what it is, and that is a difficult thing to do.

Walking away from infertility and loss is a complicated process. Sometimes it feels like I’m untangling a knot in a chain, teasing the pieces of myself that are wrapped so tightly around each other as to be almost indistinguishable from one another. I hope, when the knot has been undone, the chain won’t be too bent or kinked. I hope the necklace will be as beautiful as it once was and that I can wear it proudly.