Thursday, July 24, 2008

At A Loss for Words

Recently one of my clients confided in me that she and her husband are trying to have a baby and are suffering from infertility. She just finished yet another attempt at IVF that didn't even yield a single egg worthy of extraction. She is 38 years old. She told me she confided in me because she thought I was an inspiration given all that we went through to get Joey and Lyra.

Problem is, I feel like I can offer no inspiration whatsoever. I refuse to give advice to people on this subject, and I refuse to fall prey to all of the cliches.

I refuse to say "Don't give up," because I gave up.

I refuse to say "Just keep on trying," because I stopped trying. And continuing to try in the face of such monumental odds is devastating to a woman's self-esteem, pocket book and sanity.

I refuse to say "Just relax and it will happen," because that is positively the most un-relaxing comment ever and it used to drive me crazy when people would say that to me. And besides, it doesn't work.

I refuse to say "Adopt and then you'll get pregnant," because despite a few "I know someone" stories and Charlotte's miraculous conception in Sex and the City, this does not happen nearly as often as people think. You never hear about the thousands of parents who do adopt and don't get pregnant.

And I refuse to say, "oh a donor egg / adopted baby / adopted embryo will feel just like your baby," because I didn't believe this when I was going through my infertility and adoption issues. (I believe it now, but when you are in the throes of infertility, this is not a great comfort.)

The only thing I can say for sure is that the right baby finds you at the right time. But somehow I feel this is less than adequate. Have any of you been through this with friends? When you've finally crossed over the great divide from want-to-be parent to an actual parent and you've still got friends on the other side? And what do you say?

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Blogger Robin Gorman Newman said...

My son is adopted, and we were the first couple in our social circle to go that route. We had friends who were fertility challenged, and were totally not in favor of adoption. Over time, as they got to know our son when he was a baby, they decided that adoption was viable for them. But, it was never due to our making statements to that effect or trying in any way to influence them. It wouldn't have mattered.

It is such a personal choice, and there is no one way to become a parent. And, there's no real words of encouragement when you see others going through a hard time, even though you know what it feels like.

People just have to endure and believe that parenthood is possible for them...though they may not know how or when they'll get there.

But, I do totally agree, that you get the child you're meant too, somehow. And, that's what counts the most.

6:42 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

In these situations, each story is so personal. I let people know that I'll be happy to listen if they want to talk, and that I'll be happy to share my story, in the hopes that maybe they can somehow draw on my experiences.

That being said, I think it can be very awkward to be put in the position of being someone else's "inspiration", especially under these circumstances. You made choices based on the situation that you were dealt and based on what you felt you could cope with. It's not like you set out to be an example or inspiration for others.

People often seem to expect individuals who have gone through something difficult to somehow step up and be some sort of role model. If people are willing to do so, that's one thing, but otherwise, it's nothing more than an unfair, unwanted burden.

7:38 AM  
Blogger Dalon said...

I appreciate your reply to people that the child you're meant to have will come - I believe that to be true (although many times I check in with God - "are you SURE this ranting, raving, crazy person on my floor is MY child?!") - many of my friends miscarried before I became pregnant with baby #1 and it was horrible to learn about and even more horrible that I couldn't help them in any way - just being available as a friend and listening is a wonderful thing - I think sharing a good cry is also pretty healthy :-)

5:10 PM  

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