Monday, October 25, 2010

Painless Grief

A commenter mentioned something that struck a chord with me. Something in response to me writing about how that want for a biological child still lingers. She mentioned the pain and how it hasn't gone away.

And yet... I had to think about this a bit to be sure, but, I really think the pain HAS gone away.

There's grief, yes, certainly there's grief. But it doesn't hurt anymore, doesn't sting.

Sometimes there's a dull throb in my heart, sometimes there's the feeling of immense emptiness in my womb, and for a second there I wish... I wish things were a little bit different.

Oh, don't get me wrong. When I say I love my kids I mean I LOOOOOVE my kids, I love my family, I may not always love the path that got us here but I certainly love the end result.

I think the thing is that when you plan to have a biological child you aren't just planning for that particular child, you're planning a whole WORLD.

You plan how your family looks, you plan how you're treated on the playground, you plan how you do or don't blend into a crowd, you plan for physical changes and dietary restrictions, you plan for events that can only be attended and enjoyed by those experiencing that form of life (prenatal yoga anyone?).

With the loss of the ability to produce a biological child we have given up a lot:
A child continuing our bloodline and the bloodline of our parents, grandparents, and so on.
The ability to see our own and each other's physical attributes within our child.
The ability to blend in on a playground, being just another mom or dad.
We lost all of pregnancy, the feeling of a child within, the birthing classes, the birth plan, the maternity clothes, the nine months of near certainty.
We lost labor and delivery and with it all the possible scenarios we could have experienced.
We lost the ability to control the pregnancy, prepare the womb, nourish our children through my own eating habits and know their history from conception on.
We lost the ability to fill out half of the forms at the doctor's office. We have to write big "?"s all over the place when it comes to genetic history for one and genetic and infancy history for the other.
We lost cord blood donation, even likelihood of genders, nursing from birth, home birth, water birth, hypno birth, cloth diapers from the get go, preggie pops, belly bands, prenatal yoga, water intake, glucose tests, ultrasounds, etc.
We lost a vision of our family and how it would form.
We lost control and autonomy over our own family building plans, having to go through social workers and governments.
We lost who we though we would become, who we were trying to become, the family we were trying to make.

And yeah, there's grief there.

And there's grief from our children, who experienced an even greater loss. We lost a vision, a possibility. They lost real, living people who loved them and cultures that accepted them. Some days this can be a hard pill to swallow.

Yet, while I find grief in this, I don't find pain.

My children help with that.

You see, I know consciously that had we been able to conceive and carry a child to term when we wanted to there is likely no way on Earth we would have even known of P or A's existence. I wouldn't have this incredible bond with both my kids, I wouldn't be tied forever to Ethiopia or African American culture, I wouldn't be as bothered with racism and poverty and the AIDS epidemic, I wouldn't have worked my butt off to induce lactation and I very well might have given up if/when mastitis hit, and I wouldn't have been able to give advice to others on subjects such as adoptive breast feeding, international/domestic adoption, local agencies, post adoption depression, entitlement issues, etc.

I suppose my biggest problem when it comes to the realm of fertility is this: I haven't yet stopped hoping that it will happen.

If it doesn't happen ever, and there's a high likelihood that this will be the case, then I can be at peace with that.

But see... I'm 28, he's 26. He's on testosterone therapy and hasn't had a semenalysis since he started that, and this could very well have caused his problems. We have a good 7+ years of potential normal fertility for me. We want a large family. We aren't against biological children at all. We aren't preventing as I'm nursing and, well, if it happened we'd be fine with it.

And we never tried fertility treatments.

We aren't the couple that tried to conceive and exhausted their options for several years before coming to terms with infertility and adopting.

We're the couple who always wanted both and opted to adopt as soon as we found we had fertility problems, on the belief that we'd "adopt our two or three we always wanted to adopt then revisit the conception issue."

It's never been resolved, it's still on the table, and...


And it's just hard to stop thinking about it once you realize that it's a possibility, and not an unwanted one.

The biggest issue we face, though, is guilt. Guilt toward the two incredible children we've adopted and the children we feel we are likely to adopt in our future. Guilt that they'll feel inadequate should we have biological children who look like us. Guilt that we still want both when really they are so, so incredible and we couldn't ask for more perfect children. And worry that they'll think we love them less, that family would love them less, that society would love them less. I believe this is where my husband is as he recently said he doesn't want to parent any Caucasian children because he's worried it wouldn't be fair to our African American children, that people would treat the CC kids differently and likely better. I don't know, I personally would love a rainbow family though I'd like there to be two of each race represented in our immediate family (ie, two AA, two Hisp, one CC would be fine).

Okay, so I'm getting side tracked. Tends to happen with me as I'm a stream of consciousness writer who rarely edits, even spelling :-P

Let me just leave it at this:
I do not regret the path we ended up taking. Our children are fabulous and so, so worth all the pain we once felt. I still feel grief over the loss of how we thought we'd be, just as my older son expresses that he feels grief over not being with his first mother still. And he also far more frequently expresses joy that I'm his mom and that he's here with me, just as I feel immense joy in the fact that we have been blessed with these incredible sons. There was pain for awhile there, pain while TTC, pain while waiting to adopt, but now my heart is so full, my arms so full, it's hard to feel any pain. Grief... yes, that will creep in. But it's painless, and in many ways simply cathartic.

And the grief is in no way anywhere close to as big as the joy :-) *

*Most days. Some days the boys drive me nuts and the joy-quotient goes down a bit, but only temporarily!


Krissi said...

Wow! This is a moving post! You speak so eloquently about this. I do hope that one day you do have the big family you so desire! Happy ICLW! (#72 & 106)

WiseGuy said...

It is a very powerful post. I got quite struck by all that you lost, by not having biological offsprings.

I pray and hope that the big family you dream about becomes your reality...All the very best!

nh said...

I wonder if grief is always there, however we choose to build our families. And, yes, grief is different to pain.


car said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog (and snowy Alberta, Canada.) It's clear that your boys are blessed to have you for a mom.

Michelle said...

I love your distinction between grief and pain. You've clearly empowered yourself, your beautiful children and your children-yet-to-be by acknowledging the sadness AND celebrating the gifts. I wish you a the big family you want and a bright future with all of them.

ICLW #15