So it' s 4:38 in the morning, which is not normally a time I would choose to be awake and blogging, but it is what it is. Once you've been laying in bed for two and a half hours unable to sleep, things that otherwise wouldn't seem wise start sounding pretty good. Not to mention, when you've been filling the sleepless hours (not just tonight, but many nights recently) with Deep Thinking, at some point you think maybe if I just write it all down, get it all out, maybe my brain can rest.
So in recent weeks I've heard comments (or been asked questions outright) to the effect of "you are dealing with infertility so well lately...how do you do it? How do you stop letting your life be consumed with infertility, or are you just really not talking about it anymore?" And it got me to thinking...oftentimes in the middle of the night, obviously...and here's what I've come up with.
It's been a long time since I've posted a link to this article, but it's been one of my favorites for quite a few years now. It does an excellent job of describing the cycle of hope and despair, which to me is the essence of infertility. A constant, endless cycle of hoping and despairing. An exhausting, draining cycle of hoping and despairing. As a Christian, I feel like there's even MORE pressure to do the "hoping" part really well-- because our hope is in Christ, right? And so tack on an extra fifty layers of expectation onto your 'hope' end of the cycle-- because maintaining hope is practically tantamount to your salvation, right?, and to indicate a lack of hope would seem to indicate that you don't believe in God or something. So the cycle goes on and on....HOPING!!!!! and EXPECTING!!!!! and sure, despairing a little when you once again discover that all that faith-filled hoping didn't amount to anything. Again. And again. And again, times four years and countless hopes and even more countless hours of despairing.
And one day you wake up and realize that you cannot handle this cycle anymore and so you stop hoping, because if you can stop hoping, you can stop despairing. Or at least despair less. And even though it sounds terrible to 'stop hoping,' when it feels like your current Life Trajectory is pointing you toward either clinical depression or alcoholism and you'd rather skip out on both of those...jumping off the hope/despair cycle seems like the best option out there.
Now here's the thing. I haven't given up hope in general. I still have the hope and dream and goal of being a mother someday. Somehow. When I think about 70-year-old Erika, she absolutely has kids and grandkids surrounding her. So I haven't given up the hope of children in general.
I've given up the burden of expectantly hoping in each week, each cycle, each year. I've given up drumming up enthusiasm and optimism that this could be my month!!! This is my year!!! because years and years of experience have taught me that no, it probably isn't...and it will be a lot easier to deal with that disappointment if you haven't gotten yourself all worked up about the possibility that maybe it is. Do I still hope and pray that I will have children? Yes. Do I expect that it will be now, or soon, or by such and such a date/event? No. Because you try telling yourself year after year that "NEXT year on Mother's Day/Christmas/our TTC anniversary/summer vacation it will be different! We will be pregnant or have a baby FOR SURE!!!" and have your friends agree with you and hope with you as well and then hear a song on the radio and think it is a sign, and someone tearfully whispers something in your ear at church and it's a sign, and then the squash that were dead start growing again in your garden and it's a sign, and then you watch those days- Christmas, Father's Day, and the rest- roll by and by and by and have to remember that hope and confidence you once had...and tell me that anything isn't better than that.
I had to get off the cycle of hope and despair because the burden of hope was too much. I am not strong enough to despair like that any longer.
And so here I am in a cautiously neutral-ish-optimistic emotional place. I desperately want children, more than anything, more than you can imagine. I am actively working toward that goal in as many ways as I know how and can afford. I believe and trust in a God that will use everything-- all of my life, including these four 'wasted' years of pain and infertility, including the four that could be to come, or the ten, or the lifetime...He can use it ALL to His glory. I do not doubt that at all. But that doesn't mean that every month (or three weeks, as my cycles tend towards now-- FUN TIDBIT!!) I have to start over with drumming up fake enthusiasm and hope that this will be my month. It's easier to expect nothing, because then when you get it...well, you were expecting it anyway. Sound depressing? Not compared to the alternative.
So there's my insider tip, friends. Tired of hoping and despairing? Then get off the crazy train (or Ferris wheel, as the case may be). Only it isn't that easy and I know it. I had to ride that train for years and years. I couldn't just stop hoping because some random girl on the internet said so, because a) that sounds sacrilegious and b) how can you stop hoping? I guess it's one of those things- like so many other aspects of infertility- that you just have to live through to understand. And maybe your experience with infertility will lead you in a different direction. But it's what's working for me, for now. I'm not at all sure I'll stay here forever...because obviously, if you're in the midst of fertility treatments or an adoption, YOUR HOPE IS GONNA SKYROCKET. And that's good. I think that needs to happen. But not for this month after month after year after blasted year of whatever it is I'm doing. A heart can only bear so much. And for me, the burden of constantly drumming up expectant hope was too much.
So now that I've had the most productive middle-of-the-night hour of my life, I'm gonna try to rest my eyes before my alarm goes off. Thanks for listening, for supporting and encouraging me, and for holding out hope for me when I cannot do it on my own.