For those of you who have a little time to kill, here is a rather long account of my weekend and the tangle of emotions that came with it:
On Friday afternoon, I had an appointment with the doctor who performed my uterine biopsies last month. I was so very hopeful that I would leave his office with possible solutions and a semblance of an answer, but rather left in a whirlwind of confusion and questions. I managed to remain relatively calm and collected during my appointment, but as soon as I saw my husband at the train station the tears came tumbling down. A much-needed hug and a nap on the train ride down south to visit my husband’s parents helped quiet the whirlwind of anxiety that was building inside me. And we were able to enjoy a beautiful sunny evening in Avignon with my in-laws and a talented improv duo performing at the Avignon Theater Festival. It felt liberating to laugh out loud with the other members of the audience. Although who would imagine that a improv act about a multicolored colander named Mathias and a bread knife named Eloise would open up my leaky faucet ;-). When I heard the name Mathias, the first thing that popped into my mind was how I rather like Mathias for a boy’s name. Then Eloise, the bread knife, joined the act and with her came a little jab to my heart. Yes, Eloise is our top contender for a girl’s name. Prior to my appointment on Friday, I’d been doing pretty well at managing my emotions and thoughts related to our fertility treatments and our longing for a child, but the appointment had clearly tipped the balance.
On Saturday, we had a wonderfully lazy family morning. The sun was shining, but a little black cloud hovered in my mind along with the pesky question of whether we would ever be able to share mornings like this with our children. We swam and played in the pool a bit before lunch. My mother-in-law is a good sport and joined my husband and I in our swimming races and pool games. One of the things I adore about her is how young at heart and playful she is. My father-in-law and I don’t have very many shared interests. It’s our passion for good food, as silly as it may sound, that has helped us bond over the years. He is better at expressing his emotions through actions than through words. One way this translates is him spoiling us with delicious meals when we come down for visits. He is a sweetheart and always makes an extra special effort to dish up my favorites. While the undiscerning eye may not think twice about the organic Roquefort on the cheese platter, I know that he not only went out of his way to buy my favorite cheese, but that he got the organic version to boot. And he has learned to show his empathy during the two-week waits by discreetly replacing the Roquefort on the platter with a Petit Basque goat’s cheese, my favorite pasteurized cheese.
On Saturday afternoon, we headed to a cute little town nearby called l’Ilse-sur-la-Sorgue to see a contemporary sculpture exhibition. If you’re heading down south this summer (for you Frenchies) it is well worth a little detour (http://www.villadatris.com/index.php). The exhibition was really neat, but it stirred up a plethora of emotions inside me. It seemed like everywhere I turned there was a sculpture that personified my struggles with infertility. I’d been thinking a lot about our seemingly endless infertility journey since my appointment on Friday, but had been trying not to burden my husband with my angst. He is wonderfully supportive, but I have started to learn that our relationship is much healthier when I don’t relentlessly bring up our struggle towards parenthood. I’ve recently begun seeing a therapist in an attempt to find an outlet for my feelings other than my husband.
Behind the museum there was a beautiful little sculpture garden. When I stepped out into the sculpture garden, my husband pointed towards an olive tree with a multitude of scraps of colored paper tied to its branches. As I walked closer, I realized that it was a tree of wishes. And with this realization a flood of tears came streaming down my face. I quickly eclipsed to the bathroom before my husband noticed and I tried to dry my eyes as best I could. On my way out, I grabbed some toilette paper in case the floodgates decided to open again. I handed the paper to my husband to tuck in his pocket and he asked amusingly what I was planning to do with a wad of toilet paper in a sculpture garden. I couldn’t help but laugh and reassured him that no, I was not planning on taking a wee behind the Miró. The floodgates held, but a couple tears snuck through as I wrote my wish for the tree of wishes. It read something like this:
“I wish from the bottom of my heart, that we will be blessed with the gift of parenthood and that our parents will have the joy of becoming grandparents.”
Last year when my mother-in-law shared with me how difficult it was for her to watch all of her brothers and sisters becoming grandparents, I felt a touch of resentment for the fact that she was burdening me with this at a time when I felt so fragile. I have since learned to feel a great deal of empathy for her and her longing to become a grandmother. Especially seeing how much joy my little niece has brought to my parents over the past year and a half.
My husband and I both love family time and we are extremely fortunate as a couple to have wonderful relationships with both my family and his family. I’ve been thinking a fair bit recently about what our future might look like without children, something that up until now I haven’t been able nor willing to consider. I think we could find a way to be happy and lead relatively fulfilled lives without children, but when I think about growing old, just the two of us, it feels very sad and lonely.
On Sunday, I finally got to see the Tour de France in person as the cyclists whizzed through the little village where my husband grew up. It was very exciting, all 30 seconds of it. You will be relieve to hear that it did not bring me to tears ;-), even though I did do a pretty good job of fulfilling my Pisces profile the rest of the weekend. On Sunday I was finally able to take a step back from the emotional yoyo triggered by my appointment and to once again find an emotional balance, as delicate as it may be.
Back at home on Sunday evening, my husband and I talked about our time with his parents and brother this weekend and about how much our families mean to us. We mutually expressed how growing old without children to share our lives with is a very difficult thought, especially with our little niece living an ocean away and no prospects of children on my husband’s side of the family. We had a constructive conversation and managed to not let it consume our evening like we’ve done so many times over the past few years. I’m thankful I gave myself a little time to work through the tumult of feelings triggered during my appointment before having this conversation. I’m not sure if this whole process is becoming easier, but I do feel like I’m refining my coping strategies as we go.
At the end of the conversation, I decided we were in a place where I could put the question of adoption back on the table. I think about adoption often, but have managed to tuck it away from conversation in recent months. We went to the preliminary adoption meetings back in March. My husband was open to attending the preliminary meetings with me, but had very clearly expressed that he was not ready to move forward with the adoption process, as he felt we needed to concentrate our energy on our fertility treatments. My urge to move forward with the adoption process has been quite strong, especially faced with the reality of the ever-growing waiting times for adoption here in France. While I found my husband’s imposed break from adoption talk quite challenging, I recognized that his request was justified and probably the healthiest decision for both of us.
At the end of our conversation last night, we agreed we will both likely be ready to continue down the road towards adoption at the start of next year. At that point we will either be pregnant or at the end of our second full IVF cycle, at the end of almost 3 years of tests and treatments, at the end of 9 transfer of 10 seemingly perfect embryos, and at the end of an extensive list of the vast majority of tests available to us here in France. To my surprise my husband even mentioned the idea of starting to figure out our adoption possibilities map. I am so hoping we will be pregnant come January, not because I feel the overwhelming need to be a biological mother, but rather because I feel exceedingly ready to become a mother, long to see my husband a father, and his parents as grandparents. And because I am aware that the path to adoption is just as long and tortuous, if not more so, than the road we have already traveled.