It's a new day. And it pretty much sucks.
After many long hours and conversations with C, it has come to my understanding that it's possible that what my therapist has been trying to do is get me to accept that we may never have a family. For the record? I have always acknowledged this, but because I do want a family I want to try to focus on doing everything I can before I give up and the hope for a family and resign myself to a different kind of life. I'm not saying "resign" as necessarily a bad thing, but what has to happen when all our options and attempts and chances have run out.
What I don't understand is why it's so important for me actively embrace this idea that we will not have children when there *are* at least a couple of options down the road for us. Clearly, right now, we are not in a place to pursue them, but why is it so important to accept and resign before the fight is over? Or, at least, over in my eyes.
C has, on occasion, asked me where that line will be, when I will know that I am done and we are done and have run out of chances. Will it keep moving? I don't know the answer. What I was hoping to get out of therapy was some exploration of what we've done so far, what I might be up for and not up for. How do integrate these THREE different options into our life, rather than be strapped down and made to accept that we will never have a family ever.
Unless that's what she and Dr. Shrink believe and want me to get. That IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN FOR US. That I am too fucked up and we as a couple are not fit to be parents.
I talk to my sister, and she says you know, there are still options out there and if you want kids (and she knows how I want kids) there are avenues to pursue when you are ready. You don't have to accept being childless YET. At some point it may come to that, but doesn't necessarily need to be right now.
Or, as C has also asked, am I going to go around and talk to shrinks and REs and adoption agencies until I find one who will tell me, "Sure, I can help you"?
I don't think so.
When my mother was sick, we talked to tons of doctors. The ones at SK in NYC, cancer doctors all over the country. We all did research we all asked questions until it became clear that not only was her cancer terminal, it was terminal in the very near future.
Where I come from, you do everything you can if you really want it. I curse myself not infrequently because of the way that I handled my/our infertility, pregnancy and the process of loss because I often feel like we didn't do everything we could. I was prepared to risk infection and blood clots and god knows what else if it meant holding on for another month or more to try to save Jacob. It never occurred to me not to until conversations with C made it clear to me he feared for my life, and not without reason. And so the conversation changed.
I used this analogy of how I see this situation with my therapist and all these people who are trying to help me. Well, at least my therapist. I apologize if it hits a nerve or is offensive to you, but, for me, it seems to illustrate what's going on.
If, for example, some random woman, Jane, were to discover she had breast cancer, her first thought might be, "Oh, my god, I have cancer, I'm going to die." Not unreasonable.
After expert tests and examinations and meetings and second and third and fourth opinions, the doctors come to the consensus that the tumor is not small, but manageable in that a lumpectomy, (possibly mastectomy) and a round of chemo, and a round of radiation should eradicate the cancer and help her live a relatively healthy, long life, as the doctors tell her. All she can think is, "Oh, my god, I have cancer. I"m going to die."
She is paralyzed with fear, and despite the pleading of her family to get treatment she does not. Think of all the people who love you, your grandchildren -- don't you want to see them grow up? "It's hopeless. I have cancer. I'm going to die."
Her doctors talk to her and tell her that this cancer, while serious, is treatable, and with careful observation and management after treatment, she can likely live far past the clinical 5-year marker. Of course there are no guarantees, so Jane is still in despair. "I have cancer. I'm going to die."
Her pastor comes to her and tells her that she has options, that despite the cancer, God has provided a treatment that may very well give her her life back. "We cannot know what the future will bring," says her pastor, "but we can try to live our life to the fullest, to do everything we can to live and live well."
But she does nothing. Family and friends, clinicians, religious leaders all say, "we have no promises, but we have hope, we have knowledge that may help us save your life."
All Jane can think is, "I have cancer. The only thing we know for sure is that cancer can kill. All this talk about "maybe" and "likely" and "trying," it's all pointless because I have cancer. I'm going to die."
And she does nothing to treat the cancer. And, just as she predicted, she dies less than a year later, knowing she was right. She had cancer, and it would kill her.
Heavy-handed, I know. I'm sorry.
To me, it's like saying, "You're infertile. Sure, there are treatments, but they might not work and that might make you really upset, so you should just accept that you are going to live your life without children. You need to accept this without trying anything else."
To me, a good therapist will help me understand what's happened so far, accept it and forgive myself and the (mediocre) doctors who were involved. Help me integrate that past into my present and my future. He or she would help me explore what my options are now, what the possible outcomes are and how I need to consider handling those. Or if I could handle them. How I can strategize living the rest of my life, given the limited options that I have.
Rather than making me accept that this is my fate and I really need to give up now to save myself heartache later. It feels like all the professionals in my life are wanting me to be Jane and let go of any hope, despite the (albeit small) possibility that we could have a family.
Maybe it's the inverse of my story: Jane says, okay, this is small, this is manageable. I've talked to doctors, I've talked to survivors, I've talked to folks for whom treatment didn't work and I want to push as hard as I can so I can live my life. And the doctors all say, well, yes, there are treatments, but they might not work. You have to accept that they might not work. And she says, I know that. But I need to have hope that they might because I want to live a long life filled with my family and friends and I want to see my grandchildren grow up.
And the doctors just say, Really Jane, we know that your cancer is in the early stages, and we could try to treat it, but it might not work. You need to know that, and maybe you should just put your things in order and enjoy what's left of your life.
That's kind of what this feels like, too.
The question of all questions for the infertile: When do I/we give up treatment and decide to live childless?
It seems like some have made that decision for me. Is it lack of experience with infertility and loss? Or is it just that I am SO very messed up, we are SO unfit or SO old, that even working to put things in order to get to a place where we can build a family -- biological or not -- is just that bad an idea and no one will say that?
I have to say, I really wonder.
Or maybe I should just let it go.
When do you let go of something because the chances are bad? When do you let go of something because it will hurt so much if it doesn't work out?
Jesus Christ, have I -- with the intractable depression -- with my feelings actually on the surface -- with that primal drive left wrought and bloody in a labor and delivery room -- have I proved right all those people who believed I was just a fragile little girl, incapable of dealing with (any realities of) life?
Maybe I am.
Leaves me very few choices, I think.