So often in my work, I encounter women who have truly been through infertility hell – with so many heartbreaking losses on their path to parenthood.
We often talk about grief and those losses along the way – the loss of the dream of just getting “knocked up the old fashioned way”, or the loss of genetic connection (when using donor eggs, donor sperm, or donor embryos), the loss of being an oblivious happy pregnant woman not waiting for something to go wrong. Sadly, there are also those who have dealt with loss through miscarriages, fetal death, still birth, or neonatal death of their babies after birth. It is the club that no one ever wanted to join, and you never get the option to leave. Yet, you have to find a way to move forward, to keep on living.
I think each person has to find a way to deal with their own losses, but there is no one linear path. I recently read an article that had me shaking my head in agreement, so I wanted to share it here for my sisters in loss:
The Choice to Grieve: Coping with Loss – By Arleah Shechtman. Ms. Shechtman talks about the loss of her teenage daughter, but I think that her words ring true for many of us who have dealt with or are dealing with the little and big losses of our journeys to parenthood.
She talks about people imagining what it must be like to lose a child, and writes:
You suspect you would never, ever, get over it. You suspect that anything resembling a normal life would end when your child took her last breath.
I can tell you that your suspicions are right: you never do get over it. But they are also wrong. There is life after a child’s death. True, it’s not the same life you had before – you cross an invisible force field and there is no way back – but you can build a new one that’s fulfilling, sometimes joyful, and yes, worth living.
For anyone in those early stages of grieving, I hope that you can find hope in her words, and support in the community of women who have suffered similar losses and can be there and understand in a way that no one else can.