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I learned a new word today

As I sat in my doctor’s office I was reading an article today and came across a new word that struck me. Saudade.  It is a Portuguese word that supposedly means longing, incompleteness and desire – all in one. 

In the article, it was talking about one’s longing for a place/time of the past.  But I thought about how this so perfectly describes how many of us infertile women feel about our fertility and parenthood. 

I decided to do a bit more research on the rough translation of this word -Wikipedia had this to say:

“Saudade has been described as a “vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist … a turning towards the past or towards the future”. It may also be translated as a deep longing or yearning for something which does not exist or is unattainable.”

Wow, how often in our fertility and IVF journeys does it seem that what we are striving for feels so unattainable?  The good news is that in fact, for many of us, the dream of pregnancy or parenthood can become a reality – it just may not be exactly the way we had originally planned. 

Wikipedia continues by saying: “Saudade was once described as “the love that remains” or “the love that stays” after someone is gone. Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again. It can be described as an emptiness, like someone ( e.g., one’s children, parents, sibling, grandparents, friends) or something (e.g., places, pets, things one used to do in childhood, or other activities performed in the past) that should be there in a particular moment is missing, and the individual feels this absence.”

 I thought of how this applies to so many of us in our journey of infertility.  Perhaps it is a loss of our fertility – or a loss of the ease in which we are supposed to be able to have children.  For others, it may be the loss through miscarriage, or even infant death that leaves a gaping hole, an emptyness.  And with this comes a longing for what could or should have been and coming to terms with the myriad losses we face in the difficult journey of infertility. 

It is interesting to me that this word was voted one of the most beautiful words of the Portuguese language, while being considered one of the most difficult to properly translate.  

Lately, I  feel saudades for my fertility, our children who are not with us, my loss of innocence and so much more.  I have felt compelled to document so many things that have been lost. Not so much to put it behind me, but to acknowledge the losses that have become part of my reality without giving up that sense of longing for what might have been – and perhaps what may still come.

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2 Responses to I learned a new word today

  1. Ah Sue, I too have felt this ‘suadade’…. and even when you cross the river and finally make it to the other side, as I did after nearly 7 years of struggling with infertility, the ‘suadade’ doesn’t completely go away. Ours is a unique journey – quite different than other ‘illnesses’ – it leaves a different kind of scar.
    You voiced this beautifully. thanks for sharing.

  2. Kirsten von Hassel says:

    I loved your post on saudade. I spent teen years in Brasil, learning to speak Portuguese. In all these years since, the word Saudade has always been one of my favorites and one I often bring up in my mind for situations when English words just don’t work. And as I went through my infertility journey I often felt saudade for the hope and simplicity of my pre-IVF life, dreaming of a baby and thinking it would be easy.

    I’m so sorry for your loss and wish you and your family peace and love.