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Coping With Infertility

By Jan Curtis

Infertility treatment was incredibly hard for me to deal with. There were times during my voyage through the infertility mill that I wondered if I or my husband (or our marriage) would break. Just having to manage the logistics was a challenge sometimes (his job required travel - usually at the wrong time).  I was completely sick of having our love life controlled by the calendar, and I deeply resented the casual way that others seemed to assume that they would "decide" to start a family, and it would just happen.

The switch from infertility treatment to adoption worked this way for us: we were offered the "next step" (very invasive - donor eggs or similar options) - lots of money with not very good odds. We considered the costs and the chances of success, and knew it was time for us to stop seeking pregnancy, and start building a family.

I can't say that all of the aftermath of our infertility journey has vaporized, but the grief is no longer so fresh. It is not (ever) gone, just more manageable. I have to admit that I have had some very angry feelings toward clueless folks. It still makes me crazy to see people doing dumb stuff: pregnant women smoking, parents who don't buckle their children into carseats, parents who don't put bicycle helmets on the kids or on themselves. Most times I want to shake them and shout "Don't you know what you have there? How dare you behave in such a cavalier manner when you have been granted such a priceless gift?" I also have spent my own share of time railing against God. I still haven't come to a complete resolution of my questions as to why others were receiving a miracle, but I wasn't. I guess part of the answer is that my miracle was waiting in Vietnam.

Overall the paperwork of adoption was the most difficult thing for us to deal with, and in fact, it's the thing that gives me the most pause every time we even consider whether to do it again. I think it's kind of a weeding process - "if you can't cope with this, how would you ever manage a child?" I do understand the need for the agencies and Vietnam to document that they have placed the children properly. It does kind of make you wonder if some of the folks who have biological kids would be able to get a child at all if they had to go through this process!

I found the group Resolve to be a wonderful support while I was dealing with infertility. They have information on adoption and choosing to remain childless, as well as infertility. There are also books (or book chapters) out now on adopting after infertility. They may be worth looking into during the waiting.

I have always considered it especially cruel that the miscarriage rate is higher for those with fertility problems - if we had to work so hard to conceive this child, doesn't it seem like there should be a guarantee that we can keep it? And I can certainly understand the wish to do violence when advised by fertile people to "relax". That always felt like blaming the victim to me!

I felt much better when we were talking to our social worker and he made it clear that it was his job to help families and children find one another. After that, I didn't really worry anymore about whether we would be approved. I hope you have a similar experience, and can relax into parenthood. I still feel incredibly lucky that I got my heart's desire, and it's still what I want more than anything. I was actually surprised at myself that I felt so relaxed once I was a mother; it was like all the pieces finally fit.

© Copyright Jan Curtis

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