This week has felt particularly long, and difficult. Two unexpected pregnancy announcements, both from women I don't know that well, but who are younger than me and married less time than me (ouch). A few projects at work that involve thinking about Mother's Day and/or editing texts about research on marriage and families that contained not a few triggers for the unsuspecting infertile woman. By the end of the week, I was just fried, mentally and emotionally.
However - a very exciting thing happened this week! On Monday, April 20th, we put our 12-page application in an unassuming manila envelope and mailed it to our agency. We have officially started the adoption process!
Cue fireworks and cheers here :)
It felt great - it really did. Because we work close to each other, we were able to meet for mass before I mailed the application, so we had a special time of prayer together, entrusting our efforts to God and praying for the path ahead and all the people we'll meet on it - not least our child and his/her biological parents.
It really does feel like a fresh beginning, the start of something so, so good.
But there's an ending, too.
One of the questions on the application asked about how long we've been in treatment for infertility, and what the current status of treatment was. When we started filling out the forms on April 2nd, I was in a wacko cycle where it appears that I didn't ovulate and had a "missed period" - although I did get a real period in mid-April after all (started on a plane, on a 3-day work trip, and me not bringing any "female products" because I thought I wasn't going to have a period...thanks, AF. Well played.)
At the beginning of April, I was on my 5th dose of letrozole, out of 6 that were prescribed. But my cycles have just been so, so weird since taking these meds, and I was sick of it. I had (have) the 6th dose in our bathroom cabinet, but couldn't take it until my period started, which it didn't, and then when it finally did, I was out of town on the 3rd day when I was supposed to take the next dose.
All that is to say - we discussed it, and decided that we could put an end date of infertility treatment on the application (April 2015) and also say something like, "No further treatment is planned at this time." The meds will stay in the cabinet until further notice. Or maybe I'll flush them down the toilet defiantly - not sure yet.
For us, that leaves the door open in case we want to pursue medical treatment in the future, if we both discern that that's a good thing to do. But for now, that particular path is done for us. No more doctor's visits, meds, or charting (other than what I'm conscious of from charting for so long). It felt good to put that down on paper - it felt more real, somehow. (But also somewhat scary, and sad.)
Yesterday was our 3rd annual archdiocesan mass for couples struggling with infertility and miscarriage. As usual (we've gone all 3 years) it was emotional, draining, but also healing and beautiful. The mass was great, the talk was great, the conversations over lunch were great - but I want to talk about one particular moment that I will be reflecting on for a while.
After mass, everyone was invited to come up for healing prayers from a priest. This year, I liked how the priest made it personal. He asked us (quietly) what we would like prayer for. I said, "For the gift of a child, for freedom from jealousy, bitterness, and anger, and for our marriage to stay strong." He prayed for us, and of course I cried (and of course forget tissues at my seat).
Back in the pew, I had a crystal clear sense that I needed to say to God, "Lord, help me fully accept the fact that I may never be pregnant; that I may never feel a child kick inside of me; that I may never give birth; that I may never raise a child that looks like me and Mr. M and is a blend of our personalities; etc."
Cue the waterworks!
I hadn't planned on praying this - it just came to me. At the same time, it made so much sense, given what we had put on our adoption application. And I had a sense that this moment had been long in coming, that at some point I would have needed to pray a prayer like this, to look directly in the face the fact that I may never be a physical mother. (Not crazy about the word "physical" since adoptive mothers have very "physical" roles too! Whatever word is best: biological, natural - they're all limited, but hopefully you know what I mean: I may never conceive and give birth to a child.)
Note that I didn't pray, "Help me accept that I may never be a mother." Maybe someday I'll have to get to that prayer too, but at least now, we are hopefully that we will become parents via adoption, so I am taking a step of faith and saying, "I believe I will be a mother someday."
And note that I said "may," not "will." (I may not be pregnant, etc.) I'm well aware that I am not medically infertile, meaning that I (we) have all the apparatus to conceive, and it is still possible that that will happen.
But I think this prayer came from my need to accept my reality right now, which is that we have been engaging in the marital act for 3.5 years more than what is normal for couples using NFP. We have pursued medical treatment. We have tried...and we have failed. Have we tried "everything"? Probably not. But we've tried enough. And have not succeeded.
That is a hard, hard reality for me to accept. Hence, the prayer. I just felt a strong need in that holy space, during a holy time, to lay at the feet of the altar this dear, dear desire to be a pregnant, birthing mama - to give that to God, what feels like "again" but also feels like a distinct ending.
How will this prayer change me? I don't know yet. Ideally, I would like to arrive at a place of true acceptance - of being at peace at maybe never conceiving and giving birth. I don't feel like I'm there yet. Maybe the adoption process itself will help? Maybe adopting will help? Maybe the pang will never go away? I don't know yet.
But I feel like this "ending" - combined with our "beginning" of starting the adoption process - is a good place to be right now.