Thursday, September 29, 2005

All in All It's Just Another Brick in the Wall

A while back in the IF blog world, there was a discussion about "hitting the wall" with infertility*, about reaching the point where you suddenly feel that the obstacles you're up against are too much, that you just can't push through life as an infertile person any longer. At the time, I could not yet really imagine ever hitting the wall. If there was a wall in my future, it seemed so far away as to blend into the horizon. All I could think about was the next pregnancy attempt, the new treatment plan, what would make things work next month.

Now, I think that while there may be one dramatic moment when you realize you're up against an insurmountable wall, the wall itself does not appear all at once. It's not an obstacle that you slam into unexpectedly, smacked breathless with loss. No, I think the wall is built brick by brick. Getting my period last month, maybe didn't deserve the degree of sympathy you lovely people sent my way. That wasn't a wall slamming down in front of me. It was just one more brick being set in the mortar. Still I felt really anxious and sad, the way listening to The Wall makes you feel. So I thank everyone who came to sing along with me.

I feel the wall rising slowly, defining the boudaries of my garden. At first, when I saw those bricks being laid down, they seemed more like the start of a walkway than a wall. I thought, early on, that the delays in our family plans were just that, pauses that would ultimately make my path more sure. Like many an "ambivalent infertile," I started this process scared out of my wits about what motherhood would mean for my life, and my sense of self. If a few delays served to give me time to find my way, then I was ready to follow the yellow brick road.

Now, after nearly two and a half years of this, with my 33rd birthday coming up soon, that yellow walkway has definitely been built up into a red brick wall. It's still not insurmountable. In places it's only just waist high. I can still hop up and sit down on it, dangle my legs over it, and imagine jumping down from that perch to a future where the biological children we hope to have are wandering dreamily through a field. But it gets harder day by day to hoist myself up.

The other night, I dreamt that a friend had written me a letter, enclosing some old photos of my husband and me. And the friend said, "Look how happy you two were a few years ago when these photos were taken. That's who you're supposed to be. Those are the people who want to be parents. Isn't it time to stop all this struggle to bear biological children and start living family life? I really think you should adopt." In the dream, I was not entirely sure this friend was right, but it felt good to have someone offer the option. In real life, my parents are vocally opposed to the idea of adoption. And I have one friend who has actually lectured me about not being "selfish" and "impatient" and giving up to soon. (I know, I know, I should send the Barren Bitch Brigade** to beat her up.) My husband is open to adoption in theory, but says he's far from feeling ready to take that step. He's a quite a bit taller than I am; I guess he's not yet finding it hard to hop on top of the wall.

Of course my dream family originally involved biological children. I'm an utterly ordinary person and I expected to become a mother in the ordinary way. My wish was not so much to reproduce myself, as to witness the strange alchemy by which my husband and I could blend together to form a new being. We've been a couple for nearly half our lives now: a long time to imagine that magical twining, love made flesh. Still, I think that what I want more than anything is the small things, to read books, run baths, run errands, play tag. I want to meet my husband’s eyes across the dinner table as we laugh at something our child said or did. And I don't think DNA enters much into that.

So have I "hit the wall?" I don't think so. Not yet. Still the education of this Infertile continues, brick by brick.

*Thanks to the wonders of Google and the fact that the ever-fabulous Julie has kept her entire archives intact, you can still read that discussion:

**The phrase "BBB" was created by Get Up Grrl, back in the day when the very best IF stuff was being written.