Secondary infertility is the biggest mind f*ck ever. If you’ve been here for a while, you know that we were unable to have another child after Reese. After years of trying, several failed rounds of IUI and fertility drugs, the week before we were about to start IVF something in my body told me to stop and accept what was.
I think about that decision often.
When I made it, I was so confident in it. It felt right. But I still look back and wonder what if.
What if we had started trying earlier.
What if we did IVF earlier.
What if I wasn’t under so much stress due to our co-parenting situation.
What if I didn’t marry a man 13 years older than me, would I feel like there is still time?
What if I wasn’t a stepmom, would I have felt more capable to take on more kids?
These questions are completely normal and entirely unhelpful.
We do that a lot as stepmoms.
We ask what If.. .
What if this wasn’t our situation?
What if we didn’t marry someone with kids?
What if we didn’t have to deal with _______ (insert stepfamily stressor here)?
Grief is hard.
The psychological definition of grief is:
Grief is a powerful emotional and physical reaction to the loss of someone or something. It is characterized by deep feelings of sadness and sorrow, and often by a powerful yearning or longing to be with that person again.
In my experience, grief isn’t just about something or someone. It’s about an idea, a dream, a hope we had for our lives. Sometimes you need to grieve idea of the life you wish you’d had.
For me, it’s been helpful to dive into the choices that I have made.
These choices help me bring back to my power.
Despite being aware of the complications, I chose to marry a man with three kids, an ex and a co-parenting agreement because he is the man I wanted to live my life with. No matter what. I chose that I choose him.
I chose to delay trying for another baby right after we had Reese, because I love those three babes and wanted to make sure that our family (including myself) had the bandwidth to handle a fifth child.
I chose to delay trying for another baby to protect my mental health. Personally I didn’t have the bandwidth to show up for all the kids.
I chose to stop fertility treatments because of Reese’s age, my emotional well being, and I realized it was what I wanted for my life 4 years earlier, not then.
Doing this doesn’t take away the pain.
But it brings us back to our choices and we realize what we have done.
I believe there are different kinds of grief. Many situations are completely out of our control.
However this is not true for all situations.
For me it’s really helpful to go thorugh the choices.
We often focus so much on the things that are outside of our control that we lose sight of all that is.
In this situation I am grieving the loss of the life that I thought I’d have.
The truth is, stepfamily or not, most of us have things we thought would happen in our life that for some reason have not.
It sucks. It hurts. It blows.
We decided to stop fertility treatment about three years ago now.
Most days I don’t think about it. Most days I think I am over it. Then every once and a while I see a baby, or a pregnancy announcement, or a success story from IVF and I feel a pain in my body that takes my breath away.
I feel it, I sit with it and then I go up to the choices I listed above.
Another powerful way to move through our grief is…
Gabby Bernstein says “we begin to heal our judgment toward others when we accept that people are our teachers in the classroom that is our life”.
I believe there is a lesson in every situation. In every loss, in every failure, every time life doesn’t turn out the way we hoped it would.
When I look at other situations with jealousy, I bring myself back to me and my own experience. The lessons that I have to learn are different than the lessons that everyone else has to to learn.
This is my lesson. This is my classroom.
Amidst the pain and frustration, are choices I have made to get me to this place. These choices have brought me so much good and love.
Most of these choices I wouldn’t unchoose.
My life has not turned out the way that I thought it would. Yes there are things that I wish would be different BUT with that I would lose so much of the good. I’m not okay with that.
I don’t know what the lesson is but I know there is one. I’m here for it. In the mean time, I focus on the things I can control, the choices I have made and the positives.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy. I’m not minimizing my pain. But you can experience all those positives while still grieving the loss of something. It’s not mutually exclusive.