Friday, 20 September 2013

Making room for hope

Or talking myself up. Whichever.

I feel like maybe I gave people the wrong impression with my last post, as though I've given up on ever getting pregnant and am no longer invested in the process at all. Or like maybe I can only find energy now for complaining about all the things I've given up in the course of trying to get that damned elusive baby. (WHERE ARE YOU BABY?!) I'm the first to admit that this whole process has exhausted me; we've been at it for a while now. And yes, distancing my emotions from the expectation of a baby specific outcome is these days generally a safer bet - or at least easier (I think?) - than dealing with more stuff like this should it prove not to have a purpose under our roof. That thought's too painful.

But the truth is, of course, I care a lot. I've invested practically all of myself, and without an ounce of regret I might add: whatever the outcome, I know it'll all be worth it in the end. I really want this. And so, I'm trying to remind myself that it's also ok to want it that badly. To hope. That this one simple yet intense human act doesn't make me naive or foolish.

I'm trying to un-learn fear and re-learn hope.

I'm trying to make my mantra: if so much crazy bad stuff can happen to us, why not crazy good stuff too?


A lot of women, and bloggers in particular, can recount dreams they have of one day getting a positive pregnancy test or holding their child in their arms. They can relate these dreams, whether waking or asleep, in great detail and with a multicoloured vibrancy. I'm a bit envious of those women really. And also, it sometimes makes me feel like I'm doing a bad job at being an infertile in search of a baby of my own. Maybe I don't want it enough? Maybe my inability to connect with that part of myself is what's preventing me from becoming pregnant? I try to think back to before the time when pregnancy became some esoteric experience filled with fear and danger and which only happened to other people, before trying for a baby became this pot-holed road of disappointment and loneliness and hurt, to when these possibilities were an exciting time. You know, just to try to remember if it was different back then; did I have vivid dreams, specific plans I envisioned for us then? The thing is, I can't remember exactly. But I think it's there; buried deep, but there.

H reports that he has had several dreams in recent days in which we're carrying or playing with our baby. He says they are brief but vivid. It makes me feel good that he can carry the hope torch for a while. (And believe me, this is something of a novelty, since there was a time in recent memory when he was incapable of putting so much of his heart on that particular line.) I'm so grateful to have him there when my hope is flagging, to say with the great conviction that I often can't seem to find, that yes, one way or the other we will have our baby; be sure of it.

So obviously, I can see the benefits of this kind of dreaming, the optimism it can encourage, and the calm that comes with that. And scary as it is, I'm trying to make room for it. I've spent a lot of time meditating recently on the art of letting go. But the spiritual corollary of that, I suppose, is to hold on to the stuff that really matters. To borrow an analogy (granola-y hippy alert!) from yoga practice: when you do mindful breathing in lotus pose, the exhale releases stress and worry, while the inhale invites positive energy inward.

But you know - just as with those complimentary yoga movements that can only occur in tandem - I'm pretty sure that making room for that hopefulness was only possible because I managed to face the worst case scenarios, to confront my fears. I feel like there is so much more to be gained from embracing the what ifs (even the scary ones) than pushing them away, or struggling against them. And I needed to know, for myself, that our life is going to be wonderful dammit, regardless if we become the Horrible Resolution many infertile woman fear most. I think it will. I won't fall apart. I know we'll keep laughing. Of course if the IVF doesn't work out, I'll be devastated. But truthfully? I don't think there is anything anymore, (short of losing H) that could destroy me the way losing S did.

So here I am, gathering the hope around me. In this strange space of anticipation and yet cautious not to expect too much, I'm doing the simple little things that I can. Filling my body with nourishing stuff (oh ok, and ice cream) has been a good place to start. I'm surprised I don't perpetually smell of avocados, is all I'm sayin'... Today on my way to work, when I saw an adorable mom pushing her adorable child through the park in its adorable stroller, I didn't think: gggrrrr <while-grinding-teeth>... Instead, I allowed myself to think: that could be me next year. Earlier this week, instead of recoiling in horror at the very thought, I allowed myself to sit for an entire hour and look at baby-related posts at Craftgawker, sighing contentedly all the while. In short only actually, not so much: I'm trying to visualise myself into a reality where I might one day have a swelling belly. See a little heart beating on an ultrasound. Deliver a baby. See echos of myself and H (and maybe even S) in an expressive little face, a little face that is ours, to keep. Buy these baby booties:

So cute it hurts. No really, it hurts a little. Source

(...............this all is scary even to type, people............)

I should say here, that very fortuitously, two bloggers have recently encouraged me with their own ways of expressing hope for the future: Jessah at Dreaming of Dimples and Catherine at Twinkle of Light have both shared posts in the last weeks that have touched and inspired me. I love and admire their ideas for connecting to their maternal longings. Thank you ladies; it's stuff like this that gives me the strength to keep going some days.


For the longest time, there was always this: each month while hope was strong, I would get maniacally excited as I misinterpreted lots of twinges and food cravings and basically projected and over-interpreted all my deepest desires onto one single unlikely outcome; and each month, I would later feel humiliated, tricked, foolish. (Like I said, scary.)

But (for anyone else whose thought processes lean towards the self-critical) you know what? It's not foolish. It's resilient. And damned if that isn't a really good - sometimes life saving - quality to possess.

It's like I've always said: hope is a bitch. Turns out though, she can also be a good person to hang out with.  I guess instead of only hanging out with the too-cool-for-school kids, I'm trying to keep better company these days.

Bloggy friends, I am curious to know: are you able to envision your future selves pregnant, or with your living children? Are your dreams vague or vivid? Am I the only one who struggles with thinking and visualising in tangible ways the future I hope to have with my family? How to overcome this mental block?


  1. Wow, you said it so well. Hope is a bitch and at the same time, she's great to have around!

    I was never able to envision myself pregnant, but I can totally picture myself as a Mom. Maybe that's why I feel so strongly about adoption. I used to feel like something was wrong with me that I couldn't picture myself with a belly, especially because my friend who had a baby said she could totally picture her pregnant belly before she had it.

    In the end, I've decided that hope comes in all forms. Some people are able to daydream and visualize things, and for others like us, it is just an abstract feeling in the pit of our stomachs. So you don't have to overcome the mental block, because there is nothing wrong with the way you hope :)

  2. I love this: if so much crazy bad stuff can happen to us, why not crazy good stuff too?

    We are adopting, and for me, it totally changes from day to day (or actually, depending on which part of my cycle I'm on!) as to how I feel/think. Some days/weeks/moments it's totally buying baby stuff, and believing we'll get "The Call" soon, and other days it's a "nothing" feeling - like, I don't think we'll ever get chosen and just feeling "meh" about it.

  3. Oh my, those baby booties really ARE so cute that they hurt. And I absolutely love your mantra. You and H deserve the crazy good stuff. I've never met you, but I've read enough of your writing that I can feel your spirit out there (is that weird?), and I truly believe the crazy good is on its way to you.

  4. Hello, from ICLW! I loved this post! I really did. I am one of the lucky ones, and managed to have one child before going on to have loss after loss. I can no longer visualize a future with a second child. At all. But I'm at the tail end of my journey- we have one cycle left before we're calling it quits forever. For years, I was very much like you- hopeful to the point of obsessing over phantom symptoms, feeling so sure I was pregnant, only to feel foolish in the end. I am sick, sick, SICK of the roller coaster now, and I'm ready to stop riding, but I don't regret riding the wave of hope and despair for as long as I did. Hope can be a bitch, but you're right- she's good company when she's around. Hugs, an best of luck to you!

  5. It's definitely hard to picture... don't feel bad. I think that's why so many women who experience infertility say words like "surreal" when they finally get pregnant. We want to hope, but it's so hard to imagine.

    The best/worst for me so far has been a vivid dream where my baby was born. I felt such an overwhelming relief during that dream... but then when I woke up, it was twice as awful because it got ripped away all over again.

    And that's interesting, you said IVF failure wouldn't be as hard as losing S. I sort of feel the same way. I have no failed cycles yet but I do have 2 MCs... I'm assuming the latter is worse. We'll see, I guess.

  6. I found your blog through Kasey's. I wanted to say hello and that I understand and it hurts so much to go through infertility. I envision myself pregnant in the future. Perhaps it is just hope. I just found out my current pregnancy is ectopic :(

  7. Hi from ICLW. Your word really touched me brought me back to the trenches of all this. Hang in there, I'll say a prayer for you!

  8. Hope is great while she hangs around. She only becomes a bitch when she abandons us.

    My therapist wanted me to visualize things going well from the egg retrieval on. I had a hard time visualizing too far into the future, but if I could focus on the next step, I did okay. Like, when we were between egg retrieval and transfer, I pictured those little embryos dividing away. I still have a hard time picturing myself with a big pregnant belly. When I see hugely pregnant women, I'm like, woah, is that really going to be me? It's still hard to wrap my brain around. But I think it's partly out of self-protection, and that's okay. I'm glad H is being hopeful for both of you right now!

  9. It's so nice that you are allowing room for hope. I do sometimes have vivid dreams about my babies. They could be newborn or toddlers, with my husband's curly hair and tall nose, but also looked vividly Chinese like me. I also sometimes allow myself to think of my life with a newborn. But then I also quickly go back to thinking that it may never happen. I don't know how to overcome the mental block but I like that you were allowing yourself to think that it could happen to you next year when you saw that mom and her kid.

  10. Hello from ICLW! For the longest time, hope was the hardest thing to hold on to. Some days it would be there, flowing freely through me without even a conscious thought of how it happened, but most days I was so fully aware of what was missing in our lives that there was no room for hope to grow. In the beginning, I would have those vivid dreams you speak of, but the longer we carried on with our journey, the less frequent they were. Even now, when we are only a couple of months away from finalizing our little boy's adoption, I still find myself holding my breath in anticipation of the negatives that could interfere with our happily ever after.

    Here's hoping you find your hope again soon and that your baby follows soon!

  11. Hi from ICLW! I have had one and only one very vivid dream about us with a child. I like to day dream sometimes about what our future could hold and DH and I often talk of "when we have kids were gonna do this/that/the other.." but other times those thoughts bring up the raw emotion that comes with knowing there are no babies here yet and will there ever be. Hope is so important, but so is fear. I always try to keep both in balance.

    Hoping for you!

  12. Hi from ICLW! What a great post - throughout IF treatment (and if I'm being completely honest with myself, for years before) I struggled to imagine myself pregnant. I think there was a part of me that deep down knew I wouldn't be able to do it.

    Since we made the decision to stop treatment I can and still regularly imagine our lives with a family. It's going to take us some time to get to adoption, but in an odd way it feels like a pregnancy was a concept we needed to get past in order to move on to how we would really build our family.

  13. Hope is a tricky emotion. We need it, and yet the let down afterwards can be devastating. But, similar to yourself, I think I'm coming around to accepting that hope means resilience. Of course you have to allow yourself to hope that you will have a baby one day. I try to balance by reminding myself that pregnancy is not the only thing I hope for in my life. Every good relationship, every good thought, dream, goal, and every good day is a hopeful promise for tomorrow. The hope doesn't have to be all and only for a baby. As for those crazy 2ww waits, I don't know if I will ever be able to face them with equanimity. I just try to view my own obsessions with a kind of wry detachment and humour.

  14. I don't really think it's a mental block that needs to be overcome... I sort of see it as the bodies way of protecting us because everyone is made up differently. I had maybe one or two dreams of having a child, and even then it was skecthcy and sad. I remember one of being pregnant with twins, but them passing away at 18wks or so... I woke up and had to immediately throw up. Usually I just dreamed of the zombie apocalypse- my subconscious has some weird priorities. Even pregnant I didn't dream of pregnancy or children, just more zombies. In the early days I day dreamed about children, but as time and losses grew I stopped doing even that. I started picturing life without children more than with.

    The other night I dreamed I had a positive pregnancy test. It was scary, given my medical issues. Having V gave me more hope, and honestly that scares me sometimes. I don't want to have hope, because if I do it means I could get hurt again. And I spent too long being hurt already.

    I think you have to do whatever it is you have to do. We are all built differently, we all cope differently, and some days we need one method of coping while the next we may need the opposite. Infertility and all this is... well, it's a mess. And dealing with it can be a mess. So I think it's okay if sometimes we need to hope, and sometimes we need to let it go.

  15. I think that maybe in the beginning, before I knew I was one of the lucky ones with IF, I could see myself pregnant and with a child. I'm not sure if they were ever really concrete visualizations or dreams, but I was able to see myself in some way as pregnant or a mom. As time went on and cycle after cycle of BFN, it definitely got harder. To the point that I was just done and even seeing a therapist about how I would cope if my last IVF cycle didn't work out and I would never be a mom (adoption just isnt' for us). Hope against hope, I got pregnant, but still couldn't imagine any of it. The therapist had me do a visualization story (I blogged about it in "When, not if"), which helped some, but pregnancy was a looong, but good, journey.

    You are definitely not alone in having difficulties seeing yourself this way. I especially think IF helps skew our thinking a bit with all of this.


Don't be shy, leave a comment. Your words brighten my day!