Recently, as I thought about the years I’ve spent wanting and waiting for a baby, I discovered an unexpected correlation between my experience with infertility and the five stages of grief people talk about with death. Maybe that sounds a little dramatic, but it’s actually a surprisingly good fit to describe my experience of loss, which of course isn’t a “loss” as much as a “never-had,” but you know what I mean.
The first year or so, I was convinced there was nothing wrong, denying and refusing to face that this might possibly be a problem for me. The next year I experienced anger, bitterness, and annoyance at anyone and everyone who had a baby or had the nerve to get pregnant when I couldn’t . Later I found myself convinced that if I prayed the right way with enough faith and persistence or if I could just learn the thing God was trying to teach me, then I would finally get my baby (bargaining). That didn’t work and last year at this time I found myself in a deep and dark depression.
Supposedly the last stage of grief is acceptance. Have I finally gotten there? I guess I don’t know. I don’t know what acceptance would look like. Even as I write these words I find myself assuming on some level that reaching the acceptance stage means I should be rewarded with a baby, but of course that’s not the way it works.
I guess acceptance would feel like peace. Like faith, trust, hope, and optimism about the future but also happiness and fulfillment in today. Acceptance would feel like not wishing away each day because it gets me one day closer to motherhood, but experiencing each day for what it can offer. Acceptance would look like living in and embracing the present moment.
If that’s what acceptance looks like, then maybe I am there after all. I may not embrace the present moment all the time or even once a day, but I do find myself in that space more often than I used to. I’m doing things with my life that I enjoy. I’m productive and have things I’m working toward. I have an incredible marriage and wonderful relationships. These things are my every day. In the midst of this mess of a trial, somehow I’ve crafted a life I truly love and enjoy.
Whether I become pregnant tomorrow, in two months, or in two years, I hope to remember that I always have that ability: to accept the present moment and in it, design a life full of love, intention, and joy.