I want to say first, that most of this post was written a couple of years ago to be shared with a group of adoptive mothers, many of whom have struggled or are struggling with infertility. I'm sharing it here, as support for other IF women; you are not alone, your feelings are valid, and don't let anyone tell you different.
The first baby shower I went to after being diagnosed with IF (and before adoption) was for my best friend I've known since Jr. High. I had never dreaded anything more in my life. I went, because she had always supported me through everything, and I was genuinely happy for her, but it was very hard for me.
She had asked me to be the "official photographer," so I brought my camera and while people were still arriving, I went outside to take pictures of the decorations, tables, and gifts. As soon as I stepped outside I started to cry. I had to go around to the side of the house and compose myself before rejoining the party. I didn't even tell my friend about this breakdown until a year after her son was born.
A year after I brought my son home, when I thought I was well past the sadness, my small "Mommies Only" Bible Study group had a baby shower for two of our members. Again, I was dreading it, but went anyway. They played those stupid baby shower games (I realize some people like the games, but I'm just not one of them). The first game was all about prenancy myths. Ugh. I didn't play; I just couldn't do it. A well-meaning friend asked why I wasn't playing and I gave the generic shrug, "I don't like games." But you know what I wanted to say? "Well, since I have never been, nor will I ever be, pregnant, I have no idea what the answers could be, so it would be pointless for me to play, thankyouverymuch," because that's how I felt. After the games they opened their gifts; and then came the stories about childbirth and labor, and blah, blah, blah...that's when I went back to the kitchen to help clean up. I was so glad when that was over!
Friends and family have been so supportive of me going through IF and adoption, that I feel I should be there supporting them, so as not to seem ungrateful or selfish. I don't enjoy it, it makes me sad, and I just don't wanna go (*stamping feet and crossing arms*)!
I entered adoption feeling that I had completely grieved not being able to give birth to a child; to see myself in my child's eyes or smile; and for the most part, I had. I was happy for friends who were pregnant, and had stopped tearing up when I saw a pregnant woman or walked by the maternity clothing store. But the baby showers...ouch.
My boyfriend and I have been together for three years and have a wonderful, committed relationship. He and his ex-wife get along like great friends, and she and I have reached that point as well. They have two beautiful children between them, and while I love those kids as if they were my own, there is some sadness at what I will never have. While we're happy with the children we have between us, I know that I will never have the connection with him that she has, and that is at times, incredibly difficult for me.
Adopting as a single mom, I didn't experience that same "guilt" that some IF women have, not being able to "give" their partner a biological child. I had never thought about infertility as something I would never share with my partner. I look at Rick with his son and daughter and can see the combination of their parents in their faces, in fact, I find myself looking for it, and it just makes me sad, not because of what I can't give him, but because it's a part of him that I will never be able to share.
So does all of this mean I'm really not done grieving? I don't know. I think any loss of this magnitude takes years upon years to grieve, but it will always be with you. Infertility is a part of who I am, and who I will never be. It's like a death, it's not something you can just "get over" or "forget," but something that takes time, lots of it to learn to accept and to heal. And I'm ok with that.