This blog posting is a little harder to write than ones in the past. I feel like writing about strength and waiting, hormones and cycles, stories and verses comes easier than this next topic – sadness. Writing about sadness feels so sticky to me that I nearly want to skip it. Putting it down in words, written out for everyone to read, seems scary. But in the promise of being honest in all parts of this journey, I shall share.
Infertility has a range of emotions that comes with it – many that you have seen in past blogs: Worry, frustration, pain (physical and mental), joy, sorrow, excitement, celebration … and now, sadness. To those that haven’t experienced the sadness I am talking about, may be confused with how “sadness” differs from “sorrow” or “grief”, but it just does. The kind of sadness I am talking about feels like a big blanket that just wraps around you. It doesn’t make you feel incapacitated or hits you violently – it is just there, like a gentle linger of pain. It becomes a sixth sense. Sometimes this sadness feels like you can taste it, feel it, touch it. The awareness of the sadness makes you want to cry, out of pure sympathy for yourself that you feel so … sad.
Let me explain.
This past week (Saturday to Saturday) I was able to sneak away with my husband’s family to Mexico, an annual family trip that is one of the highlights of my year. This year, Josh’s parents, his younger brother and his wife and their two kids, Scarlett (2 ½) and Kinsley (11 months) were there as always. This being my 9th year down there with them, I knew what to expect. Food. Sun. Pool time. Spa trips. More food. I adore our Mexico trips. But this time, I was hit with something I didn’t expect.
Thursday morning was when I became aware of the blanket that was wrapping around me. As I sat in the pool in the morning, I looked around at all of the families playing and splashing around me. I watched as a mom rubbed her little boy with sunscreen and as a dad wrestled arm floaties onto his little girl. (He forgot to dip them in water first and was really struggling.) I watched as grandparents took pictures and tired mom’s swatted away their 9 year olds attempt to splash them. I watched as a mom floated by with her tiny baby whispering words in Spanish to him as he giggled. And I felt sad.
I realized that it’s been a long time since I have been surrounded with families for such a long span of time. I can do our churches kids ministry program for 4-5 hours straight, or spend time with nieces and friends kids for a half day. But I had no idea being around kids and full families for 8 days straight would break my heart as much as it did.
The blanket tightened.
I suddenly felt hot from the inside. My heart started to cry. I had a dramatic moment in my head as I watched this mom float past that screamed “HOW MUCH DID YOU WANT THAT BABY? How hard did you try? Did it come easy? Was he planned? Did your heart break before you had him? Do you realize how lucky you are?” (Just typing those words are making my eyes fills with tears.) The sadness moved up my neck. I saw joy all around me and felt so … empty. I spent lunch in our suite, hoping that some quiet reflection and Spanish Ellen would cheer me up. (It didn’t).
Later that afternoon, I walked over to the spa with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. I didn’t want to let on that I felt so sad. I practiced saying it out loud in my room before I left, just saying “I feel sad today” and couldn’t get it out without crying. I was still processing the sadness. We relaxed in the hot tub, chatted in the sauna, sweated in the steam room. Finally we wrapped ourselves in plush robes and grabbed cool washcloths soaked in aromatic scents and laid down in the quiet relaxation room. As I placed the washcloth over my face, I started to cry. Knowing now was NOT the time, I tried to stop, which only made the silent tears worse. I was terrified someone would try to talk to me. I wasn’t ready yet to share my sadness.
I kept thinking “Chelsea, you are being so silly! You are in Mexico, at a spa, about to go get a 50 minute massage that you aren’t paying for surrounded by people you love – WHY ARE YOU SO SAD. Get your act together.”
And that’s when I realized, it was okay to be sad.
Infertility comes with a constant battle for strength. We quote verses about God strengthening us. We pin fancy quotes with bolded words and convince ourselves it WILL happen! It’s GOD’s time! We can DO this! We Instagram encouraging words and double tap others as a way to say “Hang in there!” We brush away the sadness so we can stay strong. We avoid tears because sometimes it scares us to think they may never stop. But it was in that moment when I realized, it’s okay to be sad right now.
It’s okay to want a family. It’s okay to be sad that I can’t watch Josh try to smush air floaties on our kids arms and don’t have grubby chubby baby hands reaching for me, their mom. It’s okay to be sad that we haven’t been able to make Josh’s or my parent’s grandparents to our kids yet. It’s okay to be sad that my body isn’t working like it supposed to. It’s okay to be sad when acknowledging this gigantic gaping hole in my heart.
It was in that moment I felt like God unwrapped my blanket of sadness, stepped into it with me and closed us both back up in it.
Our names were called (Jessi? Moniqua? Laurrrrie?) and I regained composure quickly enough to pad my way to the next, dark relaxation room. Our massage therapists quickly grabbed us from there and ushered us into our private rooms. As I laid face down, my head poking out of the face rest, eyes looking at the ground, I kept saying to myself “it’s okay to be sad.” The more I said it in my head, the more I cried. I spent the first 20 minutes of the massage watching my tears drop *plink* *plink* *plink* *plink* and hit the floor underneath me. I knew God was in my sadness blanket with me and wanted me to acknowledge the emotions that are so real.
Most days are good days. In fact, I felt a little better that night after my cathartic cry. The rest of the week was wonderful and I am feeling stronger again. But I don’t forget the sadness. I don’t forget the way it tastes. It seems like it’s just a breath away. I am learning that being sad is okay – I am typically someone who will withdrawal when I am sad. I get quieter, more serious. So if I seem “normal” and bubbly, you can assume it’s a good day and not an act. I don’t have the strength when I am sad to fake happy.
So now you know. I get sad. I cry. I hurt for what I don’t have. Yes, I know God is in control and I have never felt alone or abandoned. On sad days, my strength comes from simply knowing He is with me in my sadness.
I am about 1 ½ weeks into my birth control pill pack, which may have something to do with the wave-like emotions I have felt lately. We have our last IVF Consult appointment tomorrow morning at 8 am. There we will give our final blood samples, sign our paperwork, prepay for the cycle, obtain our prescriptions and make all of our appointments for the next 8 weeks. It is SUCH an exciting time. Part of me feels sad that I know what to expect, that this won’t all be new. There was such anticipation with each picture that was taken, each embryo that was introduced, every meal that was brought over. It seems a little more dulled now, knowing what the outcome can and may be, and I keep praying against apprehension so that I can savor the joy in this miraculous experience again.
I have 13 days left of work. My shots start in 21 days. I am excited, I really am. I am also just a little bit scared.
Continued prayers are always appreciated.