To Love a Rose: An Ethiopian Adoption Journal

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The (forever?) Empty Womb

Photo courtesy of TheMidnightOrange.

*First, I think I need to preface this post by stating loudly that I'm not angry or upset or bitter or jealous of other women's pregnancies.  I'M REALLY NOT!  In fact, when I hear of other women becoming pregnant after long, arduous, heart-wrenching battles with IF, I am actually cheering right along with them.  So, PLEASE, don't get all righteous telling me how I should be glad for others or how I sound bitter...I am glad for others...I'm actually not bitter.  Everything I'm writing about today is really just observation and a healthy dose of realization on my part...about what my future might really (not) hold.*

The past few months have been fraught with pregnancy and birth announcements - many people I know IRL, some I've only ever known via the Internet.  Some are those of fellow cysters or those battling some other form of IF; several have been "regular" folks who just got knocked up the "old fashioned way".  But today, I found out that pretty much the last girl I had known to be battling IF is now pregnant via donor eggs and IVF.

For some reason it all really hit me:

I am the LAST one left standing.  I am the last "barren woman"...I am a statistic.

I remember sitting in our new RE's office way back in 2010 with Mr. C, god, we were so naive and optimistic - so gloriously optimistic!  Doctor was laying everything out about my recent diagnosis of PCOS.  While he explained all that would be most likely needed to get me pregnant, he noted that we shouldn't worry; because only about 5% of women with PCOS don't end up getting pregnant when medical intervention is applied.

GREAT!  We thought.  We'll be pregnant in no time, then!

Wow, gloriously optimistic, indeed.

Fast forward through all of the meds, procedures, and IUI's; and it looks like we are that 5% that don't ever succeed.  True, we never dove into IVF; but at that point, the money had run out, and it was either adoption (= guarantee) or IVF (= no guarantee).  We went with adoption (which doesn't mean it isn't difficult and fraught with disappointment...only that in the END, there will be a baby).

Sometimes it blows my mind that this didn't work out for us.  Sometimes I cry.  Sometimes I'm super angry and feel like screaming or throwing a pregnant lady off a cliff (okay, not REALLY).  Sometimes I get into a depressed funk that lasts for days.  Sometimes the thought comes and then flits away quickly as if I never really cared about it at all.  Strange.

Now that I'm so far removed from the "trying" (and "failing") stages, I can say that more than anything I wonder a lot about what I'm "missing out on".  And then, I have to think, "What if it truly never happens - EVER?"  What if I die, and I never conceived or gave birth?  What does that mean?  How will it affect me, my life, my family, my marriage?  Does it even matter?  What's God's will?  Or is it all just on me, did I not try hard enough to make this happen?

Knowing what I know now about all the weird, crazy, seemingly random steps God took to protect my sister and my mom from their health issues, it makes me wonder if infertility is a way of protecting me and Mr. C too.  Would we have a terrible miscarriage?  Do I have a malformation like my sister that would also most likely burst if I ever got pregnant that I just don't know about?  Would our child inherit some crazy cancer gene and have to fight for his/her life like my mom?  Would they have epilepsy and get hurt like Mr. C or my sister?  The questions abound, but at the end of the day the reality is - "who knows?"  We could  conceive and have a perfectly healthy pregnancy and child.  OR, something could go terribly wrong.  But, aren't these things every  parent-to-be has to consider?  So, really, am I just trying to make myself feel better over the fact that we FAILED to conceive?

Possibly.  Very probably, actually.

When I was in college, I took an English class entitled "Rooms, Tombs, and Wombs in Women's Literature".  Although there were many themes that ran through this class' coursework, the undercurrent was always the same - all of these things are meant to be filled in one way or another.  And in regards to women, the womb is the most powerful container of all.  Within its confines, the spark of life itself bursts into being; it is truly the most incredible act of creation a woman can participate in.

But what does that mean for a woman like me?  What if I never get to "create" in that way?  Am I in some way deficient?  Do I miss out on touching the universe on some higher plane?

In my heart, I want to believe that these questions are silly; but then again, are they?  I can't be the only infertile woman wondering these things...

I don't have any answers to these multitudinous quandaries...perhaps I never will, and probably there is a life lesson even in that realization as well.  All  I know is that my womb is has never been "full", I have never felt life bursting at the seams within me (our miscarriages were too early for me to even realize I was truly pregnant, let alone feel anything)...and there is a very great possibility that I never will.  I wish I knew how I felt about that prospect, but at the moment I just don't know yet.

Is anyone else out there contemplating the reality of a (possibly) forever empty womb?  How do you cope with this reality?  Does it bother you or do you rarely think of it?

Just thoughts...I hope I can expound upon this at a later time...these have been fairly rambling thoughts, but I think all of these questions are weighty and deserve real and honest contemplation.

Love Love Love,


  1. Just a few weeks ago, I was also contemplating the possibility of a forever empty womb. I decided that our IVF would be our last shot at a baby and if it didn't work, that would be that. I'd have to learn to accept not becoming a mother. Of course it didn't sit well, and I thought of it a lot. I cried over it a lot. But there was some peace in knowing that I had made the decision of when I would say "enough is enough." And there was peace in knowing that I had at least tried. There was a peace in knowing, once and for all, how my journey would end. And it was easier for me to get to that place, because I know that my child bearing years are quickly winding down.

    I can absolutely understand how painful this is for you. I wish I could tell you how it's going to turn out. I wish I could tell you that it's going to turn out the way you always dreamed it would. If it doesn't, I imagine there will always be a lingering pain, but I feel that I know you well enough to know that you will still lead a beautiful, happy, blessed, WHOLE life.


  2. Jenny, I hope you know that I am absolutely ECSTATIC for you and J; I really am! When I heard that Keiko was also pregnant after all she'd been through, I was over the moon for her as well. I truly, truly am so happy for all of my fellow IF'ers out there who FINALLY succeed after so much pain and heart-ache. I'm sure you understand that, but I just wanted to make sure I said it "out loud"; because it's true. :)

    However delighted (and I AM delighted) about adoption I may be, I have to figure out what I'm willing to endure in the future... Will we TTC again? Will we do medicated cycles or only go at it naturally and "just see what happens"? There are so many "what ifs", and the biggest for me is "What if we decide never to TTC again?" OR "What if we TTC again and it still doesn't work?"

    I know I'm not the only IF'er having to contemplate these things, and they are REAL and rather unpleasant questions that I never thought I'd have to consider in my life. The weirdest thing about it is, I KNOW I'm going to be a mother (through adoption); so, these questions have the added dimension of being just about "ME", really. Do I want to experience pregnancy/birth? Because, at the end of the day, Mr. C and I WILL be parents via adoption; so it's not about being a parent's about being a certain kind of parent; and I'm going to have to decide if that is important to me or not.

    I don't think I know the answer yet, and that's okay with me. I have some time (maybe?) to work things out and get things straight before we proceed either way. It's just strange to think after so much fighting and trying so hard that the real, truthful, and final answer might actually just simply be "no".

  3. Hm... I want to experience it too. It's part of who all these other women are, why can't it be me too? I admit I've always been a very jealous person though, and I always hated hearing how jealous people are "bad people" because I felt it "wasn't my fault". Now, I don't even have a lover with which to attempt creating a child. I wonder how old I will be once I both have that, and have healed my body (if possible). Then I wonder if all the damage my body has taken means my eggs are damaged too?

    Reading about other people with the same problem or not doesn't help me at all, I can only look so much at the helplessness or the happiness of other people before feeling empty and nowhere. Lately, I've been reading about other aspects of femininity that interest me. Stuff that would surely be laughed at by most of my friends :D but learning things that can interest me or help me in some way keeps me going in all aspects of life.

    Currently, I'm reading about using the "Microcosmic Orbit" for energy, healing and youthfulness, and/or "Slaying the red dragon"... Actually a practice that takes the energy from your eggs and lets you use it, even possibly stopping your periods intentionally... I wonder about the women who did these things in ancient times, when/did they have children why/why not? etc. And interestingly, it sounds like half the process of kundalini yoga, and reminds me of secret society practices. Anyway, I have to find new things to expand my thoughts and learn new interpretations of things to keep myself out of the rut.

    I'm kind of paranoid of commenting because last time I did the post was deleted =P I still think you should find a legit traditional Chinese herbalist to diagnose and prescribe for you!...If you didn't already.

  4. Kim,

    I deleted your post? Or I deleted my entire post? I wouldn't have deleted due to your post. :) It might have been the post where I felt I was too sad and needed to be more positive.

    I'm so sorry that you have struggled so much with this weighty possibility. Like I said, no matter how excited I am about being an adoptive mother, I wonder from time to time if I am missing out on the whole pregnancy/birth experience. I suppose I'm most upset that my choices were taken from me. However, then, some days I feel I have no desire at all to give birth - odd, I know.

    I'm glad, though, that you have found things to fulfill your heart, mind, and soul; and I hope you continue to find things all around you that fulfill you in every way possible. (((HUGS)))

  5. Yeah, where you deleted your entire post (which I commented on), I was just being superstitious ;)

    I am SO SO SO HAPPY FOR YOU RIGHT NOW! What an amazing anniversary that must have been!! I actually cried a little when I read that (...again), hahaha... I can really feel the things you are expressing. I'm so happy for you, and for your child who is so fortunate to be entering such a loving family :) I only recently came to finally understand what praying really means, in fact, JUST before I found this blog. I finally learned to understand it, and I have been praying for you and your family since. No matter what happens, I'll always remember learning things like this deep down - the positive and beautiful nature that people can possess.

    Now.. I hope my previous comment here wasn't too negative... Re-reading my own text bothers me, argh. I'm fine anyway :P Thank you!