My grandma Dee Dee and I were kindred spirits.
She passed away years ago. It was sudden for me. I remember when I found out, I was riding in the back seat of Mrs. Dub’s car after we had just had a double dinner date at Fazoli’s. As a result, I will never eat at Fazoli’s ever again.
When my mom told me, I erupted into sobs. Mr. R immediately put his arm around me even though he didn’t know what was going on yet. Within hours, 2 of my 3 siblings (the ones living in the same state with me) gathered together and cried.
I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I sobbed for days. I sobbed through the viewing. The sobbed through the funeral. I sobbed as all the grandkids sang one of the songs she wrote at the funeral.
I missed her.
When Dee Dee died, the heartache was intense. The crying was intense. But within a couple weeks, the sadness eased as regular life ensued. The loss of my earthly relationship with her wasn’t always on my mind any more. I wasn’t always mourning. As more and more time goes by, I think of her without feeling sadness. However, some days a picture, a memory, a question pops into my mind and I miss her intensely for a few minutes. Then, I take a deep breath, call my mom, make a treat, kiss on her great grandchildren that she didn’t get to meet and those pangs go away.
In my religion, we believe that families can be together forever. I knew her death was not the end of her spirit. I knew she was still there, somewhere and that I would see her again. Having an eternal
perspective always helps in deep matters like this, I think.
Honestly, this is how I think of infertility (or sterility) too. For the R house, sterility was the death of the dream of being co-creators with God. That is something that, for whatever reason (and I believe I know the why for my individual self) was denied Mr. R and I in this life.
At first, the information was horrifying. Just like when Dee Dee died, Mr. R comforted me, my family rallied around me, there was lots of sobbing and there was some intense sadness.
Those first few days after finding out were rough–I cried at the gym. I cried at school. I cried in the car when I was alone. I cried myself to sleep.
There is, however, a part of me that I found in infertility and found it almost immediately: strength. The strength to overcome.
For about 2 weeks, I was in a slump. But, as the news began to settle, so did the sadness. Lots of prayers were said. Lots of miracles happened. I have written about those before. The most incredible of which was my change of heart. I went from feeling broken to feeling empowered, feeling special, unique. I think in these situations, God can bless us with that if we let Him.
Just a few weeks after the shock of sterility was delivered, we put our adoption papers in. We only put our papers in after we had dealt with the grief for the most part. I wasn’t in mourning any more. I wasn’t a zombie. I was given a new zest.
There are still a few (very few!) medical treatments that are available to us, but they just don’t feel right for our family. We will always be sterile. And that’s okay. It’s one of the things that makes us special. We had some serious conversations as husband and wife about adoption and life and family and our goals. Ultimately, our goal was to be parents. Adoption felt like the perfect match for us. It resonated with us. It brought peace.
The idea of being a parent outweighed the desire to create life. Adoption was the cure for our empty home and our empty hearts; it was not fix for the dream that died with the news of sterility. I will never feel a baby grow inside of me. I will never knew the sacred emotions of delivery. That is a part of being a woman that I will never know. That is the part of me that can’t participate in conversations with other women. At times, that is the part of me that feels inadequate–but thank heavens I don’t feel like that on a regular basis or I would be a disaster. We are talking a few moments a couple times a year. I have developed thick skin, but sometimes, well, Barbara Eck Menning says it best:
“My infertility resides in my heart as an old friend. I do not hear from it for weeks at a time, and then, a moment, a thought, a baby announcement or some such thing, and I will feel the tug-maybe even be sad or shed a few tears. And I think, “There’s my old friend.” It will always be part of me…”
Before children ever even came into our home, infertility was already in the back of my mind–it wasn’t when Tyson arrived nor when Gavin arrived, it came with a change of heart, understanding and a lot of miracles. It was a miracle that happened over a series of days. It was truly incredible. The Lord needed me to deal with it quickly because Tyson was already on his way. I believe Heavenly Father amplified the healing process for me. The stabs and pangs of being denied something that is a basic function of the human experience were not as intense.
I would never know what it was like to use my creative powers in this life, but God did provide a way for me to be a mother through the grace of two brave women that we know and love and call Nicole and Joniece.
God had whispered to me why it was that He needed me to be different and why I couldn’t be a co-creator with Him in making life. I accepted that and the acceptance brought immediate peace. I believe God still speaks to us. I believe in continuing revelation. I feel lucky that I know the why and think about it often.
That said, there are still sad moments. I don’t even think they are bad days anymore, just sad moments here and there every few months. It’s very similar to the death of my grandmother. Just as every now and again something will remind me of her so intensely that I will miss her to the point of a few tears, something will remind me that the gift of being a co-creator with God is being withheld from me. I will shed a tear or two, whine a little, pout, perhaps do some writing, some emotional baking and then I will hug on my family. Just like it is when I miss my grandmother, those pangs are short lived, usually about 10-20 minutes.
Here is the cool thing about feeling those sharp pains from infertility–they bring me back to the miracles. They allow me to open up my heart to my Father in Heaven and have him remind me once again of the unique roll I play on this earth, that I am different, that there is a plan for me, that He loves me, that He knows me. Peace comes again and life goes on–just like it is with the death of Grandma Dee Dee.
Not everyone feels this way. Some of you feel the intensity of infertility every day. Some of you feel paralyzed by it–I know because you email me about it and I weep with you. I don’t know exactly what you are going through, I don’t know all your emotions, but I have had a bitter taste and I can empathize. Oh how I pray for you to be comforted and find your own miracles of healing in one way or another. Some of you have a few bad moments here or there, some of you have bad weeks, months, years. Some of you are blessed to not have these feelings. What a gift! Either way, the common thread of infertility should unite us; only about 10% of the population knows the heartache we are going through or have gone through.
Thanks for letting me lean on you when I was having a sad moment the other day. Please know that I am here for you to lean on as well. And thanks to the Lord for taking something ugly like the sudden loss of my dear grandma Dee Dee and turning it into something I can learn from. Once again my favorite scripture rings in my ears. “The Lord hath anointed me … to give … beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:1, 3).
I’m Lindsey Redfern. My husband and I are the proud parents of three seriously adorable boys and one gorgeous little girl through open adoption. I am also Editor of Adoption.com and a silversmith at Charmed Collections. As an infertility survivor and open adoption advocate, I’m here to offer help, hope, and humor as you navigate the bittersweetness of your journey.