Thanks again to Mel for switching me over to the Childfree group on her blogroll. I have some new readers and new additions to my blogroll, including another childfree-after-infertility blogger, who seems very cool and good humored.
This seems as good a time as any to write a bit more about why I'm trying to put infertility behind me.
Our decision to stop TTC came from the realization that we were both completely miserable and were tired of being so sad. Some people are very good at compartmentalizing. I'm not. Infertility was seeping into every aspect of my life. I was becoming a person I did not like in the least -- hypersensitive, bitter, irrational. Above all, self-centered, but in an odd construct: my idea of "self" was focused on a few square inches of my internal organs, and I defined myself by the actions, or inactions, of my ovaries and uterus. The rest of my body, and the rest of my world, were becoming irrelevant. I wasn't even a "real" woman because I was barren; how could I be the real Ellen?
These feelings remind me of another hypersensitive, irrational time in my life -- adolescence, particularly age 16, when my first boyfriend broke up with me. It was the first loss of an ideal. I made myself sick with grief and confusion. I went a little crazy. One of my friends was experiencing her first heartbreak too, and she in fact was a little crazy (as in, clinically bipolar). Looking back, I would like to laugh at the triteness of our show of misery -- black clothes, bad poetry, not eating, crying almost every day for 4 or 5 months -- but I can't. It culminated in a road trip to my ex's town to dump his sweatshirt and love letters at his door. We never made it. My friend overcorrected the car on a sharp S-curve and flipped it. I broke my neck and had to wear a halo brace for 4 months. When I came back to school, everyone thought that we had been on a suicide mission. We hadn't -- but, like Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, I recognized self-destruction in thwarted love. I could have died or been paralyzed, and everyone would have remembered how miserable I had been -- a misery I didn't plant, but I tended it, I fertilized it with self-pity and anger, I suffered it to grow into obsession, and I suffered all the more myself.
I was 16 then, and I probably needed something so dramatic as near-paralysis to get my attention. I haven't had any big revelations about our infertility, just a growing consciousness that something was amiss and that my level of obsession was not healthy. Sometimes, when you take things too much to heart, you end up suffocating your own heart. When my favorite charities (both related to women's and children's health) would call and ask for donations, I thought of snippy answers along the lines of "Sorry, I need all my money so I can have my own baby." I glared whenever I saw a public service announcement on a city bus about the importance of prenatal care. When I noticed a young mother yanking her poor toddler by the arm too forcefully, I felt sorry for myself first, and then for the child.
It was becoming all about me. Ironically, in my desire to have a child, I've been ignoring real children. I only cared about parents if they had a hard time becoming parents. I know I'm not alone in this type of thinking. I see it very often on TTC message boards. Someone posts about a really horrific situation, and others join the chorus of "we poor infertiles; it's so unfair that they can have kids and we can't." And that's true, but it's not the whole truth, or anywhere close to it. I don't think this sort of antagonism is a healthy attitude to take into adoption, especially.
So. A gain of perspective and a bud-nipping of obsession are in order. This is what I want to accomplish during our childfree period. Feelings of sadness and self-involvement are still present. The other night, for instance, D. came across a country music video called "Two Pink Lines," and I had to leave the room. Nothing raises my blood pressure so much as the sight of a tabloid cover story on "baby bumps" (I freaking hate that term). I'd rather not be around pregnant women or hear mothers talk about their deliveries.
Maybe some day we will TTC again or do IVF. I'm not ruling it out. But I'd need to know that it would represent "moving forward" in a fuller sense, and I don't believe it would be right now. (For the record: D. and I continue to discuss adoption, but our conversations are very intense and very very private, and I will not talk or blog about them.)
My parents (who are awesome) always tell me, "As long as you and D. are happy, you don't need children. Your own happiness is all that matters to us." They cite examples of friends and relatives who never had children and have very fulfilling lives. My dad, especially, urges me to keep a broad perspective. So I look to my bookshelves and consider that posterity need not be measured by DNA. I look to Sadie and see pure doggie devotion in her gaze. I look at D. and remember how happy I was when we first began to date, when I knew that love had finally, truly come to my life. I look at the world map and say to D., "Next time we're in London," and D.'s eyes brighten as he replies, "I love London." I look at kids and smile at their funny little ways, and I know that D. is smiling too.
These joys combined -- book, dog, husband, London, and other children -- are enough to make me think that being childfree can work for us and that maybe the world isn't as skewed as it has seemed of late.