(Okay, this shit is a little heavy. That’s just where I am today, okay?)
This morning, I was listening to the news and there was a story about a family coping with the current flooding in Texas. Their home had been flooded up to two feet, and they were now sorting through what could be saved and what could not.
The couple, originally from Canada, had two different views (or at least how the story framed it up.) Though both were upset, the mother was on the verge of tears. She recounted how she ran around the house gathering up her children’s favorite toys, books, and other memories before they could get destroyed by the water. She was audibly emotional when she told the reporter that her grandparents’ chest was likely ruined. This wasn’t what she wanted for her family or her kids.
The father, on the other hand, said something along the lines of “I think this is good for my children to experience struggle. It’s good for them to see what recovery looks like.”
And I’ve been thinking about this all morning. What does “recovery” look like?
I’ve often thought about infertility as I would any other disease. Getting pregnant isn’t a cure, but more a temporary treatment. I will always be infertile, just as someone who has had cancer will have always had cancer, even if they are in remission. Or an alcoholic will always be an alcoholic, even if they haven’t actively relapsed.
[Before I continue, I want to be 100% clear. I don’t mean to be flippant about cancer or alcoholism. These are serious diseases, and I have nothing but compassion for people who have experienced them.]
Pregnancy doesn’t erase infertility like it never happened. I think of it almost like a skip in the record, one that jumps to the next track without warning. Treatment allowed me to temporarily become “fertile” so I can to have and maintain a pregnancy. After Chick is born, it isn’t like I’ll magically be able to get pregnant without a whole lotta scientific intervention. This, in a sense, isn’t curable as much as it is by-pass-able.
Which brings me back to my original question… If I’ll always be infertile, what does my recovery look like? What does it mean to put myself back together once the metaphorical waters have subsided?
The thing about recovery is that it also implies wreckage, doesn’t it? Going back to the couple in Texas for a minute… their home was destroyed, and recovery meant going through what could be salvaged and what had to be thrown out. In order to recover, you have to recognize that something happened, that you can’t just go back to how things were, that there are pieces of your life you can’t save. Even the things you loved most, like your grandparents chest or your child’s beloved toy. You have to let go of them, or else they could carry toxic mold spores. (Perhaps I’m taking this flood analogy too far…)
There is a thread here that connects to my recent fatwa on Spring. I’m not “over” infertility. I can’t just go back to my life before the repeated disappointments, frustration, and heartache. As with my mother’s death, I realize there is no getting past this. Like natural disasters, these things happened to me, tore me apart, and I have no choice but to look at my life differently now.
It sounds cliched, but recovery is a long process. I’m now admitting to myself that it is taking a lot longer than I would like it to. Can’t I just skip over the hard part where I don’t cry everyday about how much I miss my mom, or wake up at 3:00 am convinced something is going to go wrong with my pregnancy? I want a goddamn easy button for this.
It isn’t that I don’t respect struggle. In a sense, human beings were born to struggle. It’s how we learn everything from walking to feeding ourselves to changing our tires. Who we are is forged, and that process can be hard and ugly and painful.
Maybe that’s what recovery looks like. It’s hard. It’s painful. And it can’t be easy.