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Kim is a wife and mother of two beautiful boys she and her husband were blessed with through the gift of adoption. Her family is her world. She is energetic and full of love for everyone she comes into contact with. Having fun and enjoying life is her priority: she loves to laugh, sing, dance, run, and make every day a family fun day. She believes that through being vulnerable and through honestly sharing, you can help others. Which brings her to discussing how she discovered the steps to grieve infertility with us today.
As a little girl, I always knew I wanted to be a parent. I’ve always loved being around kids. I was “hired” to babysit my little sister and cousins, and it really became more of a paid play date than anything.
So when we got married, I was ready. I couldn’t wait to become a parent and bring life into this world. After a year, then two… then years of infertility treatments, we realized that things weren’t quite looking like we had envisioned them. I was devastated. I felt like a failure as a woman, wife, daughter, sister, aunt…. I felt like I was being punished. Really, you name it, I felt it.
In the midst of all the feelings, my husband and I defined what being a parent looked like. We both believed in caring, nurturing, unconditional love. We wanted a child to love. To care for. To raise in a loving and supportive environment. They didn’t need to share our DNA or our looks. Infertility changed our marriage.
I’d love to say that that was it – and then we decided to adopt. But, there were a lot of feelings that we got to navigate through before we were truly ready to open our hearts to adoption. Here are 3 essential steps to grieve infertility that I learned along the way:
3 Essential Steps to Grieve Infertility
- Allow yourself to feel the feelings
I tend to be a stuffer. And by stuffer, I mean I start to feel a feeling and then I put that feeling into a little box, stuff it into my bag and move on. Well, after a while, all those boxes add up and the bag got pretty darn heavy. I kept my feelings boxed up and in that bag for far too long thinking that if I didn’t feel them they would go away. Really, it just caused me to feel weighed down, burdened, and angry at all of the weight. I heard in a training once that pain is the only way for the hurt to leave your body. It’s going to hurt, but it’s not going anywhere until you feel it and allow it to leave.
- Open yourself up for support
I told myself a story that nobody knew what I was going through. Everyone I knew either had kids or didn’t want kids yet. The people I knew that had gone through fertility treatments were successful in their journey, so I crossed them off the list. And to top it off, my husband was a man. Yes, shocking, I know. But as a man, I didn’t think he could understand either. *Insert buzzer sound* It gets pretty lonely and it’s a lot of work carrying that giant bag of boxed up feelings all by yourself.
Trust me. Let people in. Allow people to be listeners, shoulders to cry on. It’s OK if they’ve never been in your exact circumstances! Your loved ones want to be there for you, let them in. It took me a long time, but I finally realized that I was on the brink of explosion and asked my husband for support. I needed to share my feelings, validate them out loud. I needed to vocalize how I was scared to move on to adoption because I didn’t know anything about it! I also got to communicate that even though I was shutting him out, I needed him more than ever.
- Give yourself time
Seriously. I can’t tell you how much time you need. But, you need to grieve. And you get to allow yourself to do it. Be patient with yourself and allow it to happen, but do not rush it. There will be good days and there will be bad days. Pretty soon there will be more good days than bad days. Those scattered bad days seem to be worse than you remember, because you start to forget how bad it hurts. Eventually, you’ll have some peace; acceptance.
It took my husband and I almost a year to go from saying “we think we are going to adopt” to actually walking through the doors of our adoption agency. During that time, I slowly allowed myself to feel my feelings and work through them. I didn’t know then that I had to give myself time – I know that now. And looking back (years later) I’m able to see that I kept my feelings boxed up and in that bag for far too long. Allow yourself to work through these steps to grieve infertility, no matter what it is you may be going through or grieving. For me, however, this particular grieving process was all part of the beautiful journey that created the family that we are today, and I wouldn’t change that for anything.