Silver linings, greener grass and the fertility question no one wants to ask

Hi everybody!  Eric here again, and today I’d like to talk about the one great big horkin’ scary question that was always on our minds during IVF, the one that we never wanted to talk about.  It was like a whisper that we didn’t want to say aloud for fear that, like some ancient curse or forbidden word, giving it voice might make it come true.


The question is, “What if…?” 


What if what?


“What if treatment doesn’t work” of course. That’s what we couldn’t say but also couldn’t stop thinking about. 


“What if… <gulp> what if, despite all the best people and support and help and prayers and the miracles of medical science, what if our bodies just can’t make a family?  What will we do, how will we feel, how will we go on if it never, everworks?”


This fear and thought and line of questioning are completely understandable, entirely natural and, in many cases, will ultimately prove unnecessary as, by one means or another, many of you willmanage to have a family.


But as anyone who reads this blog knows, Cathy and I were not among those fortunate ones.  We actually are one of those cases where, despite all the time and heart and cost and effort and tears and science, it just was not to be. Put more ouch-ily, we are the couple you’re afraid could be you someday.  And I’m here to tell you something that may seem incomprehensible now, but I promise it’s true.


We wish the very best outcome for you, but if that were to not happen… you’re going to be OK. 


I won’t say it will be easy, and we still have some hard days. It’s taken some time to build this “other” life, but I want to give you hope that if your life does turn out the way ours has, it can still be a good life. In fact, it can be an outstanding, spectacular, amazing, joy-filled, gratitude-rich and adventurous existence.


I know this because that’s my life.


I still live in a wonderful home and a beautiful city in a country I love. I am gainfully employed in a job I enjoy with colleagues I respect. Most importantly, I have a wonderful marriage to an amazing woman, a relationship that was made stronger by the challenges and disappointments and fierce commitment to teamwork that infertility brought to our lives. 


Perhaps most importantly in this context, the proverbial silver lining really has turned out to exist in that dark cloud we lived under for so long.  This takes the form of the relative freedom in my daily life and my non-working time.


Perhaps more than anything else, this is actually the part of my life that many of my friends with children most envy.(TRIGGER ALERT: If you do happen to have a newborn or toddler, the rest of this post may trigger you! Read with caution if that is you.) If you haven’t already experienced this, I’m sure you will. When you’re struggling to get pregnant, sometimes people say things like “enjoy your free time now while you can.”  While this may seem cruel or insensitive, they don’t mean it that way – they are just expressing their reality, and it bears a listen.  For all that they have that you so deeply desire, rest assured that they see much to be valued, and missed, about child-free living.


To be clear, I never wanted to have quite this much free time in my life, but relative to my parenting friends, I do enjoy quite a bit of flexibility and freedom.  With some time and healing, I have learned to enjoy, value, and be grateful for that freedom.  Even if it’s not the lifestyle or family reality I would have chosen, it is something I have grown to appreciate and fully embrace.


Cathy and I go see live music, and eat in nice restaurants now and then, things that we have both the free time and the extra disposable income to do, resources that children quite often entirely consume. We live in a city that is rife with beautiful museums, open air concerts, outdoor movies and a host of other activities, many of them entirely free, and we try to take full advantage of it.  We spend time with friends and visit family and run and bike and sleep late once in a while. 


We can make spur of the moment decisions, travel on short notice, and visit places in the world that might never be possible for us in terms of time, money, mobility or safety that we could never consider if we had children with us.  On those travels, we enjoy activities that might not be open to us otherwise. And so, we have gone skydiving, bungee jumping, hiking, climbing, swimming, scuba diving, plus we go dancing and take classes and a host of other things that life with children might simply not allow due to the basic, brutal mathematics of the finite hours in a day. 


There’s an old saying that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, and when you’re trying to start a family, it can seem like there is literally nothing on the other side of the fence at all. 


As a resident of that far side of the fence, I can tell you that I hope you don’t join us here because that isn’t what youhope for.  But if it happens, just know that things can be fine over here, and if it comes to that, we’ll be here waiting with a cold lemonade and seat in the sunshine.  Either way, you’re going to be ok. 

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