So, let's try this again.
Many years ago, I read Aesop's fable about the fox and the grapes. It's a short fable with a powerful message:
ONE hot summer’s day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained over a lofty branch. “Just the things to quench my thirst,” quoth he. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success. Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: “I am sure they are sour.”The lesson, though simple, is a powerful one. And one that anyone traveling the road of infertility and loss can easily relate to. The issue becomes what happens to those who try using treatment for resolving their infertility and fail? We're most certainly a minority within a minority. What does life look like for us, the ones who are unable to reach the grapes?
The past few months, this is a reality I've been struggling with. I'll be honest, it would be easy to fall on the end of bitterness and despair because of all Grey and I have lost. Yet, I'm tired of living my life this way, tired feeling sadness while watching friends and loved ones move on to embrace their children and live the next chapter of their lives. I'm also tired of being pitied; being seen as that sad case that everyone feels obliged to reach out to but secretly is thankful to not be. So, in addition to healing and planning for the future, I've also been trying to find a way to turn these sour grapes into sweet ones. To make these lost years ones that are actually the foundation for my family's future. Hence, I've been looking for examples, hoping to find beacons in the darkness.
Yesterday the Bitter Infertiles recorded another podcast, during which I had the opportunity to 'meet' Lori Lavendar Luz. I love Lori, not only for her honesty and story, but also for her way of looking at the world. During the conversation, she mentioned a book called "Sweet Grapes" by Jean and Michael Carter. I won't give away the rest of the interview (btw: we're now on iTunes. Go subscribe!!), but what I will say is that I immediately marched myself down to the local bookstore to find a copy after we had finished.
Currently I'm only a few pages into this book, but the message is already a clear and powerful one: having treatment fail does not relegate one to an empty, bitter life. Yes, the pain from infertility and loss will always be with you. Those memories will be hard to surpress. But, there are gains to be had from this journey. The gain of building a stronger relationship with your partner. The gain of learning you have are stronger than you ever gave yourself credit for. The gain of learning how to put yourself first in your endeavors. The gain of having the courage to pursue your dreams. The gain of choosing to live a fertile life. A gain so few in this world actually have the courage to do.
I'd be lying if I said that the past couple of years have been easy. And I'd be an even bigger lier if I told you that I'd chose to travel this road again. But, one of the things both Grey and I are finding is that there have been some amazing things that have happened because we are infertile. We've both met and bonded with some amazing people. We've learned also how to steer clear of those who will suck us dry emotionally. Our marriage is stronger than it's ever been. And I no longer worry about failure.
In short, we're learning to turn the sour of failure into something sweet.
As Mo pointed out, I do have some guilt about feeling this way. For too long, I've walked the path of bitterness and pain because of infertility, so feeling at peace makes me question whether I really deserve children. Thankfully I have this community to smack some sense into me. Still, there's something to be said about finally finding some peace. To actually be in control over my life instead of living as a victim.