Saturday, February 23, 2019
At the Intersection of Joy and Sorrow
This weekend I attended the baby shower of a dear friend of mine. After struggling with infertility for many years she had been through it all- own egg IVF, donor egg IVF, multiple miscarriages, and finally donor embryo. This baby represented years of hoping and striving, so I was determined to be there, even though it was 85 miles away. It was a long journey that took me far from home but when I finally arrived, I realized that I had ended up right back in a familiar and frequently visited place. The intersection between joy and sorrow.
Deep emotions tend to inhabit the same spaces in our hearts and this is true for joy and sorrow. I'm surprised at how often it catches me off guard though. I was truly and sincerely happy for my friend. My heart had ached for her during her struggles and loss, and this baby was a hard won blessing- a true and miraculous gift!! Her baby was not only a wondrous gift for her, also a beacon of hope for me in the darkness of infertility. But that same baby who stirred up feelings of joy and excitement in me also triggered feelings of pain and loss. Watching my friend open baby clothes reminded me of the newborn clothes sitting untouched in my home- clothes I had lovingly purchased when I heard my second baby's heartbeat. Seeing those clothes reminded me of that baby I had lost, and the ones after. Seeing her round belly made me painfully aware of my empty one. I went to the bathroom. I cried. In the midst of all that excitement and beauty, pain had snuck up on me and made it's voice heard.
The unexpected intersection of these two seemingly opposite feelings- joy and sorrow- often happens for me now The joy of a positive pregnancy test is immediately followed by the pain of knowing it will likely be unsuccessful given my age and chromosomal condition. My son's birthday fills me with delight which is followed quickly by sorrow of knowing that he is getting older and I haven't given him a sibling yet. The joy I feel as I imagine giving birth to a donor egg child is met with the grief of my lost biology and all my years of failure.
In these moments I find myself at a crossroads, and I know need to make a choice. This odd intersection where my emotions collide is just a place to pass through, not a place to stay. In one direction I see joy stretched out before me. In the other direction I see the path of pain, sorrow, loss, and grief. I know that I can't move in both directions at once. I have to choose, and for the sake of my future child, I know that I need to move towards joy. So I take the time I need at the crossroads to fully feel my pain, and to honor it in my life. Then I pick my head up wipe my tears, take a step in the direction of joy, and start walking.