Thursday, January 3, 2008

How do you let go of a dream?

My apologies for being a broken record. As the title suggests, I am still trying desperately to come to terms with our situation.

How do you let go of a dream? Often when I tell people that I am sad that I will never have my genetic child, they tell me that I can try again after this baby is born. I know they are trying to help. I know they want to believe in endless possibilities. I used to believe too - before reality kept knocking me down and proving to me that life is not endless possibilities. There are times when you simply will never have your dream. There are times when the only option remaining is to let that dream go.

I simply don't know how to do it. My usual resources - even the therapist whom I adore - can't seem to help me because they think I will be able to do at 41.5 what I couldn't do between 38.0 and 39.5. Even if the chance wasn't almost zero by that point, does it even make sense to risk $12,000 - $15,000 on a 5-10% chance of success when Belinda has offered to cycle again for an 80% chance (at about $25,000)?

It hurts when people tell me I could try again. They say that I will be less stressed or more fertile because I will have a child already. Will that have more of an impact than my rapidly declining fertility? Don't they remember how hopeful I was during many of our IVF cycles? I knew it would work, I did yoga and acupuncture and meditated and nothing, in the end, was enough. How is a child going to make that much difference? To me, those statements are just evidence that they don't really understand. It's another version of "take a vacation and you will get pregnant." How can they help me let go if they don't acknowledge that it is an issue?

Tonight my sister called to let me know a mutual acquaintance is pregnant after two years of trying. She never went to the doctor about fertility issues. I don't think she even temped or used OPK's. She did discover she was insulin resistant and changed her diet . . . then discovered she was pregnant. I think my sister thought I should be happy for her - and it's not that I wish her ill, but I certainly don't know her well enough to be happy for her. She got her dream and I didn't. She didn't really try and I did. She had an issue she could fix and we had issues we could do nothing about. She got pregnant by having sex with her husband for freaks sake! Oh my, we have so much in common.

In the past my sister would have never passed on this news. I preferred it that way. Now she, like so many others in my life, think that everything is ok because I am pregnant. But just because I am pregnant doesn't mean I have what I wanted. I hate to say it is a second choice - I would never want this child to think he was a second choice - but if it was my first choice I would have gone to donor eggs two years ago. I try to explain these feelings and once again they say, "you can try again with your eggs next time."

Only my RE and Brad seem to understand that dream is gone. When my RE said recently, "You need to let go of the dream. I know you hold on to your dreams very tightly, but you have to let this one go," I felt so validated. I felt understood. It felt so good, I forgot to ask the next question: "How?"

Do you know how to let go of a dream?

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am muddling, but here:

First, I think you need to make a distinction between you feelings for your child and your feelings about this whole process. I can say (I have gone through two failed DE cycles, after going through many failed cycles with my own material) that feeling that this process is plan B does not mean the potential child is a B child. In other words, I can freely say that I have a hierarchical list of ways I wanted to have a child, and that DE was not top of the list, but that does not mean that I will love the child less. So to begin I think you need to accept that this is a plan B for you, though that may not mean anything about the child.

Second, it seems pretty clear that you moved to DE rather faster than you were ready, and then you were successful first time. Ad so you are doing the "mourning bit," the angry and frustrated stages at the same time that you are pregnant and being told by everyone to be happy. Grrrrrr. This makes is more difficult to indulge yourself in a bit of necessary misery. And so you have to add a guilt bit. Complicated, not easy. I think you need to indulge your misery for a while, allow yourself to think about the fact that -- unlike what others around you are saying -- you most likely are not going to a have a genetic child. I think you will let go of your dream, but only if you face it and allow yourself a bit of wallowing. Your pregnancy is going to be about dealing with regret as well as (or even more than) thinking about the baby to come.

But again, that wallowing is only going to be "productive" if you can distinguish between your own regrets and the child. If you think you can, ignore the comments from the people around you ("be happy," "congratualations," etc) and try to think about what you cannot avoid thinking about, freely and with an end in sight.

Quite a lot of ass-vice here. Feel free to ignore.

Lori said...

More assvice, if you can stomach it.

Our adoption agency wanted us to fully process the grief of this type of loss before we were ready for Plan B (Mel had a great post over the summer about how last doesn't mean worst, in these cases).

They had us write a goodbye letter to the biological child we would never have.

Maybe this would trigger the healing that you and Brad are asking for. You could each write one and share them with each other.

Then burn and release (we didn't do this part at the agency!).

Hugs. This is hard.

Leah said...

No, I don't know how to let go of a dream. Plus, I couldn't possibly give better advice than the two ladies who posted before me. They have far more relevant experience regarding the actual letting go of the dream, so I won't insult any of you by pretending to offer advice on DE or adoption (or anything else resembling a 2nd choice).

On the other topic, I too get a lot of pressure to be cheery now that I'm pregnant. It's hard not to respond with, "bite me." A pregnancy doesn't magically wipe away the anguish, fatigue and rapid mental decline that goes along with IF and years upon years of treatments resulting in failed conceptions.

Lastly, please do not apologize for sounding like a broken record. If these are the thoughts in your head and your heart, I want to hear them. I do wish we lived closer together so that we could have coffee and exchange hugs whenever necessary. I'm not a super-girly chick who likes to go around hugging a lot, but I would love to be able to see you and give you a few.

stacyb said...

I like to think that dreams shift. Maybe that’s a form of letting go, not sure. Yes my husband and I had a dream of creating a family, we still do, it just didn’t work out in any way shape of form that we could ever have imagined back when we thought if you had sex you’d end up with a baby.

Going with DE while not a smooth, quick, anger or sad free transition was/is ultimately the same dream: that we would be parents to our child. For us it was letting the exact details of the “we want to be parents” dream go and focusing on the biggest part of the picture that helped. For me specifically it was acknowledging that I wanted the experience of raising a child with my husband to (hopefully) make a positive difference in the world and deciding that whether the child looked like me or had my specific genetic characteristics didn’t have to part of the equation to still be the same dream.

Someone once said to me “second best is better” meaning it’s not about everything going exactly the way you plan, rather it’s about seeing that it’s ok if things don’t because ultimately there isn’t a perfect…if that makes sense.

There is nothing broken record sounding about your post as leah so beautifully put it: if these are the thoughts and feelings in you head and your heart, I want to hear them. None of this is easy.

lifefromhere said...

I wish I knew the answer to this one. I'm asking myself the same question, so if you have any revelations, please share. My guess it will be some form of finding a way to come to peace in time. You know, no easy answer...

I also wanted to thank you for your comment on my blog. I suspected the 3dt could be an issue, in which case FETs won't work either. Since I'm almost 39 my guess is my eggs are dwindling in quality... sigh.

I hope you are able to find the peace you are searching for...

~luna

Kami said...

Thank you, everyone, for your comments.

Anonymous - I think separating the grief I feel for it not working out the way I wanted from the baby that I want to badly is a wonderful idea. I appreciate all your "assvice"

Lori - I remember you talking about the letter to your bio baby in Drama2BMama and I think that is a wonderful idea. I know I will be doing it and will invite Brad too.

Leah - Nice to know you feel similarly - that it isn't all gumdrops and roses.

Stacyb - thank you too. I do find that reminding me that it was a logical choice - that we needed to move on and it still makes sense - does help me feel better emotionally.

Ann said...

You've had some wonderful comments here. I, too, think that dreams shift. I would like to think that someday, when I'm looking back on my life, I will be able to say that, while some parts of my life sucked and some dreams were never realized, it ultimately all turned out pretty OK.

I don't think anyone will be able to look back on his or her life and say that all dreams were realized. How do you let go? Hmm, I guess maybe by dreaming even bigger. By looking at your baby and loving it and thanking God that circumstances created it.

Summer said...

When people say "let go" it implies a one step process. But I think it's a gradual process and the dream never really disappears. Maybe it fades, maybe it shifts and gets transformed. But, you never really forget it. That's why it's so hard. That's why not having a genetically related child is like grieving. It doesn't mean you can't love another child fully and completely, it just means you are incredibly sad and hurt that you didn't get the chance to love one that came from your egg.

Cindy Nguyen said...

Hi there,

I'm newer to your blog and I don't have much to add to the other posters comments.

I just wanted to let you know I stopped by and that you are in my thoughts.

Drowned Girl said...

I was nodding as I read the other comments.

You got pregnant before you had completed the process of accepting DE... the process is a form of grieving. Others need to acknowledge that. You need to have your feelings accepted.

I've posted this before I think:

http://www.4therapy.com/consumer/life_topics/item.php?seeresults=1&uniqueid=5902&categoryid=495&

Also found these:

http://members.tripod.com/~Diju/loss.html

http://www.tertia.org/so_close/2004/04/the_cycle_of_gr.html

I think the key points are that you are ALLOWED to grieve, that being pregnant doesn't negate that. You are ALLOWED to believe that the door is closed on your own bio child and do not need false hope.

I think the suggestion to work through some of this as you might do if preparing for adoption, would be a good idea. Maybe look out some resources used for that purpose?

xx

Anonymous said...

After many failed IVFs, both with my eggs and donor, I would give anything to be in your position. I hope gratitude finds you soon.

Frenchie said...

I don't want to give you any assvice. People say the same thing (or similar things) about adoption. "Once you adopt you'll get pregnant" "After you have a baby, you'll be more relaxed and you'll be able to get pregnant" and many more...Also, people assume that now that I have a baby, my grief over infertility is over, and that I am happy to hear about EVERYONE'S pregnancy and baby news.

However, all this said, I want you to know, that my child is not second best, or plan B. The way we got to him was not our first choice, sure. Let's just say it how it is, right? But now that he's here, I wouldn't want to live in a world without him. Now that he is here, my infertility and never having a biological child is not the worst thing I can imagine. The worst thing I can imagine, or the worst thing that could ever happen to me, would be if (God FORBID) anything ever happened to my child. Infertility still sucks, but it's not the devil it once was. Does that make sense?

Also, in one of my books on adoption that I was skimming through the other day, I found this poem. It made me cry, but it was helpful. I don't want to upset you in any way, but if it has a resonance with you, then I hope it is worth sharing:

Burial

Today I closed the door of the nursery/ I have kept for you in my heart.

I can no longer stand in its doorway.

I have waited for you there so long.

I cannot forever live on the periphery/ of the dream world we share, and you/ cannot enter my world.

I have fought to bring you across the/ threshold of conception and birth.

I have fought time, doctors, devils, and/ God Almighty.

I am weary and there is no victory.

Other children may someday live in my/ heart but never in your place.

I can never hold you. I can never really/ let you go. But I must go on.

The unborn are forever trapped within the/ living but it is unseemly for the/ living to be trapped forever by the/ unborn.

E. Van Clef

niobe said...

My view -- and maybe this applies mostly to me -- is that there are some dreams don't vanish. I mean, I realize that my twins are gone forever, but I don't think I'll ever stop thinking "if only" and "what if."

I've accepted the fact that I'll probably never truly get over it and that it will always be a source of sadness for me. And realizing that I have a right to feel sad about it makes me feel better about myself for not being able to move on more quickly.

KarenO said...

Don't let go of your dream. Just put it aside for a while so it won't hurt you so much. In a few months you can take it out and hug it to your heart again. Then decide what you want to do with it. Never let anyone tell you that you have to let go of it. You will know if/when you want to. If that time never comes, then it's ok too. :)

Rachel said...

I can only answer for myself, but I have had to let go of dreams. In some cases, they came back to haunt me and I realized that I never should have let them go (singing, in my case.) When I made the move to let that dream back in, to give it some room to breathe after I'd kept it well squashed for many years... it was initially very painful. Recently, when I've moved in directions I never thought possible with singing, it brought up whole new waves of pain. But... I got over that pain, and I no longer regret. It's just what it is, and I'm making the best of it. I'm not sure if that's entirely translatable to infertility, but there might be something there. I'm not sure a dream must be let go of either. Because as a few others here have said... they sometimes come back in ways that you wouldn't expect. Or they'll change, or you'll change. So... just let yourself feel whatever it is you feel, and have no expectations regarding the process, I guess.

The other thing I wanted to say is that with the things that have hurt me most in life, I've learned to make those a gift of compassion that I give others. It only takes a certain look in the eye, or a tone or a word... but I can often sense when others have been through some of the things I've been through. So I take what happened to me, and I make a gift of understanding, compassion and kindness. It makes me feel better. By being that person who 'gets it', who understands that other person's pain and darkness, the weight of tragedy feels lighter and lighter upon my soul.

Freyja said...

I do not know how to let go of a dream - especially not one so deeply rooted and significant. I don't have a lot of advice there. I can express sincere empathy for how annoying it must be to have people around you:
a.) erroneously believe you now have the dream
b.) foist unsolicited stories of others' pregnancies upon you
c.) ignore the basic facts of reproductive biology

Last week an employee told me his wife is pregnant. He knows of my situation. He told me that he understands that hearing his news (and seeing the u/s pic!!!) may be "bitter sweet" for me because of my issues. All I could think about is where is the "sweet" part. I told him I'm learning to cope better these days and Congrats! He replied that his wife is a bit older than me so maybe that is the difference. He actually implied that being older is going to enhance my fertility. If he can live in that delusion then it does not surprise me that the people around you can live in the delusion that you're likely to conceive naturally in your 40s. :-P

Anonymous said...

I think shifting the words we think/say can make a huge difference in our joy level. Obviously "letting go of a dream" is just too darn painful to say right now, especially in our culture where most people want to believe their own dreams and end up projecting this on you with so-called comforts like "You should never let go of your dream!" as if that will make you feel better. It doesn't. It makes you feel worse.

I think you need to somehow ritualistically (I write myself letters) give yourself permission perhapts not so much to "let go" as to "keep moving on" or whatever words you can truly believe and accept for youself right now.

Maybe there's an easier way to think about it, a way that allows you to mourn AND move on, at the same time. Maybe "I'm embracing a new chapter of my life." or "I'm accepting my NOW. I don't have to complete this idea I had when I was younger because I was too inexperienced when I had that idea - I didn't know what might come up by this time."

What I'm trying to emphasize is that "Let go" leaves you empty-handed, with nothing. But "Embrace..." "Accept..." "Begin anew..." offer a gentler, softer, sweeter way to talk to yourself about it. You deserve to be that kind with yourself now. You do.

Kami said...

Anonymous (most recent one) - that is a great way of looking at things.

I am doing quite well now . . . having 'embraced' my new life with our daughters. In a way, the letting go and moving on happened on it's own. I was too committed to being a good mom not to embrace it. Too bad I didn't (couldn't?) see it this way before LB was born.

I will remember your words for future challenges.

Anonymous said...

Its hard I think. I had a dream but same as you I would not be able to do it. Its just hard I think but what I feel is only if I let it go will I find new dreams to believe in. Maybe maybe not. I am not sure but I sure as hell want to try. All I can say is I understand you situation. I am in that situation myself.

Anonymous said...

There are two clear signs that it is time to let go of a dream:

1. you have done everything in your power to achieve the desired outcome, but it has not happened.

2. the pain of continuing is stronger than your fear of the unknown.

When both of these signs appear, you are being directed away from your dream - and onto something else.

The thing is, most people refuse to accept that; instead, they get angry and stay stuck. But, in reality, once you realize that 1 and 2 have occurred, just ask yourself (or whatever concept of God you believe in), "OK, I give up. What's next for me?"

You really WILL be lead in the right direction.