rough patch

Yesterday we made the mistake of doing something that I usually enjoy.

I thought it would be fun to head to our local pumpkin patch to pick the perfect pumpkins. Just a few miles from here is a real country patch, a crop field covered in hay, corn, and pumpkins of every shape and size, complete with wheelbarrows, hayrides, and barbecue. You know, kid heaven.

We expected a ton of children there, though we always have fun doing our own thing. We pick our favorites, however imperfect they may be, and take pride in our artful yet scary carvings. I love to see the bright orange gourd I leave uncut to guard the house through the season, until it rots and must be chucked.

Decorating pumpkins and Halloween brings me back to my childhood — from the smell of fall leaves, to choosing my pumpkin and painting (later carving) it however I imagined, to scary haunted houses, dressing up in fun costumes, the fascination with all things dark and dreary (and black), gallivanting in the neighborhood after dark with friends, and of course, all that candy. And it all begins with that first pumpkin. 

Yesterday, though, was different. There was no wistful nostalgia. Only the blatant sad fact that as we walked through that patch, we were the only childless couple there. Of course young families with children were everywhere, little kids excitedly romping through the field, parents shooting photos of babies’ first pumpkin patch. It was all a bit too much. 

I had even brought my camera in case I felt inspired to take some fall harvest shots, but I left it in the car. I joked with M that we could still break it out and shoot some pix of him pointing to his favorite pumpkin, or me in the wheelbarrow, or him on a haystack. It was good for a chuckle. 

Yet underneath our brief laughter there was a deep sadness. He felt it too. “I don’t know why I feel this way here,” he said, wondering why here, why now? It wasn’t the first time we’ve stood out as the only childless couple in the room. The longing was palpable for both of us. 

We walked through the patch, watching children play and giggle and babies with new legs romp through the field. We watched dads lift their kids up and into wheelbarrows for rides. We watched moms take pictures of their gorgeous families. We watched and we wondered. Would that ever be us?

At times like this, it’s really hard to imagine that we will ever have a child. One moment I think, of course we will, some day. It could be a year or more, and that thought is really hard. But then I realize it could be longer. It could be never. There is no guarantee we will ever get “picked.” We might not. We could end up like one of those bruised or mis-shapen pumpkins that no one chooses, the ones that get plowed under at the end of the season. There is just no way to know.

This would be a good time to say, please, no telling me that of course we’ll get picked and what great parents will be. Or it’s not a matter of “if” but “when.” Yesterday was just the kind of day where none of that mattered. Nothing could convince our hearts that that day would ever come. 

A series of images, glimpses into a life unlived, gripped me and wouldn’t let go. I saw M walking with a child on his shoulders, his eyes and face beaming with love as he gently sits him down into a wheelbarrow, laughing. I saw me holding an infant, our child, with the warm sun on my joyful face as we meander through the patch with the other families. I saw our son, who would have been almost 2.5 years old by now, running through that field and pointing to a little pumpkin of his own…

I think I longed for all of our children in that moment — the son who was taken from us, the children we will never have, and also that mythical child who may one day find his/her way to us through adoption. Each one of those aches its own unique pull. 

As I walked back through that patch, I realized that something I normally enjoy had been tainted by our sorrow, swallowed by the gaping hole in our lives. Looking at all those happy families, all I could think was that should be us, too. Why isn’t that us? Will that ever be us? That may never be us. It was all just too much. 

As we made our way out, a few friends spotted us and came over to say hello. They were with a big group with new babies and toddlers. I was caught off guard, a little out of my head, and feeling a bit overwhelmed. I was meeting one couple and their 10 month old for the first time, an adorable happy little boy. It was all I could do to keep focused on this woman’s eyes as she nursed her son just inches from my face. 

At one point she asked if I wanted to hold him. “No, that’s okay, thanks,” I replied, but she seemed a bit surprised. “No?” she asked, smiling. “No, thanks, we’ve got to get going,” I explained, searching for M’s attention. “He’s very sweet.” I tried to be kind and gentle. She’s a new friend after all, and we really don’t have that many good friends left, to be honest. But I had to say no. M seemed a bit surprised too, when I told him later. But I was about to fall apart at the seams and simply couldn’t bear it.

The rest of the day was tough. I was weepy, carrying my heavy heart. On top of that, M and I argued about our frustrations. Today is a new day, but I’m still feeling a bit overwhelmed. Just going through a rough patch I guess.


~ by luna on October 13, 2008.

43 Responses to “rough patch”

  1. Even though I was one of those at the pumpkin patch this weekend, for the first time ever with a child, what you wrote and described cuts straight into the deepest crevice of my soul. That ache is so real, as you describe it. So are the doubts and fears, and even the abyss we sometimes teeter on the brink of.

    I wouldn’t have held that baby either. I have been holding back sharing photos and meetups with friends who are still waiting for their precious child to come to them through adoption, thinking it must be painful for them to see us now. For one friend, it is when we are at a large gathering of adoptive families, but she is okay when its just us and her and Lil Pumpkin. For another friend, it is reaffirming to her that she WILL be a parent someday.

    I think both of them are better women than me, as I retreated further and further, and became more angry, and acted out, with each day that we grieved or waited.

    I am sorry what should have been a refrshing, invigorating, fall ritual was not so for you and hubby. You deserve so much, and more.

  2. I wouldn’t have held the baby either. It’s so hard sometimes. I wish I could guarantee that it would be you, but I can’t. I can say that you deserve children, yours, those that will be yours via adoption and others.

    Hang in!

  3. Ugh. This is the first in probably more than 8 years that I purposely didn’t go to our favorite pumpkin farm. I just couldn’t do it this year and it not only made me feel sad, but it also made me feel weak. I hate that I can’t do it anymore and hate even more that we got our pumpkins from WalMart instead.
    I feel your pain.

  4. The not knowing is so hard.

    Hang in there.

  5. Ugh, I am sorry. There are so many reminders, and the combination of loss and waiting is not a good one.

    We have a share in a local farm, and each time I go to pick up our share, I find myself surrounded by SAHMs and their children. Frankly, it has gotten to be too much for me. CSA is something which is extremely aligned with my values, I am not sure that I can continue to subject myself to it anymore.

    Hope that tomorrow is a better day.

  6. I think those times–the deepest emotions–hit us out of nowhere. And you may never look at a pumpkin patch the same way again. Though I hope one day you have different memories that lay over this one.

  7. I’m sorry. I know there’s nothing in the world that will make this better, but I’m sorry. I’ve been in that horrible place, full of shiny happy families, and there is nothing worse. Hugs.

  8. First, I love the title of this post.

    I think that where you are right now is a sacred space. You are in the not knowing, the maybe, the when, the possibly never. In this space, “there is just no way to know.”

    In hindsight, I see this space (mine, and others who have gone through the Dark Night of the Soul), as crucial to the process. Not that we NEED any more fire-walking to test us, of course, but as this chance to make peace with the uncertainty.

    Trust the process. And be supported by your friends when it’s just too much to bear.


  9. That funk can sneak up on ya. One day you think, “I’m ok, I can do this. I am content if not happy”. And then when you don’t expect it you feel the loss, uncertainly, envy.

  10. Yeah, I feel that way all of the time. In fact, I find myself avoiding things that seem like they would be fun because I suspect a lot of children and families will be there — festivals and fairs just aren’t fun anymore.

    The unfairness of infertility is so overwhelming. Of course we are going to feel this way some days.

    Your pumpkins are beautiful, by the way.

  11. wow, and yesterday i was having a good day. unbeleivable how this heartache and yearning has us – at it’s total whim. here’s hoping that a ‘hopeful’ day will find it’s way to you soon. i really feel your sentiment when speaking about your husband. there is nothing more that my husband wants than to be a dad. and you know what? he absolutely deserves to be. i think that’s another thing that makes this so tough, when we think of the fathers our husbands would make.
    but you know, if we are still moving forward it’s because we beleive that somehow our luck will change. and because somehow, in that far off murky place we call the future, our child waits.

  12. My employee’s wife brought their new baby in back in August when she was only a week old. She tried to get me to hold her but I wasn’t having any of it. Another coworker was standing in the doorway next to me and declined as well. From the look on her face, I think it was probably the first time the new mom had had someone decline. But amazingly, there were two of us that BOTH did it so I didn’t come off as too rude.

  13. I’m with you… went to a fair this weekend… carriages, families, fathers, happy children laughing, moms with beaming smiles… and me… wanting to die.

    It’s all just too much, and I fear there is no end in sight (at least for me).

    I am sorry to read of the loss of your child. My EDD is coming up in November, and I expect the day to be devastating.

    Wish it were easier, but it’s not. Know that I am here, reading every word.


  14. I absolutely relate to this post. I was absolutely convinced that we would be THE couple – the only one in the history of the agency – that would NEVER be matched. Would NEVER become parents. We would be the ones. I could never convince myself – really, truly – that we would have a child. I had lost my ability to be hopeful. There were days that were worse than others, days like your pumpkin patch, but even on the good days, I still couldn’t allow myself to truly believe.

    Good for you for not holding the child in that moment; for watching out for yourself.

  15. This post is beautiful and perfectly encompasses infertility at its most painful…what it takes away from us, the heartache we carry around. I completely read myself in every word you have written. It makes me that much angrier how long and convoluted the adoption process can be. All of these wonderful people and waiting families should not be kept waiting a single second longer.

  16. This was such a moving post. Thank you. My husband and I are just starting the adoption process after two years of trying, this post speaks volumes.

  17. Wow, you and I really are on the same wavelength today. Except that I was alone at an empty patch — the scene you describe would have been WAY too much for me, as I know it was for you too.

    I was talking to my acupuncturist today about his weekend apple-picking excursion with his young kids. He said there were literally thousands of people (all families, I’d guess). Out of curiosity, since I’ve never seen an apple-picking farm around here, I asked him where he went. He started giving me directions. I didn’t actually need to know, since there is no way I will be going there for a couple of years at least. I look forward to the day when I can ask him, “Hey, so where was that apple orchard you mentioned a couple of years ago? I’d like to bring the family.”

    The other thing your post makes me think about is that there is no “safe” time of year. Winter? Sledding, Santa, snowball fights. Spring? Easter egg hunts. Summer? Family vacations, BBQs, fireworks…

    For someone who likes kids as much as I do, it’s remarkable how much of the time I can’t stand to be around them.

    I hear ya, sister.

  18. You made a mistake? Having an open heart? No, no, no, that’s the first step to being a parent. Because when you do have kids, your heart will break open again and again. Not just from sorrow, but from joy. It’s what makes you human. It’s what connects us all. It will happen for you. I know it.

  19. Oh, I understand. Until moments/days like this are a distant memory layered over with a new joy, this is bound to make your heart ache. Mine aches with you . . . wishing with all my might that YOUR joy is right around the corner.

    You deserve your own baby to hold, not just a bittersweet moment with someone else’s.


  20. Isn’t it sad how much joy infertility can suck out of our lives? Gah. I don’t even remember the last time we tried going to a pumpkin patch — probably because our last experience was something like what you wrote about here. There is one right down the street but I’m somehow not even tempted. I know what waits for me there and I can’t do it.

    Sending you hugs and peaceful wishes. Bad days come and go. Know that I’m thinking of you.

  21. “We could end up like one of those bruised or mis-shapen pumpkins that no one chooses, the ones that get plowed under at the end of the season. There is just no way to know.”

    This is just so sad and lovely. And sad. Did I mention sad?

    As much as I’m not going to tell you “it will happen,” I’m also not going to tell you “it gets easier.” Because having taken my own living breathing daughter to a pumpkin patch recently and averted MY eyes while people were running around getting that perfect photo, this all sounds eerily familiar. I’m coming to the sinking conclusion that there will always be an imaginary divide between us and the rest who offer up their children like a glass of water — not knowing quite how thirsty we really are and that a sip just won’t cut it.

    Thinking of you Luna. And waiting. Right here.

  22. Those are just the absolute worst aren’t they, the things that used to be good and fun and full of potential for future memories, and now instead are just hard and sad and frustrating. F*.

  23. I’m sending you much, much love as you wait. You know we’ve chosen you, thanks to the perfect prose pumpkins like the one above.

    If I ever, ever nurse in public right near a visibly upset friend’s face, please take me out past the haybales and shoot me.

  24. Wow… as I read this, I felt like I was right there in the pumpkin patch with you. Wish we could at least be enjoying some mugs of hot (spiked!) apple cider.

    I face this often, as my favorite things to do have always been “daytime” sorta g-rated activities. I’m not big on bars, etc — give me a dinosaur exhibit or corn maze any day! And one of my favorite restaurants in NYC is the one that serves only peanut butter sandwiches. Of course, it used to be nice to fantasize about enjoying these things with kids, but now it’s painful as hell sometimes. Even a trip out for brunch can be wrought with peril… as it seems people with babies LOVE going out for brunch and waving their kids around in this town.

    Wish I knew what helps this — but just wanted you to know you’re not alone. It’s very painful. But remember, you’re on the right path… hang in there.

  25. Oh, this post makes my heart hurt. I don’t blame you for not holding the baby; I wouldn’t have been able to, either.
    Sending you support and encouragement!

  26. I felt it all with you. You have an amazing talent with words, Luna. I don’t know what to offer except that it sucks that a joyful outing can become so painful. I am a better, more understanding, more insightful person because you share your thoughts and your pain. Hugs.

  27. I hear you girl. Sometimes you just have to respect how you feel, no matter how unwanted it is, and gut it out. Every year we get invited to our friends for pumpkin carving and every year, we say no, just too many parents with kids, too many questions, and nothing to say.

  28. This is such an eloquent and moving post, Luna. Reading it, my heart just ached with you and for you. It is amazing how the most innocent of outings can remind us so forcefully of what we do not have.

    Please know that, along with so many others, I am waiting and hoping – and sometimes simply abiding – with you.

    And I couldn’t have held that baby either…

  29. Oh, sweet Luna. I am listening, and I understand. May you be granted peace even amidst the uncertainty.

  30. Moments like that, when you expect to have a good time but get slammed with the emotions surrounding IF, can be devastating. {{{Hugs}}} and prayers for peace of mind.

  31. incoming link:

  32. I could have written this post, except you wrote it much more eloquently than I ever could. I just stumbled here through stirrup queens, but I felt compelled to comment that sadly you are not alone in these feelings. Any of them.

  33. Oh wow, you said it all, & so beautifully too. Dh & I carve a jack o’lantern every year, but we always just buy ours at the fruit market. Part of me would love to visit a pumpkin patch (there were no such things when I was growing up), & I know there is nothing stopping us from going… except the anticipation of a scenario exactly like the one you described. The loss of all these holiday traditions, old & still to be created, is part of the hole that infertility & pg loss leaves in our lives. : (

  34. incoming link:

  35. Thank you so much for writing this. It is exactly how I feel. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone. Some days, going to the grocery store is trouble. I realized lately that I’ve started avoiding looking at other people. Too many cute babies and kids in the carts in the afternoons. If I keep going like this, I’ll be a hermit who yells at kids who cross through the yard. SUch a terrible thing, infertility. It infests you, bit by bit, until it takes over.

  36. Wow your post hits deep in my soul.
    I know two weeks ago a similar experience happend.
    I was at a fall gathering of friends that I had not seen in a long time. None of them had children before. I get there and three of them are pregnant. That is all they talked about the whole time. I wanted to run and hide. It hurt so much..I went home and cried..I want to be so much of the mom club yet us infertiles are not given that opportunity! For me I was not expecting it, so it hurt even more

  37. This is a really beautiful post, it has me in tears. I can relate so much, every year is another year where we are the only childless couple at the park/fair/farm. Thanks for sharing this.

    Betsy, here from Creme de la Creme

  38. Beautiful post. The kind that takes your breath away and brings a tear to your eye. We have all been here – the moment where your infertility is like a punch in the gut that doubles you over and blindsides you. It is the worst feeling. I wrote 2 similar posts along these lines – one is my Creme post actually. Wishing that the family you dream of is your reality…

  39. Via la Creme…

    You wrote a beautiful post. I could relate to being in so many similar situations where it’s almost like I’m hovering above myself wondering, Will there ever be more? After a while, it seems almost every Big Situation gets tainted, colored by the fact that things just aren’t as they should be. Thank you for sucha thoughtful post.

  40. […] Naturally there were a ton of children there. Everywhere you turned there were little ones running, playing and dancing, babies being bounced, multi-kid families and parents mingling. It is exactly the kind of scene I would’ve wanted to avoid a year ago. Or I’d go to see our family, but I’d feel dread inside and be tremendously depressed (as I was here or here). […]

  41. […] adoption outreach when I had a major setback one fall Sunday afternoon. We had gone to our local pumpkin patch for some harvest fun, yet it was anything but. The experience left me weepy and raw. I was depressed […]

  42. […] Though I haven’t written as much since then, I’ve posted updates about our beautiful girl on occasion (at 3 weeks, at 50 days, at 100 days, and at 6 months). We welcomed Baby J to our family with a beautiful celebration in August. We’ve continued to reach out to members of her birth family, even when it has been challenging. And we (finally) enjoyed our first visit to our local pumpkin patch, which was so unlike our visit last year. […]

  43. […] Two years ago, M and I had just begun our wait to adopt and were feeling rather hopeful, when an afternoon at the pumpkin patch made me question whether we would ever become parents. […]

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