the passage of time

Throughout my struggle with infertility, time was not my friend.

First there was the tick-tock of my own clock, which grew louder and more frenzied with each passing month and year. There I was, hurtling past 30 and 35 and fast towards 40 with my chances dwindling away to zero, dreading each birthday as they came and went.

Then there was living in two week increments, putting the rest of my life on hold for the most part, slaving to my cycle. Forgoing spontaneity for carefully timed monotony. Month after month. Year after year. Exhausting. Frustrating. Invasive. Futile.

Then there were all of our friends and family planning their own families. Perfectly timed, with no effort whatsoever, pregnant the first or second month of “trying,” or not even trying at all. So many babies — nine in my family alone during the years we tried; countless others among our friends. From the never-ending pregnancy announcements and bumps to growing bellies, baby showers and hospital visits — these were all markers of time that served as glaring reminders not just that (another) nine months had passed, but that everyone else could build their families so easily while we toiled away with nothing to show but heartache. Nearly seven years. Prime years of our lives.

Children’s birthdays year in and year out also highlighted the inevitable passage of time. Another year come and gone. Yet while these other families could mark the year by the growth and exciting developments of their kids — i.e., this one is now walking, that one is in school, oh, they’re getting so big! — for me, reflecting on the year was largely to feel one loss after another. This was time I could never recover, time that brought me even further from my goal of becoming a mother. That was not something to celebrate but something to mourn, something to learn to accept.

Then of course there are the children who were conceived around the time of our son who died. Through them I can imagine what our child might have been doing, how big he might have been. These were his playmates. His cousins. The shadow children.

After our son died, I found an online support board of women who had suffered late-term losses. Eventually most all went on to conceive another child or several, many very quickly. As those women moved on to expecting and then parenting boards, I was one of last ones left. It was depressing marking the passage of time that way, feeling hopeless (and old) while another grieving mom was finding her joy and posting her birth story and I was still counting cycle days for nothing. Meanwhile, new mourners found their way to my old board. Most were just passing through on their way to another pregnancy. When the BFPs became tedious and I could no longer offer support, I knew it was time to move on. I had become an unfortunate ‘old-timer’ with an unhappy ending. I got tired of repeating my story over and over, and I hated feeling pitied. And I fucking despised “baby dust.” (Thank goodness for the blogosphere.)

My point is that I realize that marking the passage of time through someone else’s children when you so desperately want your own really truly sucks.

With adoption, time passes differently. There is no set timeline, there are no guarantees, the decision is not entirely your own as to whether or not you will bring home a child. Everything is tentative. You can’t plan anything, or at least I couldn’t. I was terrified that The Wait would be interminable. I was afraid that I would lose it or we would run out of money before we found the right match. But we got lucky. For once, we had synergy. And once we met our match, I learned to live in the moment and with the uncertainty and lack of control that is inherent in open adoption. I embraced the time we had to get to know K before Baby J was born.

Now that I’ve had the chance to witness the growth of our daughter over the past ten and a half months, time has taken on a whole new meaning. Each day there is something new to discover, some change or development that reminds me how fast she is growing. I can see the changes day to day, week to week, month to month. She really does look more and more like a little person and less like a baby every day.

There are days when I want to go backwards and remember with certain clarity what it was like to hold her in my arms as a brand newborn. Was she really that small and weightless, so tiny? Sure, I savored those moments as they happened, and I cherish them now. But I am also nostalgic for them in a way that hurts a little.

At the same time, there are moments when I get so excited that Baby J is just on the verge of some new development, like walking, and I can hardly wait for that. I am so curious to see her personality continue to reveal itself. How I want to hear what her words will sound like. Or share some new discovery with her. But then I remember how fast time is flying — as everyone said it would — and I don’t want it to go any faster. I want to hold on tight and slow it down to savor every moment. Even the tough ones.

I’m reminded of something someone said while we were waiting for Baby J to be born. When you hold something so precious in the palm of your hand, you can only marvel and awe at its beauty but you can’t clench too tightly or you could distort it, maybe even destroy it. If you grasp too hard, it might just slip right through your fingers.

And that’s what it’s about, the here and now. But that’s a lot easier for me to say now than it was a year or two ago. Now that she is here, sharing time with me.

For those of you who are still waiting for your child to come, through whatever means, my heart is with you. I hope seeing and hearing about my child causes you no further pain. I’ve been there. I know. I remember, too well. Meanwhile, may you find wonderful ways to pass the time.

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~ by luna on April 12, 2010.

12 Responses to “the passage of time”

  1. This is perfect: “Forgoing spontaneity for carefully timed monotony.”

    This is a beautiful post, a message to those who still wait. To you in the past, and to me in the past as well.

    I like the way our community throws out lifelines across space and time to each other.

  2. Beautiful Luna … I wrote something similar about the lesson learned about giving up the control and learning to control what I *can* control (very little, except the way I can react to situations … ). Except of course, mine is on the basis of living Childfree.

    Anyway just wanted to comment and let you know I’m still reading, even though I’m typically just lurking. Can’t wait to read more as time continues to pass …

  3. Oh, Luna…thinking of you. So glad you get to have this.

  4. other then the late loss I could post this on my blog as something I wrote, I don’t mean literally and I don’t write well, plus I have lots of typo’s but the awful feelings, your life planned around your cycle. I still an emense loss that I didn’t get to have Maya as a newborn it took us 17 months to get her home, and I am angry, but then also so happy because I stillahd it better then alot of people. So now as we try to adopt again in the USA we willhope for the best but still be terrified of all the uncertainess it will bring, if we ever get picked.

  5. This is such a thoughtful post, Luna. I really related to your comments about how watching our children grow teaches us to look at time in a very different way. Like you, I sometimes feel nostalgic for that time I had with Little Miss as a newborn – part of me wishes I could go back and experience those moments all over again – while another part of me is looking forward to watching her take her first few steps/say her first words. But mostly I am content to dwell in the here and now, and to remain mindful of every precious moment I get to spend with her.

    Oh, and with regard to your last post, I found that a combination of red lentils, carrot and sweet potato went down fairly well!

  6. I used to be so desperate for time to pass. Until the next procedure, until the next try, until beta day.

    Now I am grasping each minute, trying to stop the clock from ticking.

  7. Thank you Luna. This is a beautiful post and your final paragraph touches me.

  8. Your post reminds me of all the time spent in relentless pursuit of what came so easily for others. I waited so long I lost myself and just when I remembered who I was, I became something else again. I try to remind myself that time is different for Baby K than it is for me. Praying that I’ll be able to hold on to my marbles long enough to see him understand that I was waiting to love him.

  9. Thank you for this.

  10. I am so happy to have read your words as your perspective on time shifted. I am a better person for understanding your story. It is just as bitter sweet, this whole growing up thing, for all of us.

  11. Your words & feelings sounded ALL too familiar, my path towards motherhood was not smooth. In my large extended Hispanic family fertility is a given…..how it skipped me is a mystery. In utter rage I sent out a letter one holiday that said “Stop inviting me to baby showers, baptisms and birthdays, STOP IT”. However, because we are so closely knit, they orchestrated an intervention and told me to stop feeling sorry of myself and get a grip! My anger turned to God and I became agnostic and sullen for months..did not understand the “loving God” stories until I experienced God intimately and personally while hiking in the woods. That experience profoundly changed me and re-shaped my life. Time passed and I found joy/peace again and began to relish my wonderful husband and friends more… adoption came my way, not once but twice without the cost of expensive private agencies and lawyers. We helped a woman who decided an abortion was her only option choose life………in return we were given the ultimate gift….LIFE. To those of you on this journey……Godspeed! Laura

  12. […] because I believe that sometimes simple chaos rules. The forces of the universe keep spinning and time passes and life keeps on moving. Sometimes you keep up, sometimes you fall behind. Sometimes we’re […]

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