in which my uterus is like Buddhism in America

Letting go with love. I think that’s twelve-step language. It’s the idea that you detach from someone because doing so will best serve you both. Because if you don’t detach, you’ll just keep enabling them (to continue to hurt you | to continue to hurt themselves). It’s the loving choice for both you and them. Let go, but with so much love.

I feel that way about the idea of carrying again. I’m ready to let go with love. I will always hold a piece of my heart for the babies we’ve lost via my uterus. J will too. We grieve them each day. And I will carry the unfulfilled possibility with me, the abstraction, the could have been. But I have come to a place where I feel that I can walk with that, and where I feel, moreover, that walking with that is preferable to continuing to try.

And I feel really, really, really great about this decision.

There is sooooo much freedom and peace in letting go with love. Phew. If you haven’t already, give it a try sometime. Anyway, my being willing to do this, my wanting to do this, is a product of complex circumstances. I’ve been mulling them over some with my friend G, so lots of what is to follow comes from conversations we’ve shared in the last few days. What would I do without such excellent friends? I shudder to think.

Anyway, letting go with love in five simple steps and one reductive and vaguely offensive analogy:

1. This isn’t something that I feel I have to do. I don’t feel particularly backed into a corner. I do believe I could stay pregnant eventually; I just don’t think I need it enough to put my family through whatever eventually looked like (more losses | many more losses | exhausting our already dwindling savings so much that we can never afford adoption). So there’s choice here. J would support me if I wanted to keep trying with my body. Our families would support us. We could do it. Though I’ve now miscarried three times (which is statistically significant), I don’t feel anywhere near as despondent about my fertility situation as I did after E. I could see an RE. So there’s more clarity to deciding to walk away now, and far, far less panic.

2. We’ve been through enough now for me to say that I officially don’t give a damn how my babies come to me. Just please let them come healthy (enough) and please let them stay. I’d rather someone just show up with two strange/lovely children tomorrow than have to go through any kind of TT anything every again. (I do get the unlikelihood of this, but I figure it can’t hurt to put it out into the universe. Have extra strange/lovely children? Send them our way!) Because seriously, here’s what I’ve learned: I am just really lousy at all of the TT methods. I’m terrible at TTC (stressed all the time), babies don’t seem to thrive inside my body, I have a panic attack in the face of ALL THE PAPERWORK for adoption/foster-to-adopt, I’m tormented by home studies, I have PTSD around pretty much every bit of it, so that now I just start twitching when I even consider how we might score some more kids. I wasn’t even all that in love with being pregnant either time (I felt sexy, I wanted to give birth at full term, I wanted to wear maternity clothes. That’s largely it in the good column. Lame, I know.) But the truth is, J is great at all this stuff. She is good at getting us some babies. She can carry our family towards our next child while I read Hug Time to Bram for the fifteenth time in a given afternoon. We all have our strengths and really: what is marriage beyond learning how to capitalize on both people’s strengths and minimize the damage done by their weaknesses? What I’ve learned is that I’m amazing once a child has been placed in my arms. I’m a great mom. I hate almost everything about securing these little creatures, but I’m over the moon in love with almost everything about mothering them. And the notion that I might love a child more intensely if I carried him or her? Well, I mean, have you spent any time with me and Bram? It’s laughable.

3. So the new plan is to try to adopt one child, either through private adoption or through foster-to-adopt, and have J carry one more time. That should get us to three wee ones. We’re pursuing all of these avenues now because we truly don’t care what order they happen in. More on adoption/foster adoption in a post to come, but for now, I’m finding that I’m even more invested in the idea of a second pregnancy for J than I am in the notion of carrying to term myself. I mean, we all know I was robbed in the pregnancy department, but the truth is, she sort of was too. Her pregnancy with our boy was grief-heavy and anxiety-ridden (I’m saying: projectile vomiting the night before our mid-pregnancy ultrasound). And it ended with a seventy-one hour labor concluding on the anniversary of the day we lost EE with an epidural and a sense of failure. Nothing from start to finish was even close to what she’d have chosen. She had no time to prepare since we started trying about five minutes after losing Emmett (desperation) and she spent the whole pregnancy depressed and broken and feeling lost in her body (which was suddenly and shockingly feminine). Though filled with hope too, that year was hard and unfair to her. So whether our next child comes via J’s body or through adoption of any variety, I’m all in. All in and crazy excited. :)

4. Also, we’ve been so locked into your body/my body discussions that we sort of forgot that this is all just us. What I suffer she suffers, and the other way round. Her pregnancies are my pregnancies, and mine hers. I would swear to your our little boy was inside of me, not instead of her, but also. He is just of us. This isn’t a competition, and it isn’t about equity and fairness to all. It’s about children. Family. Our children. Our family. If we knock her up again, I’m not nearly as worried about jealousy. I believe that this time I’ll have the grace to understand that when she feels the baby kick, it’s a great great victory for all of us.

5. I took a course in religion at Purdue in my undergrad, and a professor of mine used to be a Buddhist monk. When he returned to the US after ten years in India, he had a tough time finding what he needed spiritually through Buddhism because there wasn’t enough community here. When he visited Tibet a year or two later, the Dalai Lama (who knew him and his Catholic background/childhood) told him that the best thing would be to find the easiest path to spirituality, even if that path wasn’t the dream path. Even if that path was Catholicism, with its eight million flaws. That the point was being nurtured, not being nurtured within perfect circumstances. I feel like that now. I just want my babies here. I wanted six kids and now I’m turning 35 and I have one. My uterus is like Buddhism in America: a lovely possibility but isolating and unpredictable as all get out. I don’t need some prescribed sense of perfection. I don’t need absolute balance in my home or in our roles. I just want to raise a whole mess of children while I’m still young enough to (hopefully) one day enjoy life as the mama of out.in.the.world.adult.kiddos, and to share all of it with a wife who understands me better than anyone on the planet.

* If you’re Buddhist in America, good for you! My uterus and I salute you (or, we sit contemplatively with you). This analogy is merely helpful to my strange brain; it should in no way be taken as judgement regarding your religious path. I do, however, stand by my statement about Catholicism having eight million flaws. It sure is pretty, though. Trust me: all those rituals? If I could I would.

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9 thoughts on “in which my uterus is like Buddhism in America

    • How about “articulate” instead of “well articulated”? Anyway…

      I really needed this post today. I needed to hear these things after hearing an NGP turned GP say yesterday that the only way to resolve any NGP insecurity is to carry to term. I know that’s not true, but I’m still furious about it. So thank you for putting this out there.

  1. I’m so happy to read this, Renee. Letting go with love is a pretty prefect description of what is required when laying down the gestational possibility. I really did have a profound sense of peace when we took TTC with me off the table. I’m so glad you are finding the same is true for you. Here’s to a lovely child on their way to your family soon!

  2. In our journey to become parents we had two children come to us through birth and three through adoption. It truly matters not to us when we are tucking them into bed, cheering for them, kissing their cheek or watching them graduate high school – how they came to be our children. We too lost two children prior to our journey into adoption to bring our children home. When you talk about “securing these little creatures” in regard to pregnancy I can tell you I have had unbelievable passion for securing my children’s futures in an amazing way. I am so thankful that I have been blessed as the mother of my three children once their birth mothers brought them into the world and gave them life, it was then my responsibility to help them through that life. I have had the joy of giving my children self esteem, compassion, kindness, self worth, acceptance of differences, love for others and then also the joy of reading, education, stability and so much for. For I am their Mother and I have been by their side for every joy, every struggle, every tear and every hug. It is not just the act of birthing a child that makes you a mother, it is the nurturing, love and guidance through life that makes you a Mom!!

  3. I keep meaning to find time to sit down and write about how very lovely I found this post to be. It speaks volumes of your strength of character and the strength of your marriage and family. Time keeps escaping me, but I wanted to at least briefly tell you how very much admiration I have for the way you have reached your decision and the peace you are finding with it. You have so very much to teach us. And as the mom of an adopted daughter, I so very much appreciate your connection to children no matter how they reach you. Thank you for such a beautiful piece of writing and such an honest piece of your heart.

    • This comment is so kind and generous, and even though I think it’s woefully undeserved (by me, I mean), I appreciate it all the same as it’s a reminder of how much we have to offer one another. Also, I’ve been meaning to say, we have to meet up in Chicago this summer!!!

  4. This makes my heart happy. I hope they come quickly and happily, and that they stay and stay until it’s time for them to go off and forge their own paths. :)

  5. “Also, we’ve been so locked into your body/my body discussions that we sort of forgot that this is all just us. What I suffer she suffers, and the other way round. Her pregnancies are my pregnancies, and mine hers. I would swear to your our little boy was inside of me, not instead of her, but also. He is just of us. This isn’t a competition, and it isn’t about equity and fairness to all. It’s about children. Family. Our children. Our family. If we knock her up again, I’m not nearly as worried about jealousy. I believe that this time I’ll have the grace to understand that when she feels the baby kick, it’s a great great victory for all of us.”

    This is just so beautiful to read. So amazing. I am not envious of the reasons you have had to let go with love, but I am envious that you are able to do it. I have not yet managed to let go of my want to carry, but with every passing day of Andrea’s pregnancy it gets a little bit easier. That is why this paragraph above really spoke to me. It isn’t about the how or the who, it’s about the family that comes at the end of a journey, any journey. B is of you too, and Ziggy will be of me – though we did not carry them. They are our pregnancies too, they are from love.

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