I’m like a badly dubbed foreign film. The words sound right, but the voice is all wrong. My lips keep moving long after the words are said. It feels laughably false, but they keep on watching anyway.
If I go through the motions, I may actually start believing what I say. It’s not lies or misdirection, simply an unspoken truth that lingers in the air.
I am desperately sad that I cannot have another baby.
There, I’ve said it. And very few will understand. It seems I am speaking a foreign language after all.
“ANOTHER? You want ANOTHER child? Seriously?” the woman shrieks at me, wide-eyed and astonished. I wish I had just left it alone. This is why I stick with the abridged version, the words they expect, familiar phrases that mean less than nothing at this point. No one wants to hear about this crazy hope I have been clutching for years.
Even my dearest friends, who love me and listen patiently, do not understand.
I love the life I’ve been given. I adore my three beautiful daughters. I have been absurdly blessed. And I feel greedy wanting more of it, but I can’t seem to reason my disappointment away. I have tried and tried.
I still remember the parade of doctors that came to my room: GP, OB, Nephrologist and even a few nurses. They began to cautiously broach the subject in the days after B was born. I had made no secret of my desire to have a big family, at least four (and a whisper in my head adds “or five, or six”). Add that to my “religious” demeanor and I can see why they were worried that I wouldn’t listen.
No more babies for me.
My kidney would not survive, and neither would I.
I didn’t give it much thought at the time. A twinge of sadness that I would not feel the wonders of pregnancy again; a sigh of relief that I would not feel the wonders of pregnancy again. Of course we would adopt. It had been discussed since we were starry-eyed teenagers planning our perfect life.
I’ve been holding tightly to the dream ever since. My husband, not so much. As we enter our third year in the process, almost a full year with our name on the list of approved homes, it has finally occurred to me that this may not happen.
No more babies for me.
After all the classes, workshops, paperwork, praying, homestudy, endless discussions, hopes raised only to be dashed again, waiting, waiting, waiting… we are near the end. We aren’t on the same page anymore.
He’s been good to do this for me, though now I wished we hadn’t even started. It was something he felt we should do, but had no actual desire for. But adoption is a team sport. And when push comes to shove… well, I just can’t keep pushing.
I know this isn’t a real tragedy. I’ve lived through that before, the complete and utter devastation of it.
But in some ways this is even lonelier. I feel guilty for being this sad about a normal thing. So I minimize the longing and paint a happy face on it. I’d rather keep it to myself. It’s so much worse when I share and they stare at me blankly. Or, worst of all, act like I’m crazy for feeling this way. Because deep down, I wonder if they’re right.
It’s time I face it, so I can move on. I want to dream new dreams, but first I have to grieve the old one.
otherwise “year by year,
as we deny and avoid the pains and losses,
the rejections and frustrations,
we’ll become less and less,
trivial and trivializing,
empty shells with smiley faces painted on them.”
Eugene Peterson (Leap Over a Wall)
So here’s me, and this is my lament. Because God hears my secret disappointments… especially when no one else understands.
What about you? Do you have a grief that people don’t understand? How do you mourn for hidden hurts?