Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to comment on my blog post yesterday. I really appreciated all the different perspectives and it’s given me lots of food for thought. I will reply to each of you individually but just wanted to send out a general thank you and to provide an update – more to get my own thoughts in order than anything else.
Yesterday I called my therapist and asked if she could fit me in at the last-minute. I had been seeing her regularly up until a few months ago and so currently do not have a weekly, standard appointment. She managed to squeeze me in and I saw her this morning. A few things came out which resonated with me.
My therapist has known me for a long time and I think what was helpful is that she could see my current experiences in the broader context of who I am and the kinds of issues that often crop up in my life. Without going into too much detail, one of these is that I am the eldest child, very responsible and born with a high level of attunement to the feelings of those around me. One of the ways that this plays out in my life is that I am generally the peace keeper and have a tendency to put my own needs on the back-burner in the service of nurturing others (hell, I even made a profession out of it). Eldest children commonly have feelings of displacement or deprivation stemming from their early displacement when siblings came along. Although I am not conscious of this, and would not have made the link on my own, I have definitely been aware of these feelings at various times in my life and within various relationships…. I just didn’t understand why. One of the questions I was asking my therapist is why now? Why do I sudently feel this way RIGHT NOW, when I have been feeling pretty calm and peaceful lately.
Significantly, my younger sister is pregnant with her second baby – in fact she gives birth next Monday. Although I have been feeling OK about this, my therapist suggested that perhaps I have some unresolved feelings that I am not processing… that perhaps it is arousing feelings of deprivation and displacement that I am not in tune with. That not only this, but it triggers enormous feelings of helplessness and despair… causing me to try and take back some level of control in an attempt to mitigate against this despair. Hence the sense of urgency, and wanting resolution on the adoption issue RIGHT NOW. That’s the first part. As she was speaking I just started sobbing…so perhaps she is onto something.
The second part is that being the natural peacekeeper, I have a lot of fears around what might happen if I force my needs onto someone else. I tend to hold back and keep these needs to myself or find some way of meeting them independently. Due to these fears, she susggested that I might be catastrophising the implications of my husband not being on board with adoption currently and what might happen if I were to take a much stronger stand… things like, maybe it wasn’t meant to be, maybe we were never meant to have children, maybe it will end in divorce. She kindly reminded me that we have no idea what the future holds and we also don’t know how my husband would react in the future if I were to be more forceful with my needs… for example, booking an appointment with a private adoption agency and getting him to come along.
Because – to answer two of my lovely contributors from yesterday – we have tried couples counselling specifically to work through this issue of adoption. Twice in fact. The first time was after my first miscarriage two years ago, and the second wast a year ago after my second miscarriage. Both times I became frantic around adoption and we went off to therapy. The therapy was helpful in that it did hold space for both of our feelings and certainly I was able to calm down to a mild panic and soldier on. But I do feel that my husband used these sessions to kind of ‘weather the storm’, and was just relieved when I calmed down and continued to do everything possible to fall pregnant. In this way no actual resolution on adoption has ever been made. But my therapist reminded me that I don’t have to deal with it this way, and that I could be more proactive in terms of exploring adoption and asking him to do it with me. She reminded me of the story of our furchild…
4 years ago I wanted to get a puppy. We were finally living in a home with a garden and I had wanted a dog for years but never felt it was fair on the dog due to circumstances. My husband was not keen at all and we went back and forth for ages and ages. Eventually, I told my husband that he had two options – he could help me choose a puppy, or he could accept whichever puppy I brought home. He didn’t help me choose a puppy, but he did come with me to fetch him and they have shared the most ridiculous love ever since. My husband tells me about 5 times a day how much he loves our dog and often says it’s the best thing I ever did for us.
Now… I am not going to go out and choose a baby and bring it home. But if this next transfer is not successful, I may set up an appointment with a social worker, or ask if we can go and spend a morning at a local Baby Home. I have no idea what would happen. He might say no. He might still feel the same way. He might realise how much is at stake and something might start shifting inside of him. Or he might not and I might end up leaving him. No one knows… but I guess that’s the point. I don’t know and so assuming doom and gloom is not helpful. Being more proactive with my needs is helpful, and allowing myself to be very sad and even have a good cry, about the fact that my sister can have babies and I haven’t, is also helpful.
4 thoughts on “A slight shift in perspective”
Oh my, if id known about your sister, I’d have had lots to say on yesterdays post! I was in that exact same situation – sisters second child, still fighting for #1, feeling very displaced. That is very hard to deal with and I didn’t talk to my sister for 3 months. I just mentioned it the other day to her and she said that she understood. But I still feel awful about it.
I did what you’re thinking of – I researched an agency, contacted a lawyer, and got on the agency list for when we were done with IVF. My husband wasn’t thrilled, but he understood my need to look forward and plan. It also told him I was serious.
I’m glad you went to counseling. It sounds like you covered a lot.
Oh my word, I love hearing that I’m not alone in my reactions. I think I have been too passive up until now and haven’t sent the message of how serious it is. I’ve gone to one adoption workshop on my own and that’s it. I think if this transfer is not successful there is a good argument for exploring both options together so that we can understand the practicalities and the emotions each option evoke in more ‘real’ ways…if this makes sense!
My sister has been amazing… so sensitive and understanding. We didn’t stop talking but we didn’t talk about the pregnancy, which I was very grateful for. The baby is due on Monday and I’ve recently started engaging with the pregnancy again… I find it almost easier to relate to a baby than to a pregnancy, if that makes any sense at all!
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Setting up an appointment with a social worker for you and your husband and talking about adoption sounds like a good idea to me. Your husband could hopefully raise some of his concerns and questions then and see how he feels about it all afterwards. Maybe he will gradually come around to the idea. Or be open to other options. I am glad to hear you went to counseling and are dealing with some of your own issues around infertility. I’m also the oldest child in my family and a people pleaser! Neither of my siblings have had children yet but I don’t think it will be that far off and I already know that will bring up some difficult feelings for me when they do. I also found it interesting to read other people’s comments on your blog yesterday. For instance how the maternal instinct does seem to be much stronger in general than the paternal in other couples also. My Dad also told me once that he wasn’t really keen to have children himself but once I was born he changed his mind and now he’s kid crazy!
I totally agree – set something up and then tell your husband. I think he definitely needs ‘prompts’, and in some ways, someone to help decide things for him. I also tend to catastrophise and let my fears spiral out of control. Your therapist sounds perceptive. And I know what you mean about relating better to a baby than to a pregnancy – I just think a pregnancy is loaded with all kinds of visceral ‘symbolism’ and significance to anyone in the throes of TTC/infertility etc: your sister’s pregnancy was probably affecting you much more than you know…