In general, hope is considered as a positive concept. In my country (Switzerland) we say: "Where there is hope, there is a way". I do think it is often true, but not always.
Actually, I even think that hope can become destructive. Especially when this hope has not been fulfilled for a very long time. It somehow turns bitter. At least that is what it did in my case when we could not have children after years and years of trying.
Towards the end of infertility treatments, I realized that continuing treatments would have kept the hope alive, but it would never have been a guarantee for holding a baby in my arms. Before that, I kind of thought I paid that price (i.e. the operation, the treatments) for the baby itself. But all we got was the hope. And honestly, that hope got smaller with every cycle and every disappointment, while the price seemed to rise higher and higher. I even came to the point where I caught myself thinking "Why should it work this time? It didn't work last time either."
So when we said goodbye to hope, it was a relief in some ways. Giving up this hope also meant that we had to grieve. And that was no fun at all.
Thankfully, I got through the worst of the grief. I started to feel better. Then, something unexpected happened. I wonder whether others have experienced the same? While I had given up hope, a very close friend of mine would not. She continued mentioning that she still believed I would be a mother one day. She would look up alternative treatments, natural medication and things like that. I told her that it was okay if she wanted to keep that hope for me, but that she should please understand that I had to let it go. It was a question of survival. She said she understood. But she kept mentioning it all the same. Again and again. Until the day I told her that this was doing no good to me.
Then there was my aunt. I have not seen her in years, but we do write each other for Christmas and birthdays. Last December, I wrote to her that the year 2015 had been a tough year for us because we had to let go of the dream of having a family. I am sure my aunt meant well. She answered "I would not give up just yet". As if that hope had only been there for a short time. As if it had not been honoured the way it should.
I never responded to that. I do not expect her to understand. Some people do not realize that by the time you are able to tell them that you will never have children, a lot has happened. Years of hoping, of treatments, tears and continuous disappointment. It is not like we got our diagnosis and accepted it right away.
Somehow, in our society, people think that hope is always the right answer. It is not. Sometimes hope is just plain wrong.
I still think that the healthy kind of hope exists. The hope I have now is completely different: I hope for a fulfilled life, even without children. It's the kind of hope that makes life better, not worse.
written by guest blogger Elaine
Oh, I love this, Elaine. I love your last sentence. I too believe that we have to give up hope (and you're right, at first this means grief and is very painful), in order to be able to find hope for something new, something real, something achievable.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Mali.Delete
How accurate this is Elaine!ReplyDelete
I remember one close friend who was forever optimistic for us and would comment every time we met. I was touched by his confidence but it did wear us out as he initially had no idea of the extent of our treatments and the fallout we had to deal with after each negative result.
I love your sentence about hope… “As if it had not been honoured the way it should”…
I don’t think any of us comes to the decision lightly to stop trying. It takes a lot of time, research, and an acceptance that our dreams will be different to what we had wanted.
I read this quote a few months ago by Herman Hess - “Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.”
Thank you for this quote. It is so true!Delete
Dear Klara, thank you so much for your hospitality here on your blog. I enjoyed writing in English for a change. :-)ReplyDelete
dear Elaine, thank you for writting. It is lovely to have my very first guest blogger.Delete
Ah! Elaine -- so wonderful to see you here on Klara's blog! I'm grateful for the English as I had a strong hunch that what you are writing in German is powerful and now, with this guest post, I know that to be true. I am truly sorry that your aunt was not able to see that her words cut deep -- even for me. I have tried to explain to those who had the capacity to understand that I had to let go of one dream in order to open myself up for another. Thank you for sharing yourself and your ideas (and thanks to Klara for sharing her blog). I'm thrilled to have another voice helping to convey the many complexities. xoReplyDelete
Thank you, Pamela! It is such a gift to find women like Klara, you and many others on the internet!Delete
This is so true, all of it.ReplyDelete
I know exactly what you mean when you've given up hope, yet a friend cannot. I actually lost a friendship over this. She couldn't accept that we were done and it wasn't healthy for me to have that pressure in my life. I never asked that she agree with the choices that I made, just that she support me.
I am so very sorry about this, BentnotBroken. But I am also proud of you for standing up for yourself. It is hard.Delete
Great post & very true, Elaine. I had a dear friend from our pregnancy loss support group who kept telling me how badly she felt for us, had we thought about adoption, etc. etc.?? I adored her and I know she meant well, but she was NOT HELPING I kind of cut her off short during one telephone call, and she did apologize to me the next time we spoke - she realized she had pushed a little too far. (And by the way, your English is flawless!!)ReplyDelete
Thank you, Loribeth. I am glad your friend realized that she had gone too far and that she apologized.Delete
I learned some of my English in your country, even in your province! I absolutely loved it.
Wonderful, wonderful post. I adore how you now hope for a fulfilled life. Your post made me realize that my overarching goal all along was to have a fulfilled life. Having children (for me) is just one way to achieve that overarching goal. Your post also reminded me of book The Next Happy: Let Go of the Life You Planned and Find a New Way Forward, by Tracy Cleantis. She, like you, gave up her hope for children to find another. Thank you for sharing your story, Elaine!ReplyDelete
Thank you so much for your kind words, Ruby. I am glad you had that little aha moment :-). Your comment makes me think about myself, too. What was my goal in having children? I do not know it precisely. I just wanted them. I will definitely have to think about this a little more...Delete
By the way, I ordered the "The Next Happy". It arrived two days ago and I started reading it yesterday :-).
Beautiful piece Elaine and I love the sentiments. Yes, I had the experience of a (newly pregnant) friend who sobbed in front of me and begged and pleaded with me not to stop hoping, when I was clearly at the end of my sanity. I had stopped trying, and hoping, and was feeling happy(ish) for the first time in three years. Yet she cried and begged and told me to do this weird treatment and that weird treatment....I was furious.ReplyDelete
Giving up hope released me from limbo. I like how you say you have replaced it with a new kind of hope, for something else, and so have I. Great topic.
Different Shores, I am replying late since I have only just discovered your comment.Delete
I am very sorry about the experience you have had with your newly pregnant friend. Even if there were pregnancy hormones involved, this was completely out of place. Of course this must have made you angry since she did not respect your choices!
I am glad you realized you needed to take care of yourself and your sanity. It was the same for me, too.