It is after 8 pm as I finally put pen to paper (or rather finger to keyboard) to write my feelings down about this day. Father’s Day is nearly over and, frankly, I’m so glad for that.
The emotional toll days like this take on infertile couples is often completely lost on society at large. There are various common views on the difficulty and heartache felt by us: unnecessary, selfish and self-centered and a pain of our own choosing. Respectfully, these and all other similar opinions are simply rooted in ignorance and a general lack of empathy and compassion.
In the course of a person’s evolution and development through the years of his or her life, many milestones and markers shift in meaning and significance. As children, adolescences and young adults, we mainly observe days like Father’s Day as a spectator. We view them from the passenger seat side of life. We identify ourselves as someone’s child, and if we’ve been lucky enough to have had worthy and caring parents, we lovingly celebrate those relationships year after year. We draw cards in kindergarten, we buy gifts, and we go out to brunch– anything that would show our love and appreciation as a child and offspring of our parents.
For some, this perspective begins to change and shift as we grow older, get married, or simply feel one of strongest and most basic instincts in nature–to procreate. And, generally speaking, many of us transition into parenthood by taking the usual steps: by finding a mate, by getting pregnant and by giving birth to a baby.
Alas, the course of parenthood does not always run as smoothly or predictably as that for everyone who feels the unyielding drive and instinct to have children.
For those of us who suffer from infertility, the process could take many many years. We find ourselves in purgatory. We find ourselves stuck in one spot and don’t seem to be able to escape this terrible place. Every attempt, effort and action is thwarted. The results are either suffering through the nothingness or suffering through more losses, defeats and heartaches.
Years go by. And we infertiles get to dream of our children, think of names and discuss opinions on childrearing. We get to mourn the emptiness in our homes and our hearts. If we’re lucky enough, we continue to weather this terrible storm together. Sadly, many do not make it through, as infertility takes a terrible toll on relationships. And milestones and markers come and they go, at first feeling unbearable, then repugnant and annoying, until they simply become triggers of the deep pain that is never completely gone, but one that resurfaces frequently and especially on days dedicated to the celebration of parenthood.
We are no longer just children of parents we celebrate annually on these days. And we’re not parents to be congratulated and remembered by our children and society. We now belong to a different category; an undefined category; a phantom category. We’re shadow parents. We’re parents of all those children who never happened and of the ones that almost happened but were lost.
So, if you hear about someone who’s struggling with infertility, when you learn that your friends are battling heartache and loss, and when you hear them express sadness and pain, check your biases at the door before you form an opinion. Remember this: we are human beings, just like you; and we dream, strive and sacrifice for our children’s sake, just like you. Realize that we are survivors and that we are going to amazing parents as, although the battle is hard, we who are guided by love refuse to retreat and give up on children yet to come. And especially remember that we are deserving of your respect and compassion, not your judgment and ignorance.
This is dedicated to those who’re walking through hell and beyond to find their ways to their children. Never let infertility and people’s ignorance take away your shine. You are already parents, as you are making the ultimate sacrifice for the mere hope, wish and promise of your children.
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY.