healing week: the in-between

Timing is funny. Just these past few weeks there has been some buzz around the Internets about ALI (Adoption/Loss/Infertility) peeps and healing. And how that process looks different for every single one of us. PAIL bloggers decided to take a look at these issues by having each of our contributing editors write a post of what their healing looked like, in an effort to keep the dialogue going. To keep the discussion open.

Often, the healing process of ALI-ers is shut down, or ignored. Society tells you, you got pregnant/you adopted/you had your baby after multiple losses – now move on. PAIL’s mission is to quietly insist that this is not ok. Yes, we are “parenting” but we are doing so through the experience of loss, of infertility, of adopting that long-awaited for child.

And here’s the timing part of this I mentioned at the start. The day I sat down to write this, was Holy Saturday/Easter Vigil for Christians throughout the world. It is often a hard day for Christians to figure out how to deal with. The idea of Easter Vigil is the belief that Jesus was crucified on Friday, and will rise on Sunday, but Saturday is an in-between time. A waiting, an almost-but-not-yet. And so the atmosphere is one of mourning, but also of expected joy.

This is where I find myself in the trauma of infertility. I am no longer in the “Good Friday” stage of my infertility, where I felt broken, beaten, and bloodied. But I am also not fully in the triumphant celebration of  an “Easter Sunday.”

I remain in the shadowy-in-between. I can easily look back, as if it was just yesterday, and remember the phone call that told us we would likely never conceive naturally. The conversation where I choked out that news to my husband. I can vividly remember losing our IVF pregnancy, of still getting morning sickness while I was in the process of miscarrying. And I remember the quiet sadness that pervaded our lives for so long. Yes, we were happy, we had friends, and jobs, and activities. But there was always that etheral-something, almost like a haunted feeling. A random thought, oh yeah, we can’t get pregnant, we might never.

But there is also the joy. The joy of finding out we were pregnant. The joy of feeling my child move inside me for the first time. The joy when they placed her on my chest and we just laid there looking at each other in awe.

But always I feel part of my spirit remains, lingering, in “Saturday.” Having Stella, that was an “Easter”, that was joy, celebration, and everything that is good about this life. But that doesn’t change that, for right now,  I feel like part of me will always remain in-between a “Good Friday” and “Easter Sunday.”

And I realize this is, in part, a conscious choice on my part. I refuse to leave “Saturday.” I refuse to leave my vigil of waiting, of mourning my loss but also looking forward to my joy. I refuse to leave because to leave, for me, would feel like leaving a part of me, losing a part of me. Our struggles, our loss, that is a part of me. It is a part of what eventually made us a family, and it deserves respect and honor.

The idea of keeping vigil after a loved one is departed is still practiced. When you visit a grave is the most common form. You are in part keeping vigil. You are saying to a departed person, I know you are gone, but I am still here, I am still carrying your memory with me. You are honoring the impact that person made on your life by refusing to let them be forgotten. And in that small way, they live on.

Our infertility is not a “loved one.” But our journey, the strength my husband and I found in our relationship, the quiet moments when we struggled and the joyous moments of our daughter’s birth. That is a “loved one.” That is a part of me that I refuse to let go. I cannot separate the struggle from the joy. I refuse to separate the struggle from the joy.

And so part of me, part of my soul, will always “sit vigil.” It will sit with the ‘me’ who struggled, who cried, who mourned. And I will tell that ‘me:’

I know, I understand. I am still here with you.
There is joy coming. I am still here.

Click here to see the first post in our healing week series: Josey’s Healing Week Post


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PAIL headshotChandra is a Mom and Foster Mom. She holds a Master’s degree in Theology and is particularly interested in the theology of infertility. Chandra grew up in the Northeast but she and her husband are raising their daughter in the middle-of-nowhere Indiana. She has 3 chickens that drive her crazy, a huge garden, and a penchant for bacon. She occasionally attempts to make sense of all those things, and more, over at her personal blog, MetholicBlog. She also shares embarrassing stories about her husband and unicorns.

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