Months ago when we sat down and planned out our first few weeks of date nights I included “bubble bath & champagne” in our list. During that first bubble bath while drinking champagne, it occurred to me how much I really liked champagne… and by champagne I mean a sparkling wine because “real” champagne is only from a certain part of France and the kind we like is from somewhere else… it’s sweeter. In fact, when we asked for it to be served at our wedding we were informed it was a “downgrade” because it wasn’t the real stuff. We didn’t care. It’s yummy. Anyway, I digress. I decided then and there in the bathtub that every month following, whenever my period arrived, we would treat ourselves to a bottle of champagne. Not to celebrate another month of disappointment and loss, certainly not that, but instead to celebrate each other and our survival of another month trekking through hell trying to grow our family. Because survival is truly what we are doing, and every month that this pain doesn’t swallow me whole is a month worth celebrating.
When people first learn about our little champagne celebration I always have to explain that we’re celebrating our survival; it’s not some dark humoured celebration of our losses. Nor are we trying to drink our worries away. It’s just that after a month of hoping and dreaming and going through treatment, just to be disappointed again, it’s nice to take a few minutes to toast each other and indulge in a sweet, bubbly treat while we celebrate our survival.
I’ve chosen the word “survival” carefully… However, with that said, I’m not sure how intentional it was when we first started our champagne celebrations. I think at that time, the word just seemed right. But in the months since as I’ve shared with friends our little tradition and had time to process it more, I’ve come to the point of using the word survival very intentionally. I’ve seen things online of “overcoming infertility” or “battling infertility”… but thinking of it in terms of survival resonates more with me.
Thinking of “overcoming” or “battling” my infertility doesn’t sit well with me for a couple of reasons. To start, considering I’m still in the middle of my infertility, using words like “overcome” seems a bit ahead of the game, and I wouldn’t want to tempt fate by suggesting that I’ve already overcome it. I haven’t. And when will my infertility be “overcome”? Will it be overcome if and when I finally hold my own child in my arms? Because if that is it, what if that day never comes? Then I’ll have failed to overcome infertility, or lost the battle. Right? Wrong. I don’t want to think that if we end up childless that we’ll be the losers in this. I like to hope that if we end up childless we’ll make our peace with it and that we’ll be ok. Instead of feeling like “overcoming” is empowering me, it makes me feel like it’s setting me up for failure because I’m just not sure where I’m going to end up.
The thought of my infertility as a battle doesn’t sit well with me either. A battle seems to imply to me that there might be a disastrous end to this. Battles mean people die. And while I have had an enormous amount of loss during this process, including an ectopic pregnancy, thinking of my baby being a causality in a battle is disturbing and sad. Battles also imply weapons… and while I have days where I do feel like I’m pulling out big guns to fight this problem I have, I’m ultimately trying to create life, not destroy it. So battle terminology doesn’t resonate with me.
But survival. It does. Survival may not seem very empowering, but it is to me. It might not be for anyone else, but it’s right for me. It’s not arrogant or destructive, and it acknowledges that something terrible is happening, but that I’ve made it through, or rather that I’m making my way through. I’m doing my best to keep going, to grasp at threads of hope even when I feel like I’ve reached the end of the rope. Surviving my infertility means to me that it’s not keeping me down forever. I do have (lots of) bad days, but so far I have made it through those bad days 100% of the time… So I’m going to plan on continuing to survive. The journey is hard, and has been full of heartbreak and despair, but surviving it means I’m going to keep going regardless of where this crazy road is taking us. And along the way, I’m going to occasionally toast with Matt our amazing ability to continue forward together.