Nina’s first birthday. We gathered everyone around her, lit the candle on her birthday cake, sang, clapped and laughed. And then all the well-meaning adults blew out the candle. Her face says it all….
Wow. Did you ever look up the word disappointment? It’s a real bummer. And I guess I’ve never quite described it, or experienced it, as catastrophic as the definition makes it sound. I’ve always thought of it as the interruption of expectations. And as any good Buddhist will tell you, those damn expectations will get you every time. And don’t get me wrong, I have hopes and dreams, I get disappointed, I experience sadness over things not working the way I’d wanted or imagined them to and I cry (not a graceful crier either mind you). I tend not to stay in that state too long (not just because my nose gets red and my eyelids swell). I’m lucky in that I am one of those people with the gift of re-frame. I’m generally able to adjust my attitude, look at things from a different angle and find the silver lining. Again, I’m lucky, my enthusiastic outlook is generated from within. As the folks I work with tell me… I’ve got moxie. Well, most of the time.
We got disappointing news this week. I suppose I should catch you up. Before beginning cancer treatment, Emily underwent a fertility regimen to obtain some of her eggs. We knew that after chemo and radiation she would not have fertile eggs. We also knew she would not be able to carry a baby. So why harvest the eggs? Well, she felt sure that she could find a surrogate (now called a gestational carrier or G.C.). I felt fairly certain she would not find anyone that insane, but thought it was a great thing to keep her mind off all the cancer stuff. So while getting infused with chemotherapy, she researched surrogacy. Instead of letting the poisons kill anything other than the cancer, she kept her spirits hopeful by learning as much as she could about gestational agents and pregnancy alternatives. And wouldn’t you know, she found a surrogate (excuse me, GE) in the very same town! Long story short, we had 8 embryos frozen. A few weeks ago they thawed them and only two survived. Those two were transfered to the GE. She took a pregnancy test last week and found out she is not, in fact, pregnant. Open the floodgates.
There are any number of silver lining reframes here. Our family is great just the way it is. Our home fits us quite nicely the size and number we are. Financially we are better off with only two children. And on and on. And it isn’t even my own disappointment that I’m struggling with. Though, in all honesty, I’m surprised I was as disappointed as I was. I hadn’t realized how much I was hoping for another sweet smelling, tender, soft and gentle being to enter our lives. But more to the point, what broke (is breaking) my heart has been feeling for Emily. Oh, I know that life isn’t fair and you can’t always get what you want. But through a solid year of stunningly awful cancer treatment, she kept her eyes on the prize. Loss after loss after loss. She never gave in to feeling sorry for herself. She never once asked, “why me?” She got through all that without complaining, without giving up, without breaking down, without giving in, because she was going to have a baby. It kept her going. It kept her positive. And now what?