The paths behind our house, in us, and on this trip

There are paths behind our house that criss-cross and go every which way through the woods. Up hills, down hills, around mini-gorges. They loop back on themselves, they dead-end, they end up at roads with cars. It’s pretty back there. We often go for walks on those paths, in the brisk air of spring, in the fecund heat of summer, throughout all of the stunning leaf-changing phases, and now, in the snow. We’ve been walking on them for over a year now, and I still sometimes get lost.

More than once, I’ve thought: These paths reflect what’s going on in my mind. Or: These paths are like the many paths we can take toward family. The circuitousness, the meandering tangle of it, not much of it straightforward, so much of it easy to get lost on.

Nearly three years into this trip, I am still caught in the tangle—caught in the trickiest tangle of all, and right when I thought I’d come to the end of the path, finally. Right when I’d thought I was almost home.

All DH and I want, all we are searching for, is the path of least resistance. The path of least resistance toward creating our family. That is what we’ve been looking for all along.

Going the donor egg route wasn’t about maintaining DH’s genetic ties to our children—neither of us cared about that much to begin with, and now it is really beside the point. We chose donor egg because we thought it was the path of least resistance. The path that would accept us and allow us to have our family.

It still could be our path. Sometimes I even think that it is likely still is our path to family.

With RBA, our screenings are finished, our money is in, our relationships with the staff are developed, and the ball is solidly rolling. The path, in other words, is open. What can happen to me and those embryos scares me, but the path is open, and those could be our future children, waiting for us. We have to try, for all four of us.

There is also the possibility that there has been something wrong with DH’s sperm all along—a thought that is hard to digest, but cannot be ignored, as he has been a significant common denominator in all of the losses. Will we pursue this route, if this next transfer results in another loss? We really don’t know at this point, and won’t know until the time comes for us to decide. One thing this trip has taught me is that I can’t know or understand everything ahead of time. There is a time and a place for each element to reveal itself.

Adoption has been revealing itself with increasing openness in recent times, and as intimidated as we are by the labyrinth of it, we’ve also been saying things to each other like: If other people can figure it out, we can. I’ve even started having thoughts that we should try to adopt no matter what happens on the donor egg route. In other words, adoption for a first child, or for a second child, a sibling to a child born of donor egg.

In exploring and opening to various routes and various visions of the future, a freedom comes with that, a loosening of the reins, that feels right. Not clinging to one thing, not imposing one vision, but opening up, and letting more in.

There have been times when I’ve been walking on those paths back there and I’ve gotten lost and the most remarkable thing happens—I see the trees around me as if I am seeing them for the first time. In my disoriented state, the familiar becomes strange.

A professor of mine from way back once said that moments like this are akin to waking up in a house not your own, walking down the hallway  toward a mirror you didn’t know was there—you see your reflection but because you’re not expecting it, you don’t recognize yourself in the glass. You see yourself as if for the first time.

Walking and walking and walking through the tangle of paths, and not reaching home, it’s like I’m inside a house of mirrors I didn’t expect to be inside. I don’t expect to see myself here or there, but there I am, staring back, a little startled.

Right now is putting-me-back-together time. It’s strength-and-hope building time. It’s health time. Anyone who has had multiple losses knows the drill—building back the blood, the body, the mind, the heart, the sense of spirituality, the solid grasp on what is possible. A person can’t achieve much of this while suffering through the slow-motion train wreck of miscarriage itself. But for now I’m going to take advantage of the relative health and forward-motion I’m experiencing and try to keep opening, and seeing things anew.

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  1. So many thoughts with this post. Especially with the imaginary of the paths. Years ago I was reading Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. The section on the hike with his son into the woods reminds me of this post, mainly because so few people actually take the time to really consider going off a given path and certainly without a guide.

    The big thing I’ve been learning as I reflect on our journey to expand our family is the theme that though the route we ended up taking is vastly different from what most people experience, ultimately it was the best one for Grey and me. Was it painful and unfair? Definitely. But we both learned so much about ourselves, our values and ultimately what we really wanted out of life. This has lead us to not only be better parents, but also better partners in our marriage and better people. Though the fear of the unknown still exists, I also know we are both so much more courageous and willing to risk heartache. Because ultimately we now know we’ll be okay in the end.

    I believe you and your DH are the same way. And I believe that one way or another, some day soon it will all be okay.

    • Big sigh of comfort here—thank you for your words. That last line made me feel so comforted and like it was just so clearly true, it will be okay. I’m sitting here researching volunteer opportunities with children right now, in a concerted effort to 1) use these helping skills I’ve worked hard to attain and enjoy sharing with people who are in need, and 2) draw children back into my life, open to those children who are not mine but whom I can nurture, if I just allow myself to. Something has to change. this is a long way of saying that what you describe about learning about yourselves, your values, and what you want out of life, and about becoming better people—I feel that that is possible for us, too. And already has been at work. A year ago the thought of working with children as a social worker/volunteer sounded like the worst kind of pain. But now I am letting go of all these ideas I had about what has to happen first, next, then after that. Maybe I can just reconnect with kids without there being any guarantee that I’ll have my own, maybe I am strong enough to do that. That’s why your words about risking heartache are resonating so with me right now. DH and I are also being so much more courageous in terms of $—here I am, unemployed, but because I’m unemployed, and we’re taking this huge $ risk, we are both getting the nurturing we need right now. I want to read Pirsig’s book again now! It has been decades. Literally. xoxox

  2. This metaphor is so fitting for me right now. Leading up to our next FET, I feel like I’m climbing a hill and once I get to the top I’ll know if I’ve reached the summit, or if I’ve just cleared the first foothill on my way to a mountain range. After all we’ve done, to think we might have to start a whole new journey towards DE IVF is daunting, to say the least. And as you’ve so eloquently written, even that isn’t always the end of the journey.

    • It’s pretty crazy, yes. I mean, I just got off the phone with someone from my local adoption Resolve group and she’s talking to me about how it took her 3 years, and her friend 3 years, and another friend 4 years…could be on the criss-crossing paths for a while yet to come. I hope you are reaching a summit and not just clearing a foothill. I hope that for me, too.


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