As a child, I had a vivid imagination. Fireflies were fairies dancing, elves were always up to mischief, and I was destined to be a princess in some far-away land. I really wished that these fairytales were true. I wanted them to be, and I had an endless hope that they existed.
The difference between hoping as a child and hoping as an adult is life experience. We quickly learn that not every relationship ends with a “happily ever after” nor does everything we wish for come true with a swish of a wand. Yet despite our experiences, we still hope. We hope for the perfect partner, a world with less hurt, career advancement, or our families to grow. We hold onto hope because we believe in something bigger, something better.
For me, I hope for another child.
My husband and I have struggled with infertility for five years. Holding onto hope during a season of infertility is exhausting and that’s putting it simply. Through IVF, we did become pregnant in our second year of trying; however, our growing hope faded at our 20-week appointment when our son was diagnosed with a severe Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH). After the diagnosis, doctors began to equate my son’s chances of living to a statistic. By the end of my pregnancy, there was only a 20% chance of him coming home. Naturally, we poured all our hope into that 20% with the terrifying knowledge that there is a higher probability he will not come home from the hospital. He fought for 17-days in the NICU and every day we hoped until he took his last breath. In the end, I learned the worse can always happen – it did.
Since then, we have had many failed pregnancy tests and fertility attempts. Every month, I wait and wait and wait for nothing. If the waiting wasn’t bad enough, throw in needles and medications that make you feel pregnant, even though you’re not. It can feel isolating and punishing to see yet another negative result. Many days, it hurts less to fear or doubt than to hope and lose again. If I am honest, at times, my hope for a child suffocates from loss and uncertainty. Still, like a child hoping to see a unicorn, I cling to hope.
It is hard work to hold onto hope in a season of infertility, especially after infant loss. The fear of never having a baby is real. But maybe, real hope knows deep loss and fear. My son was tremendously brave. All odds were against him, and he fought each day to be with me. We hoped, prayed, and begged for him to stay with us, but he was not made for this world. His short life taught me how to hold onto hope and to celebrate what you have while accepting an unwanted reality. While infertility sucks, I have learned that real hope believes anything can be, but if not it will be devastatingly okay. It is simply holding on and knowing that one day it will be different.