Going Up to Hope
We’ve been using a “road of infertility” metaphor
to explore how it feels to be infertile. It’s a nice, calming
way to examine the issues associated with infertility, but,
in reality, dealing with infertility on a day-to-day basis is
more like a roller coaster.
Roller coasters are fun, right? It’s exciting
climbing that hill, and even though it’s scary and you lose
your breath as you drop into the depths, you call that exciting
as well because the ride will be over soon.
But, on the infertility roller coaster, the end
of the ride flashes by, but the roller coaster just keeps on
going. You can’t seem to get off. Up the hill again, and down
into the depths again. Those otherwise exciting dives into the
depths are now dreaded; you even get queasy as you go toward
the top. You feel as if you are in a never-ending episode of
The Twilight Zone.
Other people get on the roller coaster, take one
trip, and get off — with their new baby — saying “isn’t this
fun?” as they leave. You may tell them how sick you are feeling
and how depressed you are getting. Going up and down over and
over is not fun! In fact, you don’t have time to take all the
other rides or see the other fun things in the carnival because
all you seem to be doing is riding this roller coaster. You
lament your lost time. You lament the fact that you can’t seem
to have a baby. Each month you try again, but your hopes are
dashed when you go down into the depths once more.
During this tumultuous process you don’t get much
sympathy. Roller coasters are supposed to be fun. You wanted
to do this. You are just continuing to have fun riding the roller
It’s not like a death. A death of someone close
to us is more like falling off of a cliff. You land; you suffer
grievous emotional injury. It takes a long time to recover from
that emotional injury. But the death happened to you, you didn’t
choose to walk off the cliff. Once you hit the bottom after
a death, you do have the ability to get up and begin to recover
from your emotional injuries. The fall, though extremely severe,
is over. There is an ending, one that you cannot change.
As for you on the infertility roller coaster,
there is no apparent emotional injury. Your stomach is queasy
and your mind is screaming “Why won’t this end?” But friends
at the fairground wave happily as the coaster zooms by, saying,
“Just relax. Have fun! You’ll get there!” as you continue to
go round and round and round. No one sees the emotional injuries
you are suffering from being continually jostled around. They
don’t see how you are out of control. It is not like you were
at the bottom of a cliff, needing to be picked up and tended
You go up again. You no longer look forward to
it, even though it might yield that long-awaited child. You
know what is probably beyond the rise — another long drop into
despair and depression.
So why stay on the roller coaster? It does stop.
People do get off. Although you say you can’t get off, in reality
you could at each stop – but it would be without the child you
so desperately want. You stay because to get off is even worse
than the ride itself. The rest of the fairgrounds of life pale
because you have no child to share in the fun. Everyone else
got their child on this ride, why were you the one to fail?
You stay on because of hope. You hope that the
next ride will be different. Instead of the drop being the pain
of loss and emptiness, the drop will be the pain of labor, delivery,
and success. You hope that this will be the last ride, and that
you won’t have to stay on any longer.
Hope is your driving force to continue. Hope makes
it all seem worthwhile.
As long as hope remains greater than the effort,
work, loss, despair, and depression, you will continue to stay
on the roller coaster. Hope keeps you going.
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