A week or two ago, I was reading a novel (We Are Now Beginning Our Descent by James Meek) that had an interesting comment on hope, and I thought it was worth sharing here, given that hope is such an major part of the infertility journey, and of our childless life.
The idea was that hope allows for the possibility that the desired outcome won’t come about. Hope means that whilst we hope something will happen, we know that it might not. This seems a perfectly reasonable comment to me, but one I’d never really considered!
It seems to me, therefore, that when many people say they’re filled with hope they’re actually saying they’re filled with certainty that they’ll get their happy ending. I’m pretty sure we’re all like this (unless we have had a diagnosis prior to beginning our quest to have children). We start trying to get pregnant, sure that it will be possible. When we realise that this might not be so simple, doubt starts creeping in. Are we hopeful, or are we still sure that it won’t happen to us? I guess it varies. Some of us go into denial, confident that we’ll find a way. Some of us start to realise that it might not be possible, shocked to see our confidence and certainty disappear, and we cling on to hope, though see it receding. That element of hope though - even when we fully realise that we might not be able to achieve our preferred outcome, even when we are terrified that this might happen – can keep us going and give us strength. Yet hope can also torture us into continuing treatments even when we know we should stop. Hope – it is very complicated.
I’ve heard some people say that they think it might be easier If they didn’t have hope, as they deal with the agonising stresses of assisted reproduction or waiting for adoption or the month-by-month waiting of trying to conceive. Elaine, a new blogger who has guest-posted on hope this week on Klara’s blog here, notes that there is indeed a sense of relief when letting go of hope.
But she adds that then you have to grieve, and “that was no fun at all.” I have also said that at first I felt that the loss of all hope was harder than having it. And so for a while we live with a certainty that our lives are never going to be happy.
But then hope sets in again, bringing in at first cracks of light, allowing for the possibility that maybe our lives won’t be so hard after all. Hope returns, but for something else.
Then, to come full circle, I think hope goes away again. A new certainty takes root, the certainty that I and and will be okay, that a life without children is not only worth living, but worth celebrating. In that case, I don’t need to have hope that I will have a good life. Because I know I will.