How do you take your lemons?
God, grant me the serenity to
accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Grant me the serenity to accept the truckload of lemons life has delivered. Grant me the serenity to accept the fact that we can't have biological children.
Hang on a sec. I have a question.✋
How and where do you actually LEARN to accept the lemons life gives you?
Is it somewhere inside you? Do you shrug your shoulders and say, "That's life." and move on? If you're driven by faith, do you lean on the "everything-happens-for-a-reason" and "this-is-God's-plan" way of accepting hard things? Do you just take your lemons and add some ice and Tito's and call it a day?
I'm sure we learn acceptance at an early age when we figure out we don't always get what we want (like when my brother wouldn't share his G.I. Joes😡or my mom decided to make salmon patties for supper 🤢or my lamb didn't get a trophy at the County Fair 🐑).
But when it's something much BIGGER than action figures and supper choices and sheep shows...when it's something that drastically changes how you thought your life would play out....when it's something that breaks your heart in a way you never saw coming...how do you even begin the process of accepting it?
I have to say––they don't teach you this stuff in school. They don't cover this in the pre-marriage courses. There's no all-encompassing manual on how to process and accept news like this. There's no task list on what to do after you find out you will never have 50/50 biological children with the most amazing human you've ever met.
Nothing could prepare me for all the FEELINGS as I traveled through the five stages of grief.
The DENIAL I was in the weeks following the surgery. Gosh, this has to be a mistake. Maybe they should redo the surgery and check again. (Brian says NO WAY!) Maybe we need to get a second opinion from a bigger hospital in another state. This can't be right. Maybe this and maybe that....
Then there was the ANGER. Why is this happening to us? Why does THAT person get to have a baby and we don't? No one can relate to the pain we feel. How can they just keep living their life when ours has suddenly came to a screeching halt?
BARGAINING is the third stage. I felt more of this during the actual months leading up to Brian's surgery. What if I do this this and this, then can I wake up tomorrow and this is all a dream and I'm pregnant?
Then the DEPRESSION. Oh, the depression. The despair that bubbles up out of nowhere. The tears that silently fall in the shower. The immense sadness that comes with having a four bedroom house and no kids to fill the rooms. The dejection when the neighbors are outside playing with their sweet toddlers. The sleepless nights. The incredible longing. The begging God for a miracle. The empty feeling I carry around. The utter devastation.
Then there's ACCEPTANCE, but we'll talk about that one in a minute.
Grief is weird.
A month or so after the surgery, I met virtually with a gal from church I used to work with in the children's ministry. She had her own trials and tribulations when it came to starting their family, so she was a great person for me to connect with.
We talked a lot about grief. Here is one thing she said that has really stuck with me, and I think many of us can relate to:
"Imagine a box with a big red button on the bottom. The box is taped tightly shut with a ball inside. Now, when you shake that box wildly and repeatedly, the ball will hit the big red button over and over and over again. As time goes on and you shake the box less and more gently, the ball doesn't hit the button nearly as often.
Think of the big red button as your grief and the ball as what triggers it. As you go through these next weeks and months, your red button will get hit a LOT. But over time, it will become less intense and less frequent. While the grief and the triggers will likely remain with you for a very long time (possibly forever), the frequency will dwindle."
This is one of the best analogies I've heard about grief. To me, the stages of grief aren't exactly stages. I don't leave one stage and enter another in a linear way––I may feel depressed today and be angry next week. My big red button might get a lot more action this month than it gets next month.
Grief is fluid. Different things trigger different stages. And while that box was going crazy in the months following the surgery, it's slowed down a bit and is less intense now.
As you read in the latest post by wannabe dad, Brian accepted our reality a lot quicker and easier than I did. I needed time to process my grief, and I very much appreciate him for being patient and giving me the space to do that.
Once I was ready, we started the conversation. For Brian, the choice was easy. He is Team Donor Sperm all the way. You can read all about his reasoning here. Me? It took me a bit longer to get on the same page. I asked all the questions:
How will we pick a donor?
What if he's a rapist or an Iowa State fan? (🤭)
Won't it be weird to have some stranger's sperm put inside me?
How do we approach telling our future child/ren that they don't share DNA with Brian?
What if they want to meet him some day?
What if the donor we choose runs out of sperm at the sperm bank and we want to have another child?
When it comes down to it, acceptance boils down to one thing: a choice.
Let me say it again for the ones in the back.
Acceptance👏 is 👏 a 👏 CHOICE 👏
I had to ask myself some tough questions:
––Ter, do you want to be a mom? YES.
––Do you want be pregnant and experience childbirth with your husband by your side? YES.
––Do you want to give your genes to your kiddos? YES.
––Would you regret not trying? YES.
––Is it going to be hard? Is the journey going to be long and emotional? Do you have it in you to persevere? YES. YES. & YES.
Well, then. That seals it. We're TEAM DONOR SPERM. We made THE CHOICE to accept our situation. We want to be parents more than anything.
Keep following along––it turns out our journey is just beginning!