I find compliments hard to accept. Perhaps it’s typically English to blush furiously whilst brushing them aside with measured self deprecation. Or perhaps this is just one element of social awkwardness that I’ve never quite managed to eschew. Regardless of how truly deserved, or otherwise, I feel the comments are, I’ll always react in the same fashion.

Lately I’ve been on the receiving end of some – to my absolutely certain mind – undeserved words of praise. Anything about being brave, or strong elicits genuine furious head shaking. I’m not any of those kinds of things. Simply because you’ve never faced the unique set of circumstances that life has currently thrown up for me doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t, or couldn’t, handle them with grace and fortitude too, should they arise for you. Perhaps even with more of those two virtuous qualities than I have demonstrated when behind closed doors, in the more private parts of my life. Indeed sometimes, if you could see me there, your words of praise might surely go un-uttered.

The compliment that’s made me stop and think, more than once indecent months, however, is the admiration of my acceptance of our infertility and the situation we’re in.

I can’t deny that’s true. Of course there has been plenty of questioning, plenty of anger and confusion. Last week alone saw many tearful phone calls and a consultation in a plush, private office where I worked my way steadily through almost an entire box of tissues.

But at the end of the day, non-acceptance has to be pretty self-limiting. There is is only so long that you can sit and wail “why me?” and “why has this happened?” Because, quite simply, most often there are no answers to be found. No number of tears, no depth of sadness will ever reverse the situations dished out by the fickle hand of fate. This isn’t the same as losing someone or something precious. It can’t be compared with grief in a traditional sense. In these types of circumstances, far better, surely, to focus energies on the practical solutions. Or possible solutions. Or alternatives. And be very grateful that these exist, of course, for true grief is an abyss of unequalled proportions, with no such practical options.

As I stop to think, I wonder what exactly the people who applaud my acceptance think I would otherwise be doing. Sitting and questioning over and over? Shouting loudly about the unfairness of it all? Sobbing each day and begging an unknown entity to tell me why?

What is the point in any of that? It won’t solve our infertility and it won’t make me feel any better either.

That doesn’t mean I don’t still sometimes wonder why things have happened this way for us. Or feel the familiar stabs of envy at others in the very position I would most like to be myself. Sometimes I feel light-headed with the longing for another child. But there is no logical alternative but to accept the situation as it currently is.

Perhaps it’s a skill I learned in my formative years. I was aged just four when parents sat me down to try to explain the concept of “forever” in relation to diabetes; To tell me that I would always have it. In a conversation that chokes my dad up even now when he recalls it, I asked simply “what, even when I’m a mummy?” They replied in the affirmative, and I said simply “Okay”.

I’m so grateful, to this day that no one ever raised the possibility of a cure with me. Back then it was common to promise that it was just “five years away”. The concept of a cure was totally lost to me though, and I didn’t consider it at all until around the time I went to University. I’m so glad that instead of clinging continuously to what would prove to be false hope, I was forced to accept the realities of life with a demanding chronic condition, always believing it would never go away. I can’t imagine how let down I would feel now, more than thirty years on, had I been promised a cure was imminent.

That’s what I’m also grateful that no one has promised that we’ll definitely have another child. I know that no genuine assurance of that is possible.

At the same time, though, I won’t lie down quietly without at least attempting to shape the outcome.

I can accept that we’re currently infertile. I can accept the possibility that we may not have any more children. But I’ll only work on accepting the actual reality of that if it happens. What I can’t accept is that we’re at the end of the road just yet.



2 Replies to “Acceptance”

  1. Do you remember talking about how your longing for another child wasn’t any less real and valid a feeling because you already have Thomas – well this is the flip side of the coin. Just because a random stranger might also handle infertility with grace and courage doesn’t mean that you are any the less because you are. Nor for that matter does bawling your eyes out in a plush office or in the comfort of your own home make you any less deserving of praise.
    Life is chucking spanners at you left right and centre and you are dealing with it without dissolving into a puddle of self pity and inaction and that is commendable. Don’t do yourself down :). ,!

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