How Poetry Helped Me Grieve Infertility

I am 39 years old. My husband and I have lived with unexplained infertility for over 11 years. In that time, we have waited and grieved too many times to count. We became parents through adoption seven years ago. (Read Our Adoption Story.) Our love for our son has overflowed since we first met the woman who held him.

Grieve Infertility

There’s never any sense that we’ve missed out on the best or most realistic parts of parenthood because we’ve adopted. Our bond of love is strong and so are the day to day challenges.

And yet even after all this time, hope for a pregnancy remains. I love the blossoming round bellies of pregnant women. I love what birth and the womb represent physically as well as metaphorically. For many years I have longed to feel these truths in a deeply experiential way.

Adoption Poetry

Many years ago, my husband bought me a necklace resembling a locket. It reveals a message I have pondered and treasured for a long time:

I carry your heart in my heart.

This phrase is based on the most beautiful poem by E.E. Cummings called “I Carry Your Heart with Me.” It has brought me great comfort during the dark and lonely times that happen when you grieve infertility. It speaks of a profound kind of intimacy. One that could be reserved for God alone. A kind that is unconditional. One that is satisfied, but wanting. To me it tells of a bond that is possible between lovers, or sisters, or a mother and her adopted child.

I carry your heart with me (I carry it in

my heart) I am never without it (anywhere

I go you go, my dear; and whatever is done

by only me is your doing, my darling)

I fear

no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) I want

no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

 

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)

Another poem I love is by Fleur Conkling Heyliger. I have it printed in my son’s life book. It’s a poem that helped usher in hope and healing where only desperation and barrenness existed.

Not flesh of my flesh

Nor bone of my bone

but still Miraculously my own.

Never forget for a single minute

You did not grow under my heart

but in it.

I wondered if my time would ever come. And whether my grief and longing would ever subside. It has waned over the years. But it’s been work. It’s been up and down. It’s not just time that has brought healing. It’s been reaching for meaning. Reaching for love wherever I find it. And choosing to carry it wherever I go.

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