A romantic relationship is built on the answers to some very important questions. Questions like, “Where do you see this going?” cement for us whether a certain person is the one. Yet there may be a point when you have to turn to your chosen one and ask, “Where do you see this going if it’s just you and me?”
When we ask questions like this we are trying to determine if this person shares your dreams for the future. It’s an opportunity to map out the building blocks for a life together and there’s one building block in particular that you are really curious about: Do you want to have kids?
In the blueprints of a relationship, the kid question is often a cornerstone of the foundation. Having different visions for this piece can potentially weaken the structure that you are trying to build upon. It’s thrilling when you and your love find common ground. You both want kids and you both share a vision for when children will enter your life. So, what happens when, after all of your careful planning, you aren’t able to lay that cornerstone?
If you’ve experienced a loss or have faced infertility, then you know these questions arise when so much of your life’s foundation has already been laid. Your missing children are the missing piece. Can this life you once dreamed of exist without this cornerstone or will everything you’ve worked to build just collapse?
Will you wonder whether this is another effect of the loss you’ve endured? The possibility that you and your partner aren’t strong enough to continue on in a life without children is another potential loss to consider. It seems like you built a life on a weak foundation. You feel like a failure. I know I did.
Related: It’s About Relationship
My husband and I had been together for 12 years when we watched our dreams of family collapse. After two miscarriages and the stillbirth of our daughter, we had no idea if our family would ever look the way we had envisioned.
Instead of looking at a growing family, I found myself looking at this man I had so carefully chosen and reevaluating my decision. The plans we had made seemed to depend on having children. So, if we didn’t end up having any, then what were we doing? And, were we going to attempt this uncertain life together?
Answering those questions was not easy. It required a lot of building ourselves up and knocking down our former expectations to rebuild who we were as a couple. Hours of therapy and talking and rediscovering ourselves resulted in a renovated relationship that boasted many upgrades but still featured the flaws that represented our history.
After loss and infertility, you and your partner have to go back to the drawing board to make some decisions. It’s possible that you both want to keep building your dreams on the foundation you have. Maybe you want to roll up the plans you drew and dare to dream of a new life together. It could be that you want to fathom a life where you dream differently. Maybe you don’t want new dreams, and that’s okay, but life has a way of bringing them anyway.
Related: The Snowball Effect of Loss
Whatever you dream, and with whomever you dream it, your dreams after loss and infertility will not come easy. If you have ever had to remodel your family dreams, you know the amount of hope and love that is required to keep them standing.
What kind of life have you built for yourself after loss?
Rachel Whalen is a mother, wife, and Kindergarten teacher from Barre, Vermont. Her life’s work is to keep the memory of her daughter, Dorothy, alive through words both spoken and written. Rachel shares her family’s journey through loss and all that has come after on her blog: An Unexpected Family Outing.