When It’s Not The Ending They Expected

Joseph Campbell

Friday 2/5 – Unexpected Ending Drama

“How’s the baby….?”

The question hung in the air Friday afternoon. My stomach clenched.

“There was no baby…” I said quietly.

“No baby?? That can’t be…the response, it was so good. I didn’t see you again…”

Tears burned in my eyes. I shook my head hard. I forced myself to be matter of fact.  “No baby,” I told the acupuncturist — whom I’d last seen more than six years ago. He and my able team at the Stanford Medical Center had once helped me and my husband to create perfect embryos.  My uterine lining, according to the ultrasounds after acupuncture was rich, fertile, ready to receive.

The ending wasn’t what any of us expected.

Years later and he still remembers. It wasn’t just me caught sideways.

I’d thought of seeing Dr. Needles again for health issues in the years since — issues totally unrelated to my infertility, but I couldn’t bring myself to go back to his office on the leafy outer ring of the campus. Until now. This time a nagging respiratory infection inflaming my asthma was my primary concern.

Pumped up on steroids for more than a week (and feeling volatile consequently), I turned my car down the street to the low-slung office building. I attempted a deep breath and pulled open the door. Beyond the reception desk down the hall were treatment rooms with cheerful skylights and peaceful music playing on a CD player. The table laying in the middle of the room held a comfortable pillow, a crisp smooth sheet over a cushioned tabletop. Nothing had changed. Not. one. thing. It was still more spa than clinical.

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The needles placed, the music played. The door closed quietly behind the doctor. Within minutes the tiny needles seemed to reach deep into my heart unlocking emotions, thoughts I fully believed until that point I’d mastered. Ghosts filled the room. Tears trickled slowly, steadily across my cheeks pooling in my ears as my head lay cushioned and confounded.  Back to the scene of such promise. I relented, let the emotions sweep through me, accepting the sadness. The release did more than open my lungs.

Upon returning home, full body sobs consumed me as I haltingly tried to describe the episode to Alex. Still more release.

Cathartic. Unexpected, certainly, but the experience underscored that there are reminders and reconciliations that go far beyond what we anticipate. It’s one thing for us to pick up the pieces, to put one foot in front of the other, but layer on the assumptions of others and there lie different sorts of stumbling blocks capable of tripping us up.

Further evidence came in observing an exchange on a forum discussion about Silent Sorority.

“I bought [Silent Sorority] for my mother and MIL so that they could better understand the situation. While reading, my mother was expecting the “happy ending” of [Pamela] adopting. I was just shaking my head at how she missed the point. [Pamela] is living childfree.)”

“I’d have been shaking my head too. My [husband] saw the title and asked ‘so she adopted?’ as if that was the one expected outcome.”

It’s not often we get an unfiltered window into other people’s thoughts about us, our actions, our lives. We have hunches, sure, but when you hear it spelled out it can be off-putting, jarring even. Expectations beyond our own cause us to remember, to review our decisions, to wonder how we ever put one foot in front of the other.

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Fortunately, I’m stronger now; my steps more certain, my path clear.

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6 thoughts on “When It’s Not The Ending They Expected

  1. Dawn

    *sigh* I don’t know that any of us get our story book endings. I think many of us think everyone ELSE gets it, and some probably do.

    The beauty of a good cry is that they almost always are cathartic.

  2. It’s not really the ending we expected either, is it? Glad the cry felt good, & I hope you’re feeling better now (in all respects!).

  3. lawrence claudia

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  4. Dorothy

    There was a good line for our sorority in the movie “Being Jane”. I won’t print it here as it would be a spoiler. :o)

  5. Hey PJ

    With you as you uncover another layer.

    Places, seasons, people……. they can all take you back to a time and effect you in a way that cannot be rationalised or understood. And in a way, it doesn’t need to be. It just needs to be done.

    But I would have to liked to be beside you in that moment. To hold your hand and share your tears. Supply the tissues and buy you a pretty chocolate.

    love B

  6. Diane

    Bodywork is great. It has a way of squeezing out the sadnesses one doesn’t know are still there. That was brave to go back to the same acupuncturist. But it was all for the good since it helped your respiratory distress so much. The tears are all for the good, too, but I think we here all know that. And I also am intrigued by the reactions to the book. I still, years later, have people ask why I didn’t “just” adopt. Your book has the best explanation of why one doesn’t “just” adopt as a resolution to infertility.

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