Never, Never, Never, Never Give Up

Last week my friend had a baby boy. He is a healthy eight pounds with pink cheeks and a soft bald head. He is her first, and likely her last. When I saw the grainy cell phone photo of him in his yellow duckling cap, I found myself wiping away tears. She is one of my oldest friends. Somewhere I have photos of us in our Brownies uniforms and at our kindergarten graduation.

While this is certainly a happy occasion, none of this sounds especially unusual. Except it is.

My friend and her husband have been waiting for this day for fourteen years. She knew when she was a teen that she’d have trouble conceiving. So they began trying almost as soon as they got married. There were four or five rounds of in vitro treatments involving countless shots, pills, doctor’s appointments, sonograms, and monitoring, not to mention the accompanying nausea, headaches, bloating, hot flashes and general crankiness. I’m barely scratching the surface. Then there was the emotional toll every time the tests came back negative, every time someone she knew accidentally got pregnant or had sex once and got pregnant or, worse, tried for six months without getting pregnant and became inconsolable.

Many times I wondered, why? Why continue to put yourself through this? I would see how terrible she would feel and want her to save herself from the anguish. I would almost wish it for her, if that makes sense It’s okay to move on. It’s okay to say that this dream isn’t going to come true. It’s what I would have done. Fourteen years is a long time. I didn’t understand it.

Ah, but I do. And it wasn’t until I saw that baby’s photo that I realized it. Having a baby despite the odds was her dream and having my novel published despite the odds is mine.  You know, sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. I have been waiting for my novel to be published. I have spent almost as many years as she writing and revising, combing for agents, revising more, workshopping, revising some more, calling my agent, calling my agent, calling my agent. (Hallooo?) Like my friend, I’ve taken breaks, but I always come back because it’s my dream.

I’m sorry that I only now realized what an inspiration she is. Churchill said, “Never, never, never, never give up.” And she didn’t. She persisted and persevered because she believed. She has encouraged me to do the same.

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4 comments

  1. Wow. That last paragraph–and this whole piece–put chills up and down my spine. Beautifully written and very well done.

    Infertility is such a difficult issue. I’m so glad your friend has finally found the happiness she was seeking. My husband and I had infertility issues for a few years. The one thing that helped me push through it was my mother’s steady guidance. She said, “Don’t you worry, Maura. One way or the other, there will be a baby for you.” I’d say, “How do you know?” She’d answer, “Because you want it so badly.” She helped me remember that we had all kinds of options, including adoption and fostering. So she was right, and now I’m a mother of two boys who look just like my husband and act exactly like me.

    I guess that’s my advice to you: Don’t you worry. One way or the other, your novel will get the attention it deserves. There are so many more publishing options now, and so many ways to bring attention to your writing. Just stick with it and stick with it. Change agents if you have to. But one way or the other, you’ll get there.

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  2. Thank you so much, Maura. I know you’re right, but it’s so nice to hear it. I’ve realized that writing, much like infertility issues, can be a lonely road. Disappointment abounds. When I feel down about it, I’ll think of you and my friend who persevered. It means a great deal to have people behind me, cheering me on.

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  3. What an incredible tribute to your friend, and to the incredible challenge of perserverance, Jacquelin. I was already welling up reading up about The Gentle Barn, so this one put me officially to tears.

    We all have things we wish, more than any other things. I think it is those wishes, those goals, that make us who we are, so holding them dear, no matter what, is simply survival, and more so, preservation.

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