By Kate Weldon LeBlanc
I recently had the pleasure of attending an open house at the Kurukulla Center for Tibetan Buddhist Studies in Medford, Massachusetts. In the backyard, Sean Gonzalez, the Center Director, showed us a beautiful shrine to Tara, a goddess revered in Tibetan Buddhism. He explained that they pray to Tara for help working through obstacles and for assistance with achieving something they want more quickly. I smiled when my sister-in-law quipped, “of course, go to a woman if you want something done fast and well!” But I also had tears in my eyes when I stood for a few moments in front of the statue of Tara, surrounded by many twinkling candles, as I thought about everyone struggling to become parents. Infertility jumps into my mind often and occasionally at unexpected times. I wished I had known about this lovely, sacred spot when we were still actively trying to conceive. It is not that I necessarily feel that it would have directly changed our journey, but I know it is a place that would have brought me peace, which was dearly needed during those difficult years.
One of my own infertility “rituals” was far less spiritual (and less healthy too). Right after our IVF transfers, I would buy and eat a sticky bun, coated in sugary cinnamon. I had read about it on a listserv and basically thought, well why not? Maybe it WOULD help the embryo “stick”, or maybe it would just be delicious. But at least it was something I could control and something that would make me happy, in a situation that otherwise was lacking on both of those fronts.
I certainly mean no disrespect by writing about a Buddha and a sticky bun in the same post. However, I actually do feel they have a connection. It can be empowering to complement the actual processes related to building your family–whether it is medical treatment and/or other complex paths to parenthood–with other supports. This may include (but is not limited to) worship, connecting with others who “get it”, or superstitions like mine. I’m not saying that you should immediately visit the Tara statue at Kurukulla (though they DO warmly welcome visitors!), but rather I am suggesting that you find anything (and everything) that brings you some measure of comfort. It helps!