The Tragedy in Connecticut

We all watched in horror as the news poured in from all available media portals revealing the terror that unfolded in the tiny town of Newtown, Connecticut. We learned that a madman had gone into an elementary school and taken the lives of young children and adults. The numbers and facts changed as the media struggled to get accurate information in the midst of this chaotic and tragic scene.

I cried as I watched images of our President and a 1st grade teacher from the school tearfully explains what had happened. President Obama said he was speaking as a parent when he made his initial remarks to address the nation. I found the words of Kaitlin Roig, a schoolteacher at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, especially compelling.

She described herding her 15 first graders into a tiny bathroom in her classroom. and barricading them there. Her classroom was next door to where the gunman was and she felt certain it would be the next room he entered if he was not stopped. The children obeyed her instructions to be quiet but naturally they needed to verbalize their reactions. Some tearfully expressed fears about not seeing their parents and missing Christmas. One young boy asked her to let him out because he knew Karate and he could stop the gunman. She explained as she sat there her instinct was to "react as a parent." She didn't want the sound of a gun firing to be the last thing they heard. She told them "she loved them all very much" and assured them "we will all be all right." When the police came to that bathroom door and knocked she demanded they slide their badges under the door and they did. She still would not open it. She told them if they were really the police they would have a key. Her desire to protect and parent these children remained strong until she was certain they were safe as the police officer used his key to unlock that door.

I thought about how powerful and unstoppable the parenting instinct is as I heard these words. I flashed back to my infertility and how strong my desire was to have a child and how I would repeatedly do anything in my power to make it a reality. There are many people who choose to remain child free. But for those of us who want to have children and continue to try or who already are parents the emotional bond we create with that child coupled with our desire to parent and protect them is indescribable. We will repeatedly undergo infertility treatment or enter the adoption process because of our need to parent. Those of you in the midst of your infertility journey have imagined being a parent and want desperately to have that opportunity making multiple sacrifices.

The loss of the lives of these young children is the loss of the future and the heart and souls for their families and loved ones that can never be replaced or forgotten. We all feel saddened, touched, and diminished by their losses. I remember the moment I first saw my daughter and held her. I was overwhelmed with a sense of love that I had never experienced or expected. I recall thinking I would do anything to protect her including risk my own life. I hope the bravery of the teachers, school staff, the police, and the strangers who were members of the response teams who tried to protect them can offer some measure of comfort and perhaps it contributed to saving other lives.

Tragedies like this often prompt us to look at our own personal circumstances with new insight, intensity, and perspective. Perhaps it will trigger some of us to be more determined to make changes in our lives and relationships in ways we contemplated but never acted on in the past.

In the days ahead as the families and friends of those who were lost will find their shock evolve into grief and a host of emotions trying to understand the incomprehensible tragedy that has befallen them and their loved ones. I am certain as a nation and as individuals we will offer our prayers and rally to offer support in our own meaningful ways. Continue to remember them, keep them in your thoughts and wrap your hearts around them. They will undoubtedly need it in the days that lie ahead.

Iris Waichler, MSW,LCSW, has a Master's Degree in Social Work and has been a licensed clinical social worker for over 30 years. She has done workshops, individual, and group counseling with people experiencing infertility. Ms. Waichler is the author of the award winning Riding the Infertility Roller Coaster: A Guide to Educate and Inspire. She currently writes freelance infertility and health related articles.

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