*I want to preface this post by admitting I have written and re-written the words within this space, battled fear and insecurity, and decided finally it was time to talk about it. Not just for me, but for so many women, women who I love and women whose names and faces I wouldn’t recognize, but whose hearts I know all too well.
The question comes up casually, frequently in conversations at work, with acquaintances, even with complete strangers.
Instantly, the words draw knots into my stomach and a lump into my throat. I dread answering. Every. Single. Time.
And I know it comes from a place of kindness and not malice, a place of genuine curiosity, even a place of excitement about the potential.
“When are you going to start a family?”
Eight words, innocently enough, can ignite an infinite number of feelings.
It’s no secret that I’ve found inspiration in motherhood this year. Watching two of my sisters transform in every sense of the word has caused something to shift in my heart and made me appreciate now more than ever the love my own mother poured into our family for our entire lives.
Motherhood is an ever endearing act of selflessness, of protection, of guidance, of love. It is, to the very core, such a precious gift. A gift many woman long for. A gift not always easily given. I’m not going to give you the statistics because they’re out there, you can find them so easily. Instead, I’m going to get down to the heart of the matter. The heart of why that question has stopped me and many other women in our tracks.
The answer to that question is I don’t know. I don’t know when God is going to call me to Motherhood. All I know is this: All I’ve ever wanted is to be a mother.
For those who wait hopefully, expectantly, the ones who, like me and many others like us, are filled with a consuming love for a child who has yet to exist…even in this season I have hope. I am choosing hope because I believe in a God who is bigger than the unknown. Bigger than this season of anxious anticipation. Bigger than infertility. Bigger than loss. Bigger than our fears.
Yesterday was Mother’s Day, so in honor of that, I’m sharing an essay from one of my dearest friends, Ashley, who has been brave enough to share her story with us today. She, along with four other women who are also my close friends, have dealt with the waiting, the diagnosis of infertility, miscarriage, the loss of hope. Above all else, we want you to know that if you’ve experienced these things, you’re not alone in this season.
“Tomorrow is my birthday. I’ll be 29. My last year in my 20’s and then I think I will officially feel like a grown-up, even though I’ve been one for quite some time now. I’ve been married almost 5 years, I graduated from college 6 years ago. The party bus has driven past my house and left me in my pj’s watching Scandal with a glass of wine many Thirsty Thursday (that’s a thing, right?) nights over. I am an adult.
Tomorrow is my birthday. I’m so blessed to be able to spend it with coworkers who have turned into soul mates, a husband whom I adore and who kinda likes me, too, and I’m sure the many phone calls I’ll get from family and friends. We’ll celebrate this weekend with a huge group dinner at a great restaurant in a city I love to live in, surrounded by small, locally owned shops whose merchandise I have procured on many a trip. I’ll be wearing the dress my mom bought me (well, I bought it and told her it was my birthday present from her…thank you VERY much) and it will feel like spring with 82 degree temperatures and skies so clear and a cool spring night chill that will remind me how much I love being in a southern state.
Tomorrow is my birthday. And tomorrow I will be happy.
But today…. today I am heartbroken. Today I found out that, once again, I will not become a mother. I’ve been in a daze all day today, distracting myself by working an 11 hour day, holding off taking even a bathroom break because it will force me to be alone with my thoughts.
Two years ago we decided to get pregnant. We thought about it, very hard. We wanted to make sure we were ready, even though we’ve heard the old adage that you never truly are. We started trying around the same time that some of our other friends did. They got pregnant right away. We didn’t.
When you struggle with fertility you feel like the only one in class not invited to the birthday party. In the movie “Twister”, Helen Hunt’s character says, “You’ve never seen it miss this house, and miss that house, and come after you”. That’s what infertility feels like in a world where accidental pregnancy is flaunted in a one-hour reality show with 16 year-olds on MTV.
Every pregnancy announcement is personal and every baby shower is a kick in the ovaries. You say congratulations and for your friends you really are truly excited for them. You show up with gifts and even throw the showers. You smile and play hostess and laugh over who can change a baby’s diaper the fastest but inside you are breaking. You are envious of what they have that you can’t. And when you go through a procedure with a 20% success rate to try to get pregnant and the day before your birthday it fails, you feel like your body is failing you.
What they don’t tell you before you go through an IUI (intrauterine insemination), but should probably go without saying, is that for the two weeks you wait between insemination and either starting your period or having a positive pregnancy test, you have to act like you’re pregnant. No alcohol, only certain medications, in the words of the nurse who performed the procedure, “For all intents and purposes, you are pregnant”. So when it doesn’t work, even though you know the odds, it feels like you are mourning the loss of something. Something you never even had. You keep reminding yourself, this is no different than every month for the past 2 years, but it feels so different. It feels bigger. It hurts deeper.
My liberal, feminist mind will tell you that only you can complete you. You are the one person who can make you happy. And if you can’t be happy with yourself, you will be happy with no one. And I believe that to be true. It took me a while to feel that way and once I did I was ready to meet my husband, who is my favorite person and my entire world. But being a mother will make me whole. Being a mother will bring me joy that nothing else can.
Tomorrow is my birthday. And this month wasn’t our month. Maybe it will be next month, or maybe God has another plan for us. But for my birthday I want women to know that they are not alone.
You are not the only one going through this.
You are not the one house hit by the tornado when all the others were spared the damage.
You are not damaged.
Your day will come, just as mine will. I know we will be incredible parents. And I know that our child will be loved. And I know our child will be wanted. So desperately wanted.”