“Why don’t you have kids?”
(Inner Monologue) First of all, this is an obnoxious question on its own. Come closer so I can slap you. Would you like me to truly answer your question? Here, let me hold your baby while I explain that I’ve been struggling to keep it together for years while women I love around me are having babies. It’s even better when you give me the great advice to just “stop stressing about it”, or, better yet, “take your time, they’re a lot of work”. What!?? They don’t arrive well mannered and proper? Shut the front door.
Ahh. So much vinegar. Let’s pull it back a bit.
I am not interested in sharing intimate details of our fertility story, but I am interested in sharing how hard it is to wait for the one thing you’ve waited for your entire life. I have many beautiful friends with beautiful babies, and while I am so genuinely happy for them, I am grieving. I am grieving what should be, what could be, and what almost was. As friends move on with their third pregnancy since we began trying for a baby, I find myself struggling to keep it together with my inner battles. I get feisty. I get weepy. I feel ashamed of being upset.
I pray. A lot. I pray for patience, trust, and love. I read scripture. I read stories about perseverance. I listen to success stories. I question my faith. I question myself. I do yoga. I eat healthy. I lost 40 pounds. I also pin baby clothes, baby pictures, and baby food an embarrassing amount on Pinterest. My husband has been incredible. If anything, the journey to starting a family has proven to me that I married an amazing future daddy.
Some days I look around my house and I think it’s a good thing we’re not expecting because I have a list of chores to do around here, but I know it’s a defense mechanism. The truth is that I would give birth on the back porch if I had to.
I also know that going to follow up appointments at an OB/GYN can feel torturous. Please sit in a waiting room with pregnant women while you wait to receive more devastating news. Am I coming across cynical? I think so. I think this is real life. Let’s be honest, when my baby arrives, I will know without a shadow of doubt that God had a plan the entire time. It’s how to hold myself up during that planning that gets tricky.
How does it feel to struggle with fertility? Nobody asks me. I think we’re afraid to start the conversation. I know it’s uncomfortable for people. I know that friends who have leaned on me for their pregnancies don’t want me to feel sad. I know it’s not an easy conversation. I am aware that some moms feel guilt over their friends who are struggling. I get it. So, I’d like to go ahead and share with you what it really feels like for me. It feels like motherhood is an elite and exclusive club. I can’t obtain a membership, but I am allowed to observe and parallel play. I witness that you moms get to experience the highest level of love that a human can feel. I know it’s hard. I know it can be lonely. Which is why I’ve been there for you every step of the way. But let’s not forget our dear friends who cry on expected due dates, anniversaries of losses, news of being baron, etc. Let’s maybe ask just one question, and let that question be, “Will you let me help you?”
My friends’ babies heal me. They allow me to love on them and cherish them as a godmother, an aunt, and friend. Sometimes I go through seasons where I have to pull away, but it’s not you or your baby. It’s me acknowledging that when I cannot be truly happy, I need to step back and repeat my prayers and find inner strength. That may mean that I can’t attend your baby shower. But please don’t isolate me. Please don’t walk on eggshells. I do want to hear about your life—but please mix in the good with the bad. I cannot be your sounding board on only the bad days. That will push me away. Please be mindful to whom you complain about your pregnancy. I would gladly parade around town with stretch marks on my FACE if it meant I was carrying my baby to delivery.
As I get ready to head to bed, I know God is cradling many angel babies tonight. He is breathing life into their souls for eternity. These are babies that were prayed over for years, waited on faithfully and celebrated from day one. And these are babies that may have left earth, but they’ll never leave the momma. So many heartbroken friends have confided in me their heart-shredding stories of loss and pain. Many mothers I know are childless. That’s why I wrote this. We’re not alone and we shouldn’t treat the road to fertility as something we should be ashamed about. It’s okay if we get sad. It’s okay if we can’t be happy for someone on a bad day. It’s okay if we’re human and the struggle to remain faithful to God’s plan seems like a punishment.
I will say a prayer for you tonight, you beautiful, grieving mommy. Don’t lose hope. Keep your faith. If you become cynical and angry, just breathe. TRUST. Don’t give up. DO not abandon ship. Don’t close yourself off. Know your limitations. And stop shutting the door on support and help.
Next time someone asks me, “Why don’t you have kids?” I am going to reply with, “I’ll know that answer one day soon.” And then I’ll stuff my face with some chocolate, kick my feet up, and start pinning homemade baby food I’ll never make.