Updated: Aug 5
I was at a party and innocently asked a new-ish friend if any kids were in their future. She immediately shared that something had gone wrong with a previous pregnancy. She happened to be the host of the party, and as she fast and furiously sliced up cheese for her guests I quickly realized the topic was a raw one.
In a quiet moment between just the two of us I said to her, “Honey, if you want to be a mom. You will be a mom one day.” Tears immediately came to the surface of her eyes and she wiped them away immediately, turning to perform her hosting duties.
I understood, and from that moment on my heart was tender to her world.
My own journey has been one of infertility struggles. I know the pain of taking negative pregnancy test after test and the discouragement that accompanies it. It seemed that it was always in front of me as I traveled to the fertility clinic mid-cycle to see if I had any follicles developing, returning the next day and the next (all of this in Chicago traffic, mind you). Then two weeks later taking a pregnancy test, hoping, hoping, hoping it would have a plus sign and instead being disappointed and immediately comforting myself (coping, really) with the fact that hey, at least I can have a glass of wine tonight.
I know how the inability to achieve a pregnancy can take over your entire life and thought patterns and how you look at (seemingly) EVERY OTHER COUPLE and see that THEY got pregnant and sometimes got pregnant even again before you even had one single child.
We went through fertility treatments. I know the whole drill. The poking and prodding, pain sometimes (I will add I have a hilarious valium story that got me through that one procedure where they shoot dye up your tubes. I guarantee there is still a nurse at Northwestern who talks about that one loopy blonde with short hair.) Anyway.
Dear ones, I come from a been there, done that perspective. Coming out on the other side, I think I want you to know these few things:
First, you are not alone in your struggles. I went through it. I know much of what you are feeling. I know all of the appointments. I know how you look at other couples with kids and wonder if they know how blessed they are. I especially know the great big gulp you swallow when you either congratulate a friend on her pregnancy news, attend a baby shower, or go to visit her newborn.
Second, I don’t dare give much advice, but if I were to allow myself to share one thing it is this: keep yourself busy. You only do yourself harm by focusing solely on this goal of pregnancy. Get out of your own head. I actually started grad school in the midst of my infertility struggles, and it was the best thing I did. And I was ready to begin Spanish class and learn to play the guitar - I had a whole host of things I knew would be good to keep me occupied and busy.
I also want to share that you will need to know what your own emotional boundaries are. For a good long while I acted - it really was acting - so happy when other friends would share their pregnancy news or would invite me over to meet their new baby. I remember one particular moment when somebody shared that - poof, just like that - they were pregnant. We had been trying for a year. The news was shared in front of a large group of people in our condo. I excused myself to go the kitchen, for it had felt like I suddenly couldn’t breathe. I don’t remember how I got through that night, or the next dozen events I faked my happy smile through.
Eventually I realized I didn’t need to. At least to the extent that I had been. I DID still go and meet my friend’s newborn baby in Evanston and deliver a meal after this realization. When she asked if I wanted to hold him, I politely declined. I just knew I couldn’t. And then - as I left her condo and waited for the elevator, instead of stuffing down my feelings I acknowledged them. I remember praying, “God, that was hard. My heart HURTS.” It felt good to finally be real.
And, as you’ve probably already noticed, people will say stupid, stupid things. One of many I remember was a family member saying we apparently still hadn’t “figured it out.” Ummm, thanks.
The biggest thing I want to share with you is exactly what I shared with my new friend that one December evening:
Honey, if you want to become a mom, you will become a mom.
I can’t at all begin to guarantee how that will happen, but in all of my many years of meeting hundreds and hundreds of women, do you know how many times I’ve met somebody who wanted to be a mom and never became a mom? One. Only one.
For all the rest, it happened for them. For many, via pregnancy….after time….after fertility treatments. For many, via adoption.
That mama’s heart is already burning inside of you. I know you. You will not let that fire die.
Keep on going to those appointments, acknowledge that your heart is very tender and treat it as such, and head towards hope. Whatever that looks like for your own unique situation.
I love you and I see you and I’m praying for you from Chicagoland.
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