Something that anyone who has gone through infertility will tell you is that there seems to be this weird curse that goes along with it. I picture it kind of like the raincloud above Eeyore’s head just following him wherever he goes. But instead of a stormy raincloud, it is pregnant women and babies. Every aisle I’d turn down in Meijer I’d find a beautiful pregnant woman with her round belly. Every conversation I’d have at work would turn into a conversation about pregnancies or babies or something sad and uncomfortable for me. Everytime I logged onto facebook, there was another grainy ultrasound photo and the big “We’re pregnant!” announcement. It was like my infertility was always right in front of my face, tormenting me, reminding me of how my body was not doing this one simple thing that it was designed to do.
The reality of this curse is that it’s all in my head. Before I knew this was the road we’d go down, there were just as many babies at Wal-Mart and shower invitations in my mailbox and conversations about giving birth. But back then, they were joyful and exciting for me and gave me hope. But once you go through something like infertility you have a completely different lens that you look through life in.
Infertility was initially very lonely and isolating for me but once I started being more open about our struggles, people came out of the woodwork sharing their own journeys of infertility, miscarriage, loss, adoption, fostering, decisions to embrace childlessness. I hate admitting that it made me feel better to know that motherhood was not so easy for everyone, but it did. I felt a camaraderie with these women who were brave enough to share their stories and struggles. And I realized how much suffering goes on in secret, behind closed doors.
In our first adoption class, I looked around the room at the faces of the women there. Some were older, some were young. There were different races, ethnicities and religions represented. Some looked like women I would have been friends with and others reminded me of co-workers or neighbors of mine. Some had gone through infertility and others had unsuccessful attempts to carry babies to term. Some had tried for years and others for a shorter time. But we all had this in common: We all yearned to be mothers, and we all had suffered in the journey to become one. As we briefly shared our stories, I looked around and saw many eyes brimming with tears. The pain was so very real and for that moment, I felt very connected to these women.
I recently had a co-worker reach out to me after learning we were going to adopt. I had no idea that her story had included such great losses and sorrow upon sorrow. Here was this woman I saw all the time at work and I had no idea of the pain she was going through! It reminded me, again, that there are women everywhere - in my church, working in my building, in front of me in the checkout line – that are longing to be mothers.
Women whose hearts break all over again when yet another person asks them that awful question: “So when are you going to have kids?”
Women who experience the heart-wrenching due date of the baby they had so wanted, but lost.
Women who stay home from church on Mother’s Day because it’s just too painful to watch all the mothers come to the front of the sanctuary to be honored by the pastor.
Women who can’t even remember the last day they’ve had that hasn’t included tears.
Women who awkwardly sit in a waiting room full of expectant women, just to get the news from their doctor that the tests didn’t come back good.
Women who have to listen to their pregnant friends complain about morning sickness or fatigue or how fat they feel… when all they would give is to have morning sickness or clothes that no longer fit.
Women who have scrimped and saved to afford a procedure that costs thousands of dollars… only to have it fail… and their money and hope gone along with it.
Women who at any given moment, are just seconds away from tears, because life lately is just too overwhelming and painful.
Women who have spent all month being poked and prodded with needles and tests and have put so much time into charting every temperature and symptom, only to get another negative pregnancy test.
Women who haven’t been able to attend a baby shower in months because the thought of stepping foot inside a Babies R Us to buy a gift, let alone watching the guest-of-honor open tiny onesies and blankets is just too much.
Women who find out the country they’ve been waiting to adopt a child from has suddenly halted adoptions.
Women who have finally begin to let themselves dream that this pregnancy will be the one that is successful, only to have another little baby to mourn.
Women who fight back tears when they find out the news that their little sister is pregnant and that it was unplanned.
Women who have dreamed all their life about becoming a mother and wonder if all their hopes and dreams and wishes have just been in vain.
While nothing can take away the pain of childlessness when you desperately want a child, sometimes it is comforting to know that there are others out there that are suffering too. I am posting this in hopes that some women – my sisters in suffering – will read this and know that they aren’t alone.