I really wanted to have children. I spent the second half of my twenties mulling it over, convincing myself and my husband. I spent the first half of my thirties consumed by making it a reality.
PCOS. Anovulation. Clomid. IUI. IVF.
Until I finally got pregnant just to lose the baby. Just to hold a tiny fetus in my arms long enough to say mommy and daddy love you.
Would have loved you.
I’d like to say I handled it all with grace, but I’d be lying. I obsessed, I wallowed, I envied. I asked why me. I resented the unfairness of it all. I cried. And then I cried some more.
At the time, nothing anyone said helped. Not the advice to just enjoy my life while waiting patiently. Not the promises that eventually it would work out. At the time I didn’t think there was anything anyone could have said.
But in hindsight…
After becoming a mother and being a mother. After thinking about what I want my daughters to know if they inherit my health conditions.
When I hit my rock bottom – when I was carrying my baby’s ashes in a small black box – I didn’t need more reassurances that one day my dream would come true. What I needed to know was that even if this was the closest I ever got to motherhood, I would still be ok. That in our motherhood-glorifying society a woman can lead a fulfilling life without bearing children.
What I needed to hear was this:
Your worth as a human being is not related to your body’s ability to produce a child.
You don’t owe anyone a baby. Not yourself, not your husband, not your parents, not your husband’s parents. Not the world.
You are strong for trying. For letting your arms be bruised from needles. For letting your mind go blurry from hormones. For letting go of the expectation to make a baby in private, with romance, in candle light.
For spreading your legs to a different stranger every day.
For enduring the humiliation, the embarrassment.
For laughing at carrying your husband’s sperm in a cup even when you want to cry.
For being happy that your husband is the healthy one, that it’s you and not him carrying the guilt.
For dreaming the same dream every night. Of the smiling child with your husband’s nose and your own eyes.
You are strong for all that and we will stand by you for as long as you need us to. We will forgive you for your mood swings. We will care for you when you are on bed rest. We will cry with you over the ball of cells that stopped dividing on day 7.
But we also want you to know that it’s alright to stop, it’s alright to not do this anymore, it’s alright to move on. When your mind and body tell you it’s time, it’s alright to let go.
It doesn’t mean you are weak. It doesn’t mean you are a quitter.
It means you are strong enough to work through the grief. It means there is something else in store for you.
This is not going to make or break your life. It feels like it will, but it won’t. There can be more to life than motherhood. There is happiness beyond bundles of joy and blue and pink teddy bears. And if it comes to that, we will help you find that happiness.
We are here for you. You are enough.
You will be happy again. Regardless.
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