I remember it like it was yesterday.
The death of my dream.
I stood there alone in my bathroom, holding the stick in my hand. Trying so hard to be hopeful, but that tiny bit of hope was there. It seemed like a lost cause. Why was I doing this to myself? Again. But what if this was the month?
I couldn't even bring myself to utter the words.
I looked at the clock.
It was time.
I took a deep breath in and held it until my lungs burned.
Tears burned as they rolled down my cheeks. Sobs choked me. I couldn't breathe. The only thing I wanted was to be a Mommy. I didn't want money. I didn't want to be famous. I just wanted to get pregnant and feel that little baby kick inside my womb.
Fast forward five years…
Walking down the bread aisle of the grocery store I stopped and waited for the bread guy to finish stocking the shelf. He looked over his shoulder at me and said, “WHOA! You do know how that happens, right?”
I was trying to be brave taking my 3 littles and my pregnant self to the grocery store. I had everyone contained and they were being rockstars. He continued making comments about how my hands were full and how we really needed to invest in some form of birth control.
I smiled and nodded, thankful the kids were too young to understand what this stranger had said about us.
The Questions Never End
“Are you done having children?”
“Is she your last one?”
“You're done, right?”
I get asked these questions a lot.
Usually, they are coupled with “You have your hands full.” That doesn't bother me quite as much. I know my children are a blessing. I remember the pain of not having them.
But honestly, it's no one's business how many children we want to add to our family. It shouldn't matter whether we have one child or twenty children as long as they are all loved and cared for.
Why is everyone interested your sex life? If you have more than two children you get these questions:
“You do know how that happens, right?”
“Do we need to get you condoms for Christmas?”
No joke. People get bold. Remember that guy who stocks bread at the grocery store? I was shopping at a clothing store with the kids and a lady looked at me, shook her head, and told me I need to get out more. At the outlet mall a mom and her daughter stared and pointed.
I don't know whether to be embarrassed, upset or just smile and laugh.
We aren't a three-ring circus.
Actually, we never thought we could have children. Yes, there is always adoption. Always. But after three years of marriage and no pregnancies, we decided not to use any form of birth control and see what would happen.
Only nothing happened.
I only knew of friends who got pregnant quickly or by accident. This was new territory for me. Was I the only one? Each year at my annual appointment they never seemed concerned. Everything was normal. But it wasn't.
Not for me.
With each passing month, my heart sank a little more and my life-long dream of having children died a bit. The emotional roller coaster was taxing. Not only on me but also on my marriage. Each month was a letdown. Each month I wondered what I did wrong. Why was I broken? Why was God silent? Didn't He hear my cries? I pleaded for a child of my own but those prayers seemed to land on deaf ears.
I pray that my friends back then would tell you that I loved them well. Sometimes it hurt, but it wasn't about me. As one of the ladies without children, I was able to serve my friends. I was able to attend birthday parties, hang out at a moments notice, wait with friends in the emergency room until their husband could make it, and show up anytime they needed me. I pray I did that well.
For four years this went on. I gave up. I did. It was a long four years of dodging the “So, when are you going to start having babies?” question. Eventually, my answer was, “We don't want children. I'll just keep being a nanny and play with other people's children. Then I get to send them home.” Which was half true, but also heart-wrenching.
My monthly cycle was late. Late was normal, but I always set two dates. One date was when I was supposed to start, and the second date was the date I would take a pregnancy test. If I reached that date. I was at the second date. I didn't know what to do. I was scared, nervous, giddy at the possibility.
I couldn't get my hopes up. Not again. I'd been down this road before. Not again.
But it was positive.
I could not believe it. Right there in front of me was a positive pregnancy test. I was shocked and ecstatic. There was no time for cute littles reveals. I had to show my husband. Right then.
The baby that I prayed for. The baby that I yearned to hold in my arms. The baby that made me a Mommy. That baby was in my womb.
Now we have four little blessings. Our house is loud. It's crazy. It can be overwhelming. It's full of love. I wouldn't trade it for the world.
If you are struggling with infertility, I pray that your story ends like mine, but I know that it may not. Regardless, know that even though it feels like God doesn't hear your prayers, He does. He hears your silent cries.
So when you ask, “Are you done?”, I don't know what to say. I wasn't for sure we would ever start. Part of me wants to have all the babies. Then I remember the events of the day and wonder how we could ever have more.
Ask These Questions Instead
1. Ask her to coffee. Keep gift cards to coffee shops handy and give those to the mamas you see gathering their littles. I know she would appreciate it.
2. Ask her about her children. Talk about the blessing that children are. Maybe it's a Mom who has one child and for reasons known only to her, she and her husband decided not to have more children. That question hurts her too.
3. Ask her how she's doing. She might really be struggling but feels like she has to keep up a strong front. It hurts to admit the death of a dream. Ask questions that will get to the heart of the matter.
4. Ask her if she is part of a community. Maybe ask her to join a local Bible Study Group, your small group at church, a local Mom's playgroup. It can be overwhelming to take a handful of littles out into public. Small groups are usually more manageable.
5. Ask her if you can be her friend. Everyone longs for community. People to do life together with. Extend the community to others that you want for yourself.
Let's put that question to rest. No one really knows the answer anyway. There are lots of people who thought they were finished but found themselves changing diapers again YEARS later.