“You don’t know what it’s like,” she said, “you don’t have kids.”
She had no idea how those words stung, or maybe she did. She had no idea how badly I wanted her biting words to be untrue, or how hard I was striving toward the dream of becoming a mother.
I collected her cruel comment and added it to my repertoire of triggers for self-pity: When are you gonna start having kids? Have you tried (insert unsolicited well-meaning advice here)? Or It will happen when you least expect it.
She didn’t know about the nights my husband and I cried out to God between sobs. She didn’t know how I envied every pregnant body walking past me at the grocery store.
Every. Single. One.
She didn’t know how many days I came home just to burrow into bed because my feelings couldn’t find me in my sleep. She didn’t know how exhausting it was to maintain a happy facade day to day or how hard it was to feign excitement for yet another pregnancy announcement.
She didn’t know how many times I wondered, when will it be my turn?
She didn’t know how it tested my faith.
“Unexplained infertility” . . . that’s what the doctor called my silent struggle.
That was his conclusion after exams and procedures and hot tears of frustration and months spent on hormones that came with mood swings so bad, they could give a person whiplash. (My poor, sweet, unsuspecting husband . . .)
He framed his diagnosis in a hopeful tone, patted me on the shoulder, and left the room. I sat there for a moment in silence, soaking in the frigid sterility of the exam room, then mindlessly fumbled for my belongings and left.
I felt so fragile. One thought could send me spiraling into a darkness so deep I couldn’t find a way out. I tried to rely on God like a good Christian girl, but He was silent, so I became bitter. And I couldn’t talk about it because I was ashamed and embarrassed and scared because baring my scarlet letter would mean admitting to its truth.
I didn’t want it to be true.
I still don’t want it to be true.
Every morning I crawled out of my pit to go to work and my darkness followed me there.
You see, I worked in the land of babies and pregnant people. Yes, as if being called “infertile” wasn’t enough, I got to take care of other people’s kids for a living. A cruel form of torture indeed—constantly reminded of the very thing I desired most but would likely never happen for me.
Yes, folks, I was in a dark place.
But I couldn’t let myself wallow in self-pity, there was no room for that kind of thing.
After all, there were babies to love.
Fast forward about seven years from the time we decided we wanted to start our family. With support from my husband, family, friends, and our Heavenly Father (who is good even when I don’t feel good), I’ve risen above the dark cloud that encircled my life at one point.
Don’t get me wrong, that all-consuming darkness is still looming. Threatening that if I let my mind go back to that familiar place, I will find myself plunged deep into that cold and hopeless pit.
Please don’t feel sorry for me, that is not my intent in writing this. I write to bring awareness to a topic that few are willing or able to bring to light. If you are traveling your own journey of similar darkness, please know you are not alone.
One thing I love most about our Creator is His mission to make beauty from pain.
He moved Joe’s and my heart from a position of introspection and nursing our own wounds, to a place of redemption.
Our focus shifted to an outward gaze.
A view that opened our hearts and minds to be aware of drug addiction and how it is impacting the lives of families in our own backyard.
We dropped everything to become foster parents because once again . . . there were babies to love.
Not long after, we opened our home to two amazing little people who now know us as Mommy and Daddy.
Our story is still being written, and we haven’t abandoned hope. If there’s anything the past two years have taught us, it’s “where there is great love, there are always miracles.”
I still dream of experiencing every ounce of motherhood. I still long to know what it feels like to have life growing inside of me. I still want to know what a perfect embodiment of my love for my husband would look like. I still have names picked out for a girl and a boy.
I still wonder if they would have their daddy’s ocean eyes and his curls.
But here in the in-between, there are children living in so much brokenness. Children who need a safe place, a voice, a caring adult.
Children who aren’t so different from me because I’m a little bit broken too.
Right here and right now . . . there are babies to love.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:7, NIV).
Originally published on the author’s blog