I remember worrying that the feeling wouldn’t come. That I’d never feel excited to become a mom. When people asked if we wanted kids, I always answered yes.

Because it was true. I did want kids. I never pictured my life without them. This felt easy to say our first year of marriage because I assumed the desire to get pregnant would come. But it didn’t grow quickly, it wasn’t knocking on my heart in the way I thought it should.

Particularly in the way I saw it happening for other women around me.

I can still remember trembling in the bathroom, holding a pregnancy test I thought was positive, and feeling an incredible weight of fear. No joy, just fear. Even writing that sentence brings back so much shame. Because we would have been fine. We would have made it work. We would have been delighted.

But I wasn’t ready. It wasn’t something I wanted. If I’m being completely honest, I saw everything I hoped to do and accomplish flash before my eyes and be gone in an instant. Saying that out loud still stings.

I remember tripping over boxes of clothes trying to find my husband. I wasn’t afraid of his reaction, I knew he’d be overjoyed. I was afraid of myself and the way this moment made me feel.

I was afraid of how much grief, sadness, and fear entered my heart instead of praise.

I felt shame because I had walked through so many miscarriages with dear friends. I had heard story after story of infertility and loss. I carried their pain and it became my own.

And yet here I was, begging God not to give me the very thing they desperately wanted.

I didn’t share this story for a long time because I was afraid of how people would react. I was afraid of sounding privileged and ungrateful. I didn’t want to appear selfish and immature. But as I slowly began to open up and confide in trusted friends, I was astonished at what I heard back.

I thought I was pregnant too and felt terrified.

I felt the same way you did in the bathroom with the baby I hold now. The one I can’t imagine life without.

I never wanted to be a mom. But I am one now. And it’s the hardest, most gratifying role I’ve ever been in.

Their stories were like healing balm and helped me breathe again.

While I waited for the desire to grow, motherhood began to feel like the overcrowded lunch table at school I wasn’t invited to sit at. No one made me feel this way, I excluded myself. Assuming that because I wasn’t in the same season, I couldn’t relate to the struggles and joy. I couldn’t understand the depths of their love. I figured I had nothing to offer or share.

Can I pause right here and say something? No matter the season you’re in, you have worthwhile truths to share. Some of the best marriage advice I’ve received has come from my friends who are single. So this line is for you—mama-to-be, mama in waiting, mama not yet, or mama never—you have much to teach us. You have much to say. You’ve learned stuff, you’ve seen a few things, you’ve experienced parts of life we haven’t.

Tell us about it.

I write these words now, pregnant with our first baby. I lay in bed, feel my belly move, press down where it feels hard, and wonder where on him it lands. I’m here now, anxiously awaiting to kiss the soft slope of his nose and squeeze his chunky thighs. Oh how I pray for chunky thighs!` I write this as a woman who always wanted to be a mother but needed time to uncover it.

The desire to get pregnant grew like ivy, slow at first and then with great vigor. It began to cover everything. It was all I could see and pray for. Each passing month we waited, began to hurt in places it hadn’t before.

I write this to free us a little. To say it’s okay to want something but not want it right yet. To feel fear when it shows up earlier than we thought. And to be delighted, weepy, and overwhelmingly grateful when we begin to ache for the very thing we were really afraid of.

Our hearts are fickle, our feelings are fleeting. Let’s fill the empty space with grace not shame, as we uncover all we hope for but don’t understand quite yet. As we inch closer and closer to the woman we are becoming even if it catches us by surprise.

We might find desire was actually there all along, it just needed space to grow.

Maeve Gerboth

Maeve is a writer, mama-to-be, kitchen dweller, and lover of community. She’s all about building a longer table and making room for one more. She lives with her husband in Virginia and never thought she’d stay planted somewhere this long. But is surprised to find how much she loves it. She serves as the Community Manager for Hope*Writers, an online space for writers to connect, grow, and encourage one another. It’s her favorite place to hang on the internet. She blogs over at Maeve Gerboth and posts (almost) daily to Instagram. Come say hello!