Over the past two years, my perspective on pregnancy, babies and fertility in general has expanded dramatically. When I was freshly married I had the perspective that if my husband and I had unprotected sex, we would get pregnant. I don’t think this thought is actually uncommon. With so many big bellies surrounding me and the warnings from high school health classes not far behind me, I was completely naive to the reality of so many women.
I went off birth control expecting that I would get pregnant immediately. After the first couple months, I began to get nervous, worried that maybe we wouldn’t be able to get pregnant, that my body was failing me, that something was wrong. People would ask if we were thinking of having kids soon and my response was always the same. I would shrug, smile and casually say, “Well, we aren’t not trying.” In reality, I was actually saying, “We are trying desperately and I’m scared, I’m worried. I don’t know what we are doing wrong. Will we ever get pregnant?”
Eight months later, it happened. The two lines appeared and shortly after my tummy began to bulge. We now have a beautiful five month old daughter.
But to the woman whose story is a bit different from mine? To the one who has been trying to conceive for months on end? You who just went through the joy of becoming pregnant and the grief of a miscarriage shortly after? I try to see you.
When my husband and I began trying for a baby with no luck, I shared my concerns with a friend. She wrote me a heartwarming letter days later and in it she acknowledged the challenges of infertility. Infertility. That word made me cringe. It felt like there was something wrong with me, something permanent. It felt like a word that offered no hope for my family, for me to have babies. It sounded so final.
Perhaps you cringe too. Maybe you have branded yourself with that word, seeing others with their little ones and assuming that it must have been easy for them. You may see yourself as different, unlucky, or worse, responsible for another month with no baby.
But you are none of those things. And as you walk through a mall, or a park, or into church and see the women with the bulging stomachs or the little ones on their hips, know that you are not invisible. I try to see you.
No, I can’t remove the joy I have for having a baby. I’m not going to pretend as though I’m not grateful, nor do I think you would want me to. But I do see you, and I want you to know that I’ve been there too.
We all walk a journey toward motherhood, each one unique. Some have more twists and turns, dark alleys and mountains to climb, but they are all journeys. You are not alone in your pain, in your sideways glance to another stroller being walked by, to another pregnancy announcement on social media. I try to see you.
Sometimes these paths we walk seem easier in hindsight. The pain and frustration can be quickly forgotten. But you who are walking (or perhaps crawling) now? I try to see you.
I hope that we can begin to see one another more. I pray that we might open ourselves up to the women near us, allowing others to see us, to hold us, to care for us. I hope that I do not forget the pain, the frustration if only to say to someone else, “I’ve been there too.” Let us celebrate together, cry together, and hope together. Because really? You are not alone.
I see you.