our story, so far, and fighting shame

March 2016

I wasn’t the little girl who couldn’t wait to be a mom. I am sure I had baby dolls as a child, and I am sure I liked playing with them, but the vivid memories that have stuck with me are playing “teacher” or climbing trees or shooting hoops in the driveway.

I babysat pretty frequently in high school. I was a camp counselor for several years. I loved kids. I wanted a family one day. But “being a mom” wasn’t at the top of my list of dreams, the way it was for several of my friends.

There is nothing wrong with that dream that so many of my friends had, and I love hearing about women’s hearts to be mothers from even before they were married, but I share this with you to help you understand maybe why I feel a little ashamed at times to share my desire to get pregnant.

I’ve been sporadically reading books and blogs that deal with infertility – not enough to overwhelm me, but enough to hopefully encourage me. However, one of the primary things I have not related to is the way they talk about how being a mom was all they wanted when they first started trying to get pregnant, which has made this struggle so painful for them. And I get it – I can’t imagine that.

Not that I am incredibly career-driven, but until we started “trying,” I was pretty content with our life and our marriage. We really started discussing starting a family around our third anniversary (November 2014), then got off birth control the next month, and actually started “trying” a few months after that. The timing seemed right – we were finally somewhat settled in our jobs, and we had just bought a house, and we had a great foundation for our marriage. We had been praying for a season of “rest” in life before we ventured into new territory, and God had graciously given us some down time, in a sense. We were ready for change.

So when we didn’t get pregnant right away, I was a little shocked. Many of my friends had gotten pregnant in the first few months by doing exactly what I did, so I didn’t expect different results. And I was sad – sadder than I expected. Because I had never been the girl who was just dying to be a mom. So I felt a little silly that I was so sad. Then a few more months went by, and I started to feel numb. I didn’t know how to handle my emotions, and I didn’t know what to do with the fact that, now that I actually did want a baby, it wasn’t happening, and I couldn’t change it. So I tried to just ignore the emotions, thinking I needed to “tough it out.” After all, isn’t God in control of everything? If I really believed that, wouldn’t I be able to get over disappointment?

I think I then started believing that I didn’t deserve to be sad, because some days I was happy, so maybe I was sad because I was simply wallowing in unmet expectations. Plus, it had only been six or seven months. Many women had waited longer. Many of my friends weren’t married yet, and they wanted to be moms, so they had it much harder. No, I didn’t have the right to be as upset as I was. I should be happier, or so I told myself.

Until I felt like I was falling to pieces in January. I am sure it had a lot to do with spending too much time alone and therefore too much time in my head while my college girls were on Christmas break. I am sure it also had to do with over-heightened senses during the Christmas season. But I felt emotionally unhealthy, and didn’t have any tracks to run on to fix it. I looked up counselors in the area who specifically have a heart for women struggling with infertility, and while I wasn’t ready to call it that word, yet, I wanted to talk to someone who might understand a little of what I was walking through as she counseled me. That’s how I met Carrie, who nodded her head the entire time I was talking then told me I was walking through grief.

While my loss is ambiguous, she explained, it’s a loss nonetheless. And having never previously walked through grief, I didn’t understand the waves of grief and the unpredictability of its effects in my life. But as she shared with me what it meant to grieve this season, her words resonated with my heart and created validity to this struggle. This is why I find myself sad out of no where. This is why I feel like it takes over my thoughts and my world. This is why I can’t just get myself out of it – because grief is a process.

That was mid-January. It’s now mid-March, and I think overall I am much healthier emotionally. I have learned to pay attention to my feelings and to let them drive me to Christ. I have acknowledged my hurt and my unfulfilled desires. I have learned how to communicate the pain with others, especially my sweet husband, who isn’t used to having a wife who is emotionally all-over-the-place.

We went to the doctor for the first time last week (at the 11 month mark) to start the journey of trying to de-code infertility. And while I have had many loving people tell me to not worry about that label, to reject it or to not think about it, honestly it’s a comfort in a sense. I think I need permission to be sad with where we are at. I need to have a reason to grieve, a word to express what we are walking through.

I am not grieving the loss of hope. Our struggle with infertility may (Lord-willing) be short. But that won’t erase what we have walked through over the past year.

Some days, honestly, I am still perfectly content with our life. Even thankful that we don’t have babies yet. I am really blessed with a husband who is my best friend and a job I enjoy and a pup who loves to go everywhere with us. But some days, the shock of the past 11 months catches up with me, and I find myself overwhelmed with sadness and the reminder that I do want to be a mama. I do. Not just to have a little baby to cuddle and rock to sleep and carry wrapped across my chest. I want to be a mama to teach a child how to love Jesus. I want to learn more about God’s love for us as His children as I experience deep but imperfect love for my own child. I want to do the work of raising kids with Eric, to experience teamwork in a whole new way. I want to walk through the hard days and give grace to my child the way God gives grace to me.

And, no matter the path or the timeline to adding kids to our family, I want to look for God at work in our lives, believing that He has good plans for our desires, whether or not He will fulfill them the way we expect. I have no need to be ashamed, or to doubt myself in what I am hoping for. And I am filling my mind with truth about these desires, allowing God’s Word to be the rock I can stand on as I walk through days of uncertainty.

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