I wrote this blog on May 14th, 2017 for all of the Would-Be Mothers, especially those struggling with infertility. Chances are, either you or someone you know, can relate. Enjoy.
I woke up this morning to my sweet husband kissing my cheek and saying “Happy Mother’s Day.” Friday, Nayla gave me her gift she made at school, because she “just couldn’t wait.” She’s like me in that way. We both have a really hard time withholding gifts or good news from the ones we love. I am over-the-moon grateful for the acknowledgement I receive on weekends like these from family, strangers and church members. But, I can’t stop thinking about those women who would be mothers, if they could. Who acknowledges them? When is their special day?
I got pregnant with Nayla as soon as I stopped birth control. I was young and took for granted my fertility. I had no care in the world and breezed through that pregnancy like a pro. (The tough delivery and health issues that followed is the subject of another blog.) At my postpartum visit, I got long acting birth control (an IUD) because I felt like one child was enough to take care of through an intense OBGYN residency. Nayla was almost 2 when I started intern year. Time passed, the IUD expired and I got another one. Different people asked me, “When will you have another child?” I always gave them variations of the same answer: “When residency is over” or “When I start my first job” or “When I get my practice established.”
The hard part about “when” as it relates to fertility, is that you ultimately have no control over it.
My friend took my IUD out the month I graduated residency. (No, that’s not weird. My friends are all very well trained OBGYN’s). I was certain that I’d get pregnant immediately. After all, studies show that IUD’s have no negative effects on fertility and that women have increased fertility the first month after IUD removal. I also had evidence that I was super-fertile because of how quickly we conceived Nayla. I was ready and excited. By this time, Nayla was asking for a sibling. “You’ll have one by the time you are 6,” I said. Dumb. She told everyone this.
It’s amazing that when you are trying to be pregnant, every nonspecific symptom tricks you into believing you are. Nauseated? I must be pregnant. Irritable? I’ve got to be pregnant. Exhausted? Definitely Pregnancy. Pre-period spotting? Must be implantation bleeding. Breast discomfort? Pregnancy. The list is really endless.
On the backside of the hope you have that you could become pregnant each month, is the disappointment you face when you aren’t. Each month that you aren’t pregnant feels like a noose tightening around your neck. Like, you are in a race against Time and you are losing horribly. In this case, Time has a name, The Biological Clock. Each stroke of her hand is a signal to tighten the noose. After a while, we started fertility treatments which are expensive, dramatic and stressful. The visits, the ovulation predictor kits, the timed intercourse, the lab draws, the ultrasounds, the procedures, the menstrual calendars all proved to be a bit overwhelming, even for an OBGYN. I told my prayer groups about my predicament in hopes that if God heard one more petition on my behalf, he would cave and give me what I wanted. Turns out God has His own timing.
The intrinsic desire to be a mother (when you can’t) is intense. It’s like a smoldering fire in your belly. Day-to-day, you learn to tame it, but sometimes situations or people unknowingly throw gasoline on that fire, and you feel as if it’s going to consume you. For example, you could be going on your merry way, and someone who doesn’t know you well asks, “Isn’t it time for another baby?” or “When are you going to start your family?” Other things that fuel the fire include seeing cutesy Facebook posts that double as pregnancy announcements, running into people who have children that they don’t care for well, or meeting women who got pregnant unintentionally and choose to terminate. These situations are just a few that are hard for infertile women to encounter without feeling a certain kind of way. Just being honest.
So, today on this Mother’s Day, I’d like to celebrate you Would-be Mothers. I hear you and feel your pain. I know you would be a mother if you could be. Remember, you are no less a woman today or any day.