While laying in bed the night my husband asked me to marry him, a strange sensation came over me that I hadn’t really expected. It was the longing to not only join my life with another person, but also start something bigger: I wanted to start a family. My freshly dubbed “fiancé” walked into the room and asked why I was crying, and all I could blurt out was, “I am so happy to know that I am looking at the father of my future children!”
Yes, I know how corny that sounds but I promise that is exactly how it went down.
Since I was a freshman in college at the time, I was feeling more than a little perplexed by the sudden maternal feelings that had washed over me. I’ll admit I hadn’t given a lot of thought to growing up and becoming a mom when I was a kid. Sure, I played with baby dolls for a while and did the occasional babysitting (which let’s be honest, terrified me), but it never really occurred to me that I would grow up and even have the inkling to get married, buy a house, and have children. I guess the itch to settle down just showed up sooner than I planned.
So my now husband and I, wide-eyed and naive to world, hunkered down in preparation to build a life. While many kids our age were partying on the weekends, traveling to spring breaks in tropical locations, and doing all sorts of typical college-kid things, we were staying home and studying. We were working jobs, saving, planning, and preparing for lives as Mr. and Mrs. We worked as nurses aides alongside each other in the evening and studied during the day, all in the hopes of being able to support that future family.
After college, we married and bought a small home to begin planning the biggest adventure of our lives. I had it all planned: I would have kids by 25 and be done by 30. Prenatal vitamins were started, a savings account plumped, “What to Expect Before you are Expecting,” “What to Expect When you are Expecting,” and “Your Pregnancy Week by Week” were studied thoroughly and followed devotedly.
And then the baby didn’t come.
Months went by and nothing changed. My plans were shifted and my perfectly planned world tilted on its axis as I realized for perhaps the first time in my young adult life that some things are beyond my control. Making matters worse, all the young couples around me must have also gotten the procreative itch, as one by one the pregnancy announcements came in. The birthing center that I worked in was filled to the absolute brim with pregnant women, babies, and young fertile nurses who wasted no time in fulfilling their own dreams at motherhood.
Soon enough, nearly everyone was pregnant but me.
I would like to say that I handled this gracefully in a level-headed manner, but I’m sure you have gathered that I am a bit of a planner and really appreciate when things go as I anticipate. So there were tears. So very many tears.
Once the initial tears were wiped, then the next step of planning began: find out what the problem is and fix it. The library of baby books was replaced and the doctor visits began. I will spare you from the gruesome, painful, and expensive things that I went through during that time, but I assure you it was an ordeal and the tears never stopped flowing.
On the eve of my 30th birthday, I was staring at the swing set in the backyard of a house we were intending to buy. I had become rather familiar with the art of attempting not to cry in public places, so I bit my tongue and attempted to subtly dry my tears. I shifted back and forth and muttered to my husband, “Maybe we can have foster kids, or adopt, or sell this swingset. I would hate for this to all go to waste.”
As we drove away, my husband said, “Well now that we put an offer in on a big house, you will probably get pregnant.” I scoffed, and frankly I was more than a little annoyed when he said it considering I just taken a blood test that indicated that was very likely not the case after another round of fertility medication. I had given up hope.
This is the part of the story where someone might choose to insert something like, “God laughed at that moment,” or “Ya know, life’s funny like that.”
Fast forward three and a half years later and here I am, sitting next to a Christmas tree filled with about twenty pregnancy and baby ornaments that we have accrued since that day.
We never did end up buying the house with the swing set. I gave up on the concept that I am in total control over any of my life’s journeys. However, I will say I do appreciate the fact that I picked a tiny affordable starter home with a bedroom right across the hall for a nursing baby who is now a potty training toddler. So I guess some things work out well without all that planning.
There is so much more to be said about this perfect thing called motherhood, and the years of infertility were only a very small part of my story. But they were very real and so very, very painful. However, I felt that if I didn’t tell the beginning of the story (or perhaps the “story before the story”) that perhaps the rest of the stories that followed may not make as much sense.
As I reflect back on all these years, it occurred to me when I first became a mother. It was not the moment I looked down at the very perplexing two pink lines on the pregnancy test or the moment our breech girl came into the world, it was the night I conceived the notion that I might one day become a mom. For in that night, a mother’s heart was born.
So if your story is like mine, take heart mama; and know you are already a mom, because your love for that little one is already so strong.
If you are someone going through infertility or know someone who is and want to know how to be supportive, check out RESOLVE. I found it a very valuable resource as I started on my journey.