All I wanted was to be a wife and a mother.
Growing up, that was the pinnacle of success to this conservative Christian homeschooled girl. It was the perfectly cultivated answer to the ever present question of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I loved shocking my less conservative relatives with that answer, seeing them grapple for understanding when I further explained that I wasn’t going to college and had no intention of ever working outside my home. To them, I was a girl with no ambition. To me, I was a girl waiting to begin her life’s greatest work.
This was my noblest calling, my most divine occupation. I would be doing what God has created me and every other woman on this earth to do. Why should I ever want anything else? Who wouldn’t want this ideal life? Oh, to be continually pregnant, barefoot, and in the kitchen! There were those that would mock such a life choice, but I yearned for it with all my being. To be loved by a man and to make a dozen beautiful babies…that was the ultimate achievement.
Little did I know that after just one miraculously successful pregnancy, my motherhood would become a story of loss and infertility.
No one ever imagines that their motherhood journey might be wracked with difficulty. We hear stories of loss and infertility and think “Well, my story will be different. My mom had eight kids with no trouble so why shouldn’t I? Maybe that couple isn’t eating right or taking the right vitamins. Maybe she is too fat or too thin. I won’t make the same mistake.” Normally, this isn’t said out of judgement or spite. Assumptions about motherhood and fertility are merely a lack of understanding. You can find this even amongst fathers of many kids, or older women who’ve been out of the game for a while.
Regardless, how our motherhood turns out is often not how we envisioned it, and sometimes that means walking a path filled with grief, confusion, unfulfilled expectations of our own and from others, and many unanswered questions. Whether you don’t have as many children as you hoped, or you don’t have any because they keep ending up in heaven, or you’re single and motherhood isn’t even an option for you to pursue…what happens when your journey isn’t what you thought it would be?
Confusion, shame, bitterness, regret. You start feeling like there must be something wrong with you. You are told by people who think its the right thing to say that God must have a reason, or that maybe He’s testing you. You feel like maybe you’re not good enough. It seems like everyone around you is making babies so easily. You know there will be people daring to think the worst of you…that you must just be selfish for not wanting many kids or kids at all, or that you must not consider children a blessing.
You scramble to find answers as people begin telling you to “just relax” or suggesting fertility treatments. You stumble through grief that feels so misunderstood.
And then you begin to wonder if this is your new normal.
You look at your life with no children, or “just” one/two/three, etc. You feel like you don’t measure up. You feel the judgement. You feel the resentment and bitterness creeping in.
Does this sound familiar?
This is my what my story and the stories of countless other women sound like. And while we as a culture are learning and shifting into a place of beautiful support, recognition, and empathy, so many women are still left grappling the meaning of this reality.
Let’s just call it what it is—its disappointing when your life doesn’t turn out like you hoped it would. This is true of any situation, whether its someone you thought was the love of your life, or the job you planned on having for years.
Sometimes you can find a new job or someone else to love. And sometimes you can find other ways to fill your life with children. Sometimes you can’t.
And when you can’t, this is the message I want so badly for you to hear: The circumstances that cause you pain, confuse or disappoint you are not your whole life.
You are more than your motherhood. Your fertility does not define you. Children or no children, or less children than you thought…you are still worth taking care of and having beautiful life. There is nothing wrong with you. Its ok if you don’t want to jump through a million costly hoops to achieve motherhood. It’s ok if you can’t “just adopt”. Your ability or inability to have children may seem like a huge deal right now, and it may be something that is breaking your heart. But its ok to acknowledge that and then do something else.
Its ok to mourn the life you thought you were going to live. Its ok to change your mind, reinvent yourself, and rewrite your story. Because sometimes we don’t have a choice and we have to rise up out of our ashes and turn out pain into something good.
If you thought this post was going tell you how God has a plan like every other infertility blog will, sorry. I believe the my God is faithful, loving, all knowing, and beautiful, but I don’t believe that He screws with our lives in order to teach us lessons. So you won’t me chalking my fertility struggles up to the patience God’s trying to teach me or whatever. You will, however, find me saying the in spite of all the loss, all the brokenness, all the heartache, all the disappointment, God knows. He is good and He sees me. He hold my tattered wounds in His hands and will never let me go. He walks with me through this valley, but He did not create the valley for me to walk through.
Whatever your motherhood looks like, I pray above all things that you find peace and rest in His arms, knowing that this is not our whole story, and there is a beautiful future waiting for us, one where all our lost babies meet us and the things we cannot possibly understand are all made clear.