This week Project Pomegranate offers our “Prepare Yourselves, Mother’s Day is Coming” Blog series, noting how difficult the Mother’s Day season can be for those who have struggled with fertility grief. Welcome to Tuesday’s blog post!
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Like the family I grew up in, mine would have five children, all spaced neatly two to three years apart. It just would. I always knew that it would.
The first child would be born approximately two years after I was married. My two older sisters had paved the way for this tidy, expected path. I was ready to follow.
And so it went, two years into marriage, my husband and I decided it was time to start building our family. The first month yielded negative results. Before we knew it, two years of the same followed. Fertility tests, clomid, IUIs, shots, IVF, all leading to more of the same. Nothing.
My heart ached as the dream I had for my family crumbled. I fretted that I would never have a child. And on my darkest days, I worried God did not want me to be a mother. Eventually, we turned our efforts toward adoption. We endured a long and uncertain process that ultimately led to our daughter. When she was finally placed in my arms, I was elated, happy. But before long I wanted more — a sibling for my child. Another child in my family.
I was blessed with the most perfect, amazing daughter through adoption. Because the journey was so hard-fought, I was no longer allowed to vocalize my desire for more. At least that is how I felt. The tears that came from infertility and wanting my first child – those were warranted. But the tears for the second, somehow they seemed less valid. An uninhibited person by nature, I became silent, riddled with guilt. How could I talk about my desire for a second child when I’d already been so blessed?
I felt like such a greedy person. How dare I not be satisfied. I asked God for a child, and He gave me my precious daughter. Why did I still grieve for the loss of the life I imagined – a house full of little feet? The guilt plagued me for years. We continued fertility treatments and saved until we could eventually apply to adopt again. And then, almost six years later, I became pregnant.
I have such clarity now that I am on the other side. I just wish I could have reconciled this pain earlier. God does not judge our desires. He gives us grace every day. And therefore we should accept it.
Along the way I was also hurt by friends and their comments about growing my family. One friend emailed me her news that she was expecting her third. She shared her excitement and also described the connection her first two shared. She said seeing her two children together was the greatest gift. She ended by asking, ‘you have to have another, don’t you want another?’
That day I cried for hours and remember feeling intense anger that she could not see the obvious. I did want another – I was doing everything I could to make it happen! I couldn’t bring myself to email her back as the sadness overtook me. But, again, I now know that she deserved grace as well. We all have our own stories, our own hardships. And it is impossible to know the pain someone might with carrying within them.
As we approach Mothers’ Day – a particularly sensitive and challenging time for some of us – I ask you be gentle and give yourself grace. And give those surrounding you grace as well.