When the Fertility Fairy Goes MIA

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A_Daniela“Are you going to have more kids?”

I look at my only child, playing and grinning from ear to ear. God, I love him.

I feel a stab in my heart as disappointment and grief flood in. I don’t want him to be alone in life. But his dad and I have been trying for another baby for years, and at this point the odds are pretty low that the dream will come true.

I don’t blame the person for asking. Obviously, we have one child—the assumption would be that we are capable of having another.

She doesn’t know my story.

“Yes, we would love to. It just isn’t happening for us.”

“Oh.”

That usually shuts people up. Sometimes it opens the door for unsolicited advice and comments like, “As soon as my friends adopted they conceived,” or, “When you stop trying, it will happen! LOL!”

Yes. LOL.

We tried for five years to have another child. Hormones, treatments, counting days of my cycle. You name it, we did it.

We had “unexplained secondary infertility.” Which felt worse than any confirmed diagnosis. There were no answers to what we were walking through.

I was in a state of constant grief. Grieving for a life I never had. I felt a devastating loss and my heart was broken.

It wasn’t something I could just get over. I was trying to find a way to live with it.

My infertility nearly destroyed some of my relationships. It felt like the fertility fairy was waving her magic wand, knocking up everyone in my world.

She knocked up:

Those who weren’t even trying.

Those who didn’t want a baby.

The ones that just started trying five seconds ago.

The girl in the lunch room that wore ten plastic barrettes in her unwashed hair, and ceremoniously licked out her lunch container at the end of every meal.

Both my sisters.

My two best friends.

Everyone. Except me.

I could see the people I loved were afraid to tell me their news,  even though it held so much joy. But this was a joy I was unable to share.

I wanted to feel it. I wanted to celebrate with them. But so I was consumed in my grief, I could barely see the end of my nose. I wish I could have been stronger. I wish I hadn’t been jealous.

Whenever I could escape from the moment, there would be tears of self-pity. Oceans of tears.

I just couldn’t understand. Why everyone else and not me?

There is a scene in the movie Julie & Julia. Julia Child is in her kitchen with her adorable husband. She is propped up on the edge of the kitchen counter opening a letter from her sister. She falters mid-read and her husband asks her what is the news.

“It’s my sister—she’s pregnant,” she says through tears. “I am just so happy for her.”

I wept as the scene unfolded, as her husband held her in his arms and they shared their mutual loss of something they never had.

It must have been hard for those closest to me to tell me their news. Knowing that their happiness would probably cause me misery.

And it did make me miserable.

One time I was driving to the hospital because my friend’s son had arrived. A gift was wrapped on the seat beside me. This pregnancy had been really hard on me—I hadn’t even gone to her baby shower. Maybe it was the timing. I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. I finally gave up and turned around, crying all the way home, so sad I couldn’t share in her happiness.

I wish I could tell you there were some magic words that make this easier for both sides. But I can only offer what I know. Everyone’s journey is so different.

I had to pull back from my pregnant friends as their bellies swelled with life and I wore my cross of barrenness. I loved them, but I just couldn’t rise above my grief. Being on hormone therapy made this even harder. Mood altering hormones left me without one reasonable feeling or thought.

I felt guilty for not being better than my situation. I never stopped loving my friends, and when the babies came, I loved them too. It became easier for me after their arrivals.

I was there when my twin sister birthed my little nephew. I saw him arrive in this world. And I loved him. Adored him.  He filled a hole in my life and I lavished him with Auntie-love. At family dinners, I allowed others to hold him for two minutes, but then he was mine.

Then one day, my grief and I learned to live together.

I am not sure exactly what it was that changed, but one day I just realized I could choose to live or I could choose to mourn. The grief  was still there, but it didn’t rule my heart. I didn’t know what the future held for me, but I had learned to trust God. Promises of joy were being whispered from heaven.

So I found peace. And my relationships were restored.

Then I got pregnant.

This may seem like a “stop trying and it will happen” story. But it’s not.

It is a “learning to find joy in the hard places” story. Because when I really learned to lean into what God had for me, it didn’t matter anymore what the end looked like.

When I meet women today that are walking this season of life, I have a hard time finding the right words. I just want to grab them and squeeze the crap out of them. I don’t want to tell them about my miracle, Oliver. Because my heart breaks that they are still waiting for theirs.

I want them to know that they will have a beautiful story. But all of our stories look different.

So what can you do for someone who is close to you and walking this out?

If she pulls away, love her.

If she misses your baby shower, love her.

If she doesn’t come to the hospital, love her.

Because during those missed moments there is a good chance she was curled up in a ball somewhere, wishing she could be bigger.

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