Right now I’m in the middle of reading a book called ‘Dear Thing‘ by Julie Cohen. I should have known better than to start reading it. I should have known it would make me an emotional mess. I should have known it would make me cry. I should have known…but I didn’t. I started reading it a few days ago and, despite being a really good book, it’s torn my heart open in ways I’ve tried to keep closed since losing our second pregnancy at the end of last year.
In the book Claire, Ben’s wife, has spent years suffering through fertility treatment after fertility treatment and miscarriage after miscarriage. After finally giving up all hope of being a mother her husband, Ben, convinces her to try surrogacy. After all, his best friend Romily, has offered to be their surrogate and she has already delivered her own healthy little girl. Claire agrees, then begins suffering in a way she never imagined. You see, as Romily’s pregnancy progresses, Claire feels more and more like a failure.
All I can think while reading it is, “I feel you, Claire.”
My husband and I have never pursued surrogacy to build our family and, even though we’ve discussed it, we know it isn’t an option for us. We have discussed adoption and if we are not able to conceive and carry a child to term then that will be the path we travel. Still, I can understand Claire.
I know how she feels when she walks in to the OBGYN’s office and is surrounded by pregnant women. I understand her heartache and I know how challenging it can be to sit there and feel like a failure among other women.
I know how she feels when it’s hard to even see a child because you can’t help but wonder what your child would look like at that age, if you were able to have a child.
I know how she feels when her friends, co-workers, and family members are announcing their pregnancies when she has spent years trying, and failing, to become a mother.
I know how she feels when her period starts, every month, and reminds her (with a bright red reminder) that once again she has failed to do what should be such a simple thing for a woman.
I know how it feels to be a failure as a woman. Ever since we started trying to build our family and have a child I’ve felt like a failure. There have been so many days I’ve found myself sitting and wondering what I’m supposed to do with my life if I’m not supposed to become a mother. Sometimes I find myself sitting and staring at my dogs wondering if they will be the only tiny little things I ever love.
Sometimes I feel like all of the dreams I had for my future are lost and I wonder who I am. I wonder who I’m going to become if I’m not going to be the mother I’d always dreamed of being.
In the early stages of my relationship with my husband we would talk about what we thought our family would look like one day. We talked about having 2 kids, or 3, or 4. We talked about baby names, gender preference, and what kind of activities we hope they are interested in. We had decorated future nurseries, planned future family vacations, and researched the benefits of public school vs private school vs homeschool. We talked about raising our children in our faith while also encouraging them to think for themselves and research their own truths. We talked about family rules and how we would discipline. We had our family planned…and it’s never happened.
Now, we find ourselves saying things like, “If we ever have a child…” because we’ve heartbreakingly accepted we may never be parents. We find ourselves asking each other, “If we don’t have a child, we’ll be ok, right? We will stay together, right? You won’t look at me like a failure, will you?” because we both need the reassurance that our love is greater than the hurt we feel over not being able to become parents.
We find ourselves praying for even just one child when we used to dream of having three or four.
We no longer look ahead to holidays or vacations that are 2 or 3 years down the road and wondering if we’ll be traveling with a child. Now, we plan everything with an expectation that it will just be the two of us. Our biggest question now is, “Do we take the dogs or board them?”
It’s been six years. We’ve lost two children. How long do you have to struggle before you accept that you won’t have children? When you finally accept that you won’t have children, how do you accept that you’ll never be the person you thought you would become.
When you finally accept that you’ll never be the person you thought you’d become, who are you?