I’m in the waiting room of my Gynecologist’s office. The almost eerie silence is pierced every couple of minutes by the sound of a door swinging open and a soft woman with a wide smile calling a name. I’m hyper-focused on the slight creek the door makes with every swing. I wonder how the receptionists can stand to listen to it all day, every day.
I make my way to the restroom and I’m greeted by a sign that reminds me to check with the front desk before urinating in case the doctor will want a sample. But I know the doctor won’t want a sample because I’m not here for a UTI and there’s no chance that I’m pregnant.
The sign seems to mock me.
How many times have peed on a stick in the hopes of seeing a second line? How many times has my husband said, “I really think this time is it!” when my gut already tells me it isn’t? How long has it been since he stopped saying that because the disappointment hurts too much?
Back in the waiting room there are three other women sitting in chairs, all of whom are obviously pregnant. There is another woman standing at the reception desk who doesn’t look pregnant so for a moment I assume, like me, she’s just here for a routine exam. But she’s speaking loudly so she is easily overheard. At least it seems loud in such a quiet space. She’s complaining because she’s pregnant and getting married in a few weeks. She can’t believe her terrible luck that she will have to spend her honeymoon pregnant. “Can you believe this happened?” she groans to the receptionist. I ponder whether she understands how these things come about and I wonder if she grasps just how blessed she is that it came so easily to her. Then she gripes that this is her second pregnancy in just a few months, and that she took a bunch of Morning After pills the last time so she would miscarry. “I miscarried that baby and it just figures that now I’m pregnant again!” she exclaims.
You didn’t miscarry that baby, you aborted it, I think to myself. A miscarriage happens to something you love. Something you wanted more than anything else in the world. I’ve miscarried and I can assure you it is nothing like you’ve described.
A chemical abortion is still an abortion.
For a moment I have an overwhelming urge to kick her. I’m not proud of that. I probably wouldn’t admit that to someone in person, but we’ve always strived to be real on our anonymous little blog. The feeling was almost tangible. I actually pictured myself doing it. Then in shame, I sent up a silent repentant prayer. It was judgment, jealousy, and violence all rolled into one sinful thought.
Infertility is hard. Really hard.
When my name is called, I follow the soft smiling woman beyond the creaky door toward the examination rooms. The walls are lined with pictures. Picture after picture after picture of adorable, chubby little babies. The offspring of the women who have received their care here.
The pictures taunt me.
“You’re not a real woman” they say.
Women were made to make babies.
You have no purpose.
You waited too long.
You’ll never be a mother.
You don’t deserve it.
Sometimes I think that Gynecology offices should be separate from Obstetrics offices to spare us infertile women the emotional trauma of a visit to the lady bits doctor. Because let’s be honest, going to the Gynecologist is already traumatizing enough without adding in those jeering beautiful infant photos lining the hallways.
My doctor tells me even if I didn’t have a chromosomal disorder and even if I didn’t have PCOS and even if I weren’t overweight, I’d still have almost zero chance of conceiving because at my age all my eggs are dead. He also informs me that at his age, my husband’s sperm is dead too. He didn’t use those exact words, but he may as well have.
I feel silenced from talking about this pain because everyone around me seems to think I shouldn’t even want children, what with my age and the fact that I already have step-children. But there is a biological drive to reproduce. There is something deeply ingrained in a woman to be a mother. God created us this way. My step-children are wonderful and amazing and a huge blessing in my life, but I will never be their mother. I can love them, nurture them, and guide them, but I can never be theirs. They already have a mother, and I cannot (and should not) take her place.
They will never call me mom.
Every children’s birthday party, every pregnancy announcement, every baby shower, and every gender reveal is like another stab in an already shattered heart. You avoid the babies in your life. You desperately want to hold them, and yet you don’t, because you know if you do, you will absolutely fall apart. Your façade will slip, your truth revealed. In these situations, it is reality to be authentically happy for others, but almost inconsolably sad for yourself.
And then comes the guilt. Guilt for feeling that way. Guilt for being too-self-focused. Guilt for failing your husband yet again. Guilt for not taking it better. Guilt for not always praising God through the storm. Every month the grieving process starts all over again. You try not to get your hopes up, but you can’t help hoping this is the month for your miracle. Followed by the inevitable let-down, indescribable grief, and the return of the guilt. Did you know that more than half of women experiencing infertility say that it is the most upsetting experience of their lives? Another study showed that women with infertility feel as anxious or depressed as those diagnosed with cancer.
I have no idea how people do it without God.
Because I know God, it’s not all consuming for me. The Lord has blessed me tremendously and I am very thankful. I have an amazing husband and an incredible family. I am truly happier in my life now than I have ever been. I have a God whose love IS all consuming.
In my pain and sorrow, He is there. Always there. I can’t say why my prayers haven’t been answered or if they ever will be, but I can say without any doubt that I know He’s heard me. He knows my tears. He sees my struggles. Even when my attitude hasn’t always been right, He has continued loving me through it all. I am forever grateful for that.
He is a God of the impossible. It was but a few short years ago that I was on this blog moaning that I was still single in a sea of unhitched Christian women with nary a single Christian man in sight. I saw all the impossibilities: the high ratio of single women to men, my below average looks, being beyond the average age for a first marriage, and being too busy, too shy, and too anxious to date, among other things. By my human reasoning, there was no way I’d ever find a mate so there were times that I doubted whether God would send me a one. Still, I was never quite able to give up my hope and when the time was right, God answered my prayers for a spouse in a way that went far beyond my expectations. My husband is so incredibly good to me. He makes me feel loved and valued every single day. He has a tremendous faith in God. He is everything I ever wanted in a partner.
If God can answer that prayer, I know that He can make me a mother. If He doesn’t, then I know He had His perfect reasons for not doing so.
In His Love,