Families have been welcoming new babies, announcing pregnancies, and then there's just been me. Sitting here. Not pregnant.
Someone recently overheard me discussing pregnancy with my friend (herself about 7 months) and just overhearing a piece of the conversation, asked if I was expecting.
"No. I'm not. I'm the very complete opposite of pregnant. What's more opposite than just not pregnant. A man? Whatever it is, I'm that."
It wasn't a very charitable response to an honest inquiry, and I tried to make a joke of it, but no, I'm not pregnant. Pregnancy is no more likely today than it was 6 months ago. Than it was 5 years ago.
But, there, in my brushing off of the question, a kernel of honesty sticks out to me. I compared myself to a man with my lack of pregnancy. In that wording, I found a piece of honesty. Not being able to conceive feels as if it's a robbery of my feminine nature. I feel devoid of what makes me intrinsically woman. My fertility, my ability to bear children. But I'm (obviously) not a man either. I'm stuck in this void that feels like nothing.
People generally don't want to hear about how awful that void is, so I don't say anything. I congratulate others on their pregnancy announcements. Then I go home and cry. Even when I'm truly, deeply happy for them, I cry. The happiness for a friend seems to float along the surface, disassociated from the deepest parts of my soul. I'm happy for them in a way that I can't connect the happiness to my entire being.
Because deep down, there's an emptiness. And the happiness won't fit inside.
It makes me feel terrible. So then I cry about that. It makes me feel ungrateful for my two girls. So then I cry about that. I get tired of crying and eat ice cream. Then I cry because I'm overweight and that adds to my infertility.
I never know what to say when people ask how I am. Which answer do you want? Would you like to comfortable one where I tell you only the fun and light things in my life? Or would you like me to tell you I can't even bring myself to make a meal for friends welcoming a new baby. That holding that baby is equal parts torture and hope-filled. So much so, I can't decide whether I want to hold the babe or run away.
Would you like to hear about the days filled with a deep peace when I truly believe my days of babies are not yet behind me and there's perhaps one or two more left for us? Or are you ready to hear about the days when I fuel my workouts with the rage and frustration that coats my heart?
So, really, I have nothing to say. But I'm saying it here. Because this is my space to say anything and nothing. And because maybe someone else just needs to know today that someone else goes home and cries when they hear someone else's good news.
If you know someone suffering a similar pain, there are some things you can do for us:
- Pray. Pray for our hope. Pray for our hearts. Pray for any children we already have. Pray for our marriages. Pray for family.
- If you have the chance, share your good news privately first. Please give us a chance to regroup. If we don't handle it well, please forgive us. We truly love you.
- Ask us how we are when you're really ready to listen, and when we're somewhere we can take a moment to share. If you ask in a crowded drop-off, we're going to say "fine" even if we had more to say. If we say "fine" even when you've given us the opportunity, please know that we just might not have the emotional stamina to go into it right then.
- Please don't tell us that we have it "easy" with no (one, two, x) kids. Please. Just don't.
- Forgive us. We're bound to be less than gracious along the way. Please, please forgive us.
- Show us your joy. We need to know we yearn for something worth our strife. The world is constantly telling us children are a burden and unimportant. Show us they're more.
Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for picking up a piece of my cross and walking along each time you read here. God bless you.
And now, completely unrelated photos, to leave you with a smile :)