Today is Mother’s Day, and I can’t help but reflect on the current state of my life.
There won’t be someone to hand me scribbles with a printed “Happy Mother’s Day”, there won’t be fruit snacks stuck to my dress, and my car will stay (fairly) immaculate. I am well rested, slept in, and no one woke me screaming or scared from a dream. There won’t be whining, mounds of laundry, or food to cut into tiny pieces. And the absence of these things makes my heart ache.
I reflect on the timing Jacob and I determined, and I can’t help but think today I will go to church and sit quietly in a pew. I should be roaming the halls frustrated by the poor behavior of my almost-two-year-old acting up, feeling exhausted and queasy about the morning sickness #2 is ensuing from heart burn elicited by the spicy Mexican burrito I couldn’t resist last night. But none of these dreams will be realized for me today. I will sit quietly and admire other’s babies that my friends so kindly share and let me entertain during our meetings.
Last week I broke down in tears for the first time in a long time.
It was an old wound, one I thought I’d patched up enough to not feel the pain of, but there are just times things are reopened and you can’t do much about it.
My fertility problems have been present since I was a teen. I didn’t know what they were for a long time, and the diagnosis came at a very low point in my life. The day I confronted my husband-at-the-time about cheating on me, he packed up and left within an hour abandoning me. It was Sunday. Thursday I found myself at a Dr. appointment having an ultrasound confirm that there were cysts all over my ovaries. Apparently those “ulcers” that gave me pain growing up were a little bit more than that. There were other issues, and I left feeling like I no longer even had my health. It was one of the lowest days of my life. I sat in my car and just sobbed. I could, however, not deny the timing for a diagnosis for problems I’d been looking for answers to for over a decade. But still, a long time in a car was spent sobbing.
I was really heartbroken to not only be alone, but to have the thought that I’d never get to be a mother. My friends and family kept telling me it was such a blessing that I didn’t have kids with who Jacob and I now formally refer to as “Buttface”. I see so much how this was a blessing, but at the time I thought being a struggling single mom was better than being alone and never having the chance to be a mother. It is something I’ve always wanted.
I had been through a year of fertility treatments in my first marriage. I was so hopeful and excited each month, and I really felt like fertility drugs were the solution after months of trying. There isn’t a way to describe how you feel each time a pregnancy test comes back negative, particularly when it’s a righteous desire of your heart, and something you’ve done everything in your power to achieve. When you’ve suffered through terrible side effects of fertility treatments, turned an intimate relationship into a science project, and you feel like a failure, it’s a tough patch to go through. To those who have wept looking at yet another negative pregnancy test, my heart goes out to you. I very much know your pain.
When God blessed me with an amazing husband and the chance to marry again, I was of course thrilled, and astonished this would be a part of life again. I’ve always had a lot of faith when the timing was right, a baby would come. Jacob married me knowing full well that fertility problems exist. We knew our kids would have to be super planned out and very much wanted. We always knew it may take longer than planned.
It’s an interesting thing to be a planner, and to learn to have faith in God’s timing for you. At age 18 I would have told you I would be married about 22, teach high school for about 2-3 years, only to welcome a baby to my home at 24, 26, 28, and wrap things up around 30 with baby #4. Of course 2 boys and 2 girls, and they’d all be perfect and the best of friends.
When life fell apart in my mid 20’s, I inevitably learned some valuable lessons. God loves us so much, and has better things in store for us if we have faith and turn to Him. I learned you can look to plan B, C, or even ZZZ, and you can still find a lot of happiness. What may seem like a failure can often be the biggest blessing. Things that don’t work out make you worthy and appreciative of the things that do. And best of all, the coolest people are those who have experienced some serious heartache, and understand how to communicate on a selfless, heartfelt level. For a moment, I could see that I would get a tiny slice of being a compassionate human after being a very ego-centric and judgmental soul.
I know God lead me to a career I would love. He knew a master’s degree and successful career would bring me the self-esteem my ex-husband so readily stole and destroyed. He knew the right guy would come along, and he’d need me to be in grad school so we could meet. He knew that guy wanted a more seasoned girl with a career and ambition. He prepared me for plan “B” and truly taught me you can be happy with plan “B” in any form it may come. I’d argue it was plan “C” because “B” was to be a wealthy single girl and to quickly climb the ranks in Corporate America. I figured I could buy all the shoes I’d want, spoil my nieces and nephews, serve a lot, and still find a lot of happiness. And I did. But then came plan “C” saying- “Here, have a husband, here’s an opportunity to have a family of your own” was much better than a custom closet with all the greatest pairs of shoes one could desire.
I find myself once again, years later, sitting in that car, sobbing. I know things work out how they are supposed to. I know I’ve been blessed with a great job that I can gladly do my entire life. I know this job is easier without children. I know children are a ton of work. Trust me, I have 30 nieces and nephews. I helped raise my youngest sister. We babysit all the time. Most people we know with kids say nothing but complaints when we are around them. We are well aware of the challenge and the responsibility. I know my body won’t be the same. I know my clothes will be covered in spit-up. I know I won’t sleep in ever again. But I know deep down, being a mother is something I really need to fulfill me in life.
I’ve tried hard to focus on everything else in life, but on occasion, I can’t help but realize that I once again said I’d have my first at age 30, and to watch the years go by is something hard to see. I honestly thought it would all work out since I’m with the right person this time. I thought it would be fast and easy this time. I thought I knew the problem, so the problem could easily be solved- that is what every Dr. has told me the past six years. And for some reason, when I realize we planned to be working on #2 by now, it makes me a little sad to think that our numbers may be small, and still very far away, due to fertility.
I keep trying to remind myself of all I have- so many wonderful friends, so many supportive family members. I really am blessed. I really do feel like I have it all, because I have Jacob. I have the perspective that eternity is a long time, and if we aren’t blessed with our own children, or adopted children in this life, we will be in the next.
I guess my questions keep cropping up. What do you do when your heart constantly feels broken? When you’ve had faith so many years, and you start to realize God’s plan is once again, extremely different for you? That in fact, there will be no conventional Mormon life plan for you, and you will always feel the outsider in most conversations. When you can no longer go to a single family or church event without the women discussing their pregnancies and delivery, and feeling judged for not being able to have children by those who have no idea your struggle or pain. I’ve stayed strong for so long, but I guess I needed to let out that my heart feels like a big piece is missing, and today is a day I yearn for that piece.
Today I will put on a smiling face. I will go celebrate the wonderful mother I have. I will enjoy dinner with four of my siblings and their families. I will get to be a mother figure to the eight nieces and nephews that will be there. And I will be grateful to my siblings for their kind compassion and understanding, their ability to be cheerleaders, and their willingness to share their children with us.
I know this is different than my typical post, but every now and then, I feel the need to be vulnerable and share the matters deep in my heart. And for those of you struggling with a piece of your heart missing, or a dream unfulfilled, I wanted to let you know that you my friend, are certainly not alone.