To the mother who lives in your heart, and can’t wait to get out.
I’m not an infertility patient and I don’t have children, so I realize I’m a third party when it comes to talking about infertility. But having children is absolutely a dream of mine—it’s a dream because I can visualize it and I daydream about it. I can see myself with my children. I can imagine myself pregnant. I even imagine how one day I will surprise my husband with the news and together we have discussed how we will one day tell our parents. I can visualize my husband loving, spending time with, reading to, and playing with our future children. I truly can’t wait for my husband to become a dad.
I imagine this is similar if not exactly the same as what all infertility patients have done. When I try to imagine what it must feel like to want this dream to become a reality so badly after you have decided to start trying to have a baby and then it not coming true, it breaks my heart and it’s hard to comprehend. I work at Shady Grove Fertility and it is literally my job to help more couples know that there are options and, quite honestly, very good options, to help them have a baby. But this message has never before been more real for me personally.
I knew love as a child. My parents loved me and cared for me, and I loved them. I also loved my sisters, I loved my dog and my cat. As you grow and get older you are privileged to learn and experience new types of love. I was lucky to find my husband with whom I learned it was possible to love so much it could hurt. And last year, I experienced an entirely new type of love—I learned the love of being an aunt.
After she was born, I experienced this amazing, unexplainable love for a tiny human who did nothing to deserve love other than simply exist.
Lives Forever Changed
To emphasize how much her little life meant to me, let me share a bit about myself. I live in a different state from my entire family. But luckily just living a few hours apart, my husband and I have made the trip home so often that goodbyes were sometimes only for the week. I share this because leaving has rarely, if ever, been emotional. But leaving the hospital the day after she was born, I cried. I cried a lot. I was overwhelmed by emotion and so incredibly full of love. It was new, it was important. I wondered if this is what it would feel like being a mom, or if this is how my aunt felt when I was born. I understood a little more about how much my parents loved me, and I knew my sister’s life would be forever changed.
Since becoming a new aunt, I have been privileged to observe the intimate love between a new mother and her child. I’ve learned that this deep connection and appreciation is different when it’s your own sibling (or someone who you love deeply like a sibling) who has a child. Watching your sibling change from teenager, to college student, to fiancé then a wife, and finally a mother, I can appreciate motherhood in a new way. Because I’ve been a part of my sister’s life for so long, witnessing this change is wonderful. Seeing how much she loves her little girl makes me love her even more. It changed her. By simply observing, you can see a new full and completeness to her heart and life. She is a mom.
Already Mothers in Their Heart
I have a new, and better, understanding of what women want when they say they want to be a mom, or a mom again. I have dreamed it myself, but feeling it and witnessing it is entirely new. So when I see friends struggle and want and try to have a baby, it hurts and I so badly want motherhood for them.
I have friends and co-workers who are facing miscarriages, infertility, and fertility treatments right now, and I just know they will be such amazing mothers. One shot and test at a time, they have overcome obstacles they never imagined they would have to face. I honestly don’t know how they do it, but they do, they just keep going. One friend even does it mostly in silence. They are some of the strongest women I know. I cannot emphasize that enough.
Every time they have a negative beta or bad news, my heart truly breaks for them—I so badly want them to have their baby.
After witnessing their resilience, I believe motherhood is in us before we ever become a mom. The same “mama bear” mentality, the heart and strength of a lion, is what I see my friends tap into as they undergo fertility treatment and overcome that miscarriage. They don’t stop because of the needle they hate or their third miscarriage that just doesn’t make any sense, they keep going. Nothing will stop them because they are already mothers in their heart.
What to Say and What NOT to Say
Now, after personally seeing and feeling the love and bond between a mother and her child, I couldn’t want this anymore for our patients or for anyone who is trying to have a baby. I couldn’t want it anymore for my friends. But as a third party, I don’t always know what to say when you share bad news with me—or what to say as you go through fertility treatment.
I don’t always know if I should ask how things are going—because what if you don’t want to talk about it? I want to be supportive, give you strength, be empathetic, help you know it’s not your fault, alleviate any feeling of self-blame, give you courage, and help you understand it’s normal (whatever you’re feeling) and that you aren’t alone (if it’s after a first miscarriage). I know not everyone works at a fertility center, but is it OK to share resources that might be helpful? I want to do what’s right, but don’t always know how. Help us, the third parties, know what to and what not to say.
Perspective from the Outside
Motherhood and parenthood comes so easily and quickly for some, which is amazing and absolutely beautiful. For most, including myself, this is what you plan to happen. But 1 in 8 couples have to work, overcome a fear of needles, schedule appointments, and make tough decisions. They cry and they plan and pause plans, which can often feel like pausing life. All of this just to get pregnant. Sometimes, those pregnancies don’t last and they have to start all over again after grieving a miscarriage. And they don’t stop until they have a baby.
It takes so much courage, patience, determination, and fight for some to have a baby—to make that dream of sharing a pregnancy test and going from husband to father or wife to mother into a reality. As a third party watching from the outside, I commend each mother at heart, every mother to-be, and each mother who fought and fights to have a baby. You are strong and you are amazing.
It’s my job to make sure there is awareness—awareness that waiting longer to seek help when you are trying to have a baby and it just doesn’t seem to be working on your own isn’t the best option. Or even, awareness that if you’re not with fertility center or physician who is listening to your concerns and helping you achieve your dream, isn’t the best option. And please don’t wait.