Do you have kids?
It’s a question anybody over a certain age gets any time they make conversation when meeting somebody new. The question in itself is harmless enough. But for someone who has struggled to start a family of their own, it can stir up all kinds of emotions. It can bring back the unspoken pain of infertility and of trying for months, or even years, to get pregnant and never getting those two pink lines or a plus sign. And when the answer is a regretful ‘no’, an awkward silence usually follows.
Once somebody reaches a certain age, people just start to assume that said person just doesn’t want children. They never take into consideration the fact that maybe that person wants kids more than just about anything, but it just hasn’t happened. What’s worse is the sympathy and unhelpful comments when you explain to others your struggles.
Years of Trying
For six years, my husband and I have been trying to start a family. That first year or two were extremely emotional as I held onto hope that it was just taking a bit longer than it did for most. With every passing month that a pregnancy didn’t happen, my hope diminished a little bit more. During my yearly visit to my OB/GYN, I mentioned that we’d been trying for 18 months without any success. The doctor ordered some tests, and when the tests came back normal, and still a pregnancy didn’t happen, I wondered why? Surely something was wrong, right?
By the third year, I started to numb myself to the fact that it just wasn’t going to happen. If I numbed myself and told myself that a pregnancy was never going to happen, it wouldn’t tear me up inside. Hubby and I decided to start looking into adoption. In the back of my mind, though, I still felt guilty for robbing him of the chance of biological children. I expressed that, and he assured me that he didn’t feel that he was being robbed at all. He put to rest the fear I had of not being good enough.
As we continued to look into adoption agencies, the occasional late cycle would renew my hope of becoming pregnant on my own. With each day that passed with no sign of a period, my mind would start to think what if this is it? Every little thing that was out of the ordinary would find its way into a Google search.
Anybody who has struggled knows the sad comedy of symptom spotting. Of visiting baby boards to see if what you are experiencing is a possible early sign of pregnancy.
Period 5 days late.
Cycle late, extremely tired.
Is lack of appetite a sign of pregnancy?
Nauseous after eating. Could I be pregnant?
No sign of period, 4 days late.
Boobs aren’t sore. Could I still be pregnant?
The list goes on and on. Every. Single. Little. Thing. gets looked up almost obsessively. Pregnancy boards get read on topics where others have asked similar questions, and the answers get picked over with a fine tooth comb.
That sounds like me. We think to ourselves.
Anybody whose cycle is late also understands holding off from buying a pregnancy test for as long as possible. For me, it is always five days late. I refrain from taking it for another couple of days, but in the back of my mind, I am already expecting the negative that always ends up being the result. Of course, there is always that little piece of me that wonders if maybe, just maybe it will be positive. And when it is negative again, I can’t be too disappointed because I’ve already given up; but not enough to stop the thoughts from creeping into my mind that maybe the test is wrong. Maybe I tested too soon.
And then, eventually, the dreaded monthly ‘friend’ shows up. It’s almost a relief because the obsessiveness can stop. At the same time, it is yet another disappointment added to the list of many. Because let’s face it, as much as anyone in this situation prepared ourselves for this, it doesn’t take away the fact that we never lose the hope that one day, it will be our turn.
It doesn’t take away the tears, and the wondering what we’ve done wrong to deserve this devastation.
It doesn’t stop us from wondering why horrible people in the world are able to have children, but we aren’t.
Our friends and family will try to comfort us by saying things like:
It will happen when it is supposed to.
If you quit trying/thinking about it, it will happen when you least expect it.
Let me just say that these are about the worst things that somebody could say to someone who desperately wants to get pregnant. Especially when it comes from somebody who has had children. I realize the comments are well-meaning, but they don’t help. It just makes the sadness dig deeper. Ask anybody who has been trying unsuccessfully, and I would bet that most of them will agree.
For those that pregnancy comes easily for, they don’t realize that the thinking never stops. That we hold in tears any time somebody close to us announces that they are pregnant, waiting until we are alone to let those tears fall. That we lay in bed awake at night thinking about the photos posted on social media of our friend’s newborn babies, wishing it was us posting the photos.
Of course, we are happy for our friends, family, and colleagues, but a part of us is jealous and there is an aching in our heart that doesn’t ever truly go away. We try to keep a distance from these hurts whenever possible, not to be insensitive, but to protect ourselves. We wonder why some people can so easily have three, four, five or more children, but we can’t even get pregnant with one.
A Family at Last
I’ve accepted the fact long ago that pregnancy likely isn’t in the cards for me. I’ve come to terms with it and it no longer hurts as bad. I’d be lying if I said I don’t still want it and that there is always a little bit of longing. After long talks with the hubby, we’ve agreed that adoption is the right path for us if we aren’t able to conceive naturally. It’s a decision we both accept and are happy with.
Just last week, hubby and I mailed in our application for adoption from foster care. We have hope that we will be parents one day soon, and we will be welcoming a sweet child into our home to love, protect, and cherish. I’ve started looking at furniture for her room, and toys that she might like to play with. For the first time ever, I get excited looking at decorations, clothes, and cute stuffed animals. I’m looking forward to going out shopping and letting our future child pick out things she would like for her new room.
The adoption process can take up to 18 months, maybe longer. There is still a long road ahead of us, but every day brings us one step closer. The day we get that phone call, letting us know that there is a child waiting for us, will be one of the happiest of our lives. Until then, we will be anxiously waiting for that day to come where we can complete our family.