I don’t attend baby showers. I avoid walking down the baby aisle. And I do not put my hands on a pregnant woman’s belly.
Why, you might ask. Because it has taken me too long to find myself and there’s no need to go back. I simply cannot allow that part of my heart to become vulnerable again….
When I was in the midst of my infertility battle, it seemed that everyone around me was getting pregnant. I tried so hard to be supportive. I was happy for the moms-to-be, albeit a bit jealous. But I wanted to celebrate with them and so, I went to the baby showers.
I smiled and commented on the adorable little clothes and tried to avoid eye contact. Because if you looked into my eyes, you would see the deep pain that was always there. That longing to have my own child… Tears just below the surface.
On one occasion, I agreed to collect the money and go shopping for the baby gift. As the shower grew nearer, I simply could not bear the thought of driving to the store that contained all things baby and browsing the aisles to find the perfect little gifts. I was starting to panic.
Because I wasn’t brave enough to express my fears face-to-face, I sent an email to my department members and asked if one of them would please do the shopping. They knew I was struggling with infertility and luckily, they were kind. Within the hour, they had swooped in to get the money I collected and promised to do the shopping. Their genuine concern for my well-being was amazing. Even more incredible, they did not judge or ridicule or make me feel silly for not having the strength to buy some diapers.
Unfortunately, not everyone is so understanding…
At a family function, my cousin made the surprise announcement that she was pregnant. Every female in the room yelled in excitement and ran towards her, smiling and hugging and congratulating. Well, every female except me. I ran away to lock myself in the bathroom and cry.
I don’t know how long I was in there. It took all the strength I had to stop sobbing, to dry my tears, and to stay at that family event instead of fleeing as fast as I could out the front door. I wanted to be happy for her. I was happy for her. But I was so sad for myself—for what I couldn’t seem to do no matter how hard I tried or how much money I spent.
I don’t think my cousin has ever forgiven me for ruining her special day. She was so angry that I made the day about me, when it should have been all about her. I didn’t mean to take the spotlight. But at that moment, the emotions that were always right below the surface burst through and there was nothing I could do to stop them.
Know your limits…
So, for me, staying strong—even now that I have accepted my infertility—means knowing my limits. For me, that means I don’t attend baby showers or walk down the baby aisle or put my hands on a pregnant woman’s belly. For me, it means I don’t even hold babies anymore.
A co-worker brought her adorable little one to work and I really wanted to hold that baby. But I knew better. So, I just let that squishy little guy wrap his tiny chubby hand around my finger and oh no… There it was. That pang in my heart, the longing, and the tears pricking my eyes.
So, when I say staying strong means knowing my limits, I am not joking. Even one little tiny hand wrapped around my finger weakens my resolve—my acceptance of my infertility.
Because of this, I keep on walking when people bring their babies to work. I smile and say how cute they are and keep on walking…. Please, do not think me rude. I am just trying to protect my heart.
I did after school duty the first week of school for a co-worker who had a baby at home. I knew it was her first week away from her little and I didn’t want her to have to wait an extra thirty minutes to go see that incredible bundle of joy.
I handled department chair duties for a co-worker when she was out on maternity leave. But I didn’t go to the party she threw to introduce the baby to her friends and family.
And I watch your kids from afar on social media, liking their pictures and enjoying the sweet family time you have together.
But I can’t stop long to look at your life because I have to live my life. And my life includes being infertile. No baby for me. But that’s okay. God simply gave me a different path. I just have to keep moving forward…
I have to say “no” to some things so that I can say “yes” to others—yes to my life as a dog mom, a host mom, an aunt, and a wife… Saying “no” protects my heart and doesn’t let me fall back into that pit. It took me a long time to climb out and I don’t want to go back….
So, I’ll just spend my time in boutique pet stores and hold all the puppies I can get my hands on!
I know my limits and I am strong.
World Childless Week – Sept 11-17, 2017
Recently, an announcement for World Childless Week came across my newsfeed. Being an infertile woman, I want to connect with other people who understand what it feels like to be childless. Because WCW’s goal is to increase awareness and understanding about childless not by choice, I liked their page in order to become a part of the WCW community. When Stephanie Phillips, the woman who started the WCW movement, asked me to write a guest blog for World Childless Week, I eagerly accepted. My hope with Not So Mommy…™ is to inspire others to be their authentic selves by telling my infertility story. WCW has a similar goal and I am so excited to be a part of this group! Please, check out their Facebook page at World Childless Week and join the childless not by choice conversation!
Photo Credit: Ian L with Freerange