To recognize National Infertility Awareness Week, we bring you this post from Melissa of Okayest Mom.
Have you struggled with infertility? I understand.
Have you had miscarriages? I empathize.
Have you wanted to run over the “Expectant Mother Parking” signs in parking lots? Me too.
Have you gone through IVF? The adoption process? I get it.
After having been infertile for almost a decade, I now finally have three small children, none of whom were created in my own body (one is adopted from someone else’s body; two are from petri dishes).
I can empathize with those of you who are begging for children, and also those of you who are begging for five minutes away from your children (even if you have to hide in the bathroom with that jar of Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter and an US Weekly). I know what it’s like to cry at a poster of a baby in Walmart because you desperately want one yourself, and I know what it’s like to cry because your children won’t stop crying.
After finally having had success with adoption and with IVF (twins!) within the space of two years, I can totally identify with the adoptive moms and the moms of multiples.
I know what it’s like to have black and white children as my three boys are of various races and genetic makeup.
I know what it’s like to wait years for a baby. I also know what it’s like to bring a baby home all of a sudden, after a birthmother picked me only three days prior.
I also know what it’s like to suffer through the endless nine months of torturous twin pregnancy and bed rest, feeling like it will never end.
I know what it feels like to be fingerprinted for an adoption home study, to suffer through painful fertility procedures, and to try to go to sleep one night knowing that the baby inside you has died.
Life never calms down: Melissa and her son feed the twins (Okayest Mom)
But I also know what it feels like to sniff that newborn’s head and want to eat him. I know what it feels like to get an hour or two of sleep a night for seven months. I know that surge in my heart when my children giggle, or run to me, or hug each other, or turn a single-syllable word into four syllables.
I understand the pain and the joy of so many of you moms out there. By the bad luck of my own biology, and by the miracles of adoption and modern science, I am all of you.
You know what I don’t know?
I don’t know what it feels like to hold any of my babies on the first day of each of their lives. (Due to adoption paperwork and a near-death childbirth experience, I still have weird misplaced guilt about missing those first days with all three of my children.)
I don’t know what it feels like to go into labor and give birth. (I had a cesarean section with the twins.)
I don’t know what it feels like to have two children. We went from one to three instantly.
I don’t know what it feels like to have a pregnancy without fear.
I don’t know what it feels like to make a baby for free, or to make a baby in my husband’s arms, or in my own bed.
I don’t know what it feels like to worry about birth control choices, costs, or side effects.
I don’t know what it feels like to carry a single baby to term.
I don’t know why our birthmother chose us.
I don’t know how to teach my black and white sons about race.
And you know what? None of it matters. What I know, what I don’t know – maybe it doesn’t really matter. If I could go back to my childless and hurting self, what would I want myself to know? What do I want you to know?
I want you and I to know that we are mothers long before our children arrive. We become mothers the moment we decide we want to be mothers.
I want us to know that it doesn’t matter in what body our children arrive. If their souls are meant to be in our family, they will come.
I want us to know that the pain is only temporary.
I want us to know that someday, although the acute pain of infertility will fade, we will refuse to forget. We are going to remember the hurt, on purpose, so that we might strengthen others who are forced to follow us.
I want us to know that so many women out there understand what we are enduring. I want us to open our hearts to each other and embrace our shared pains and joys and hopes. It’s going to be okay.
I know this because I’m an Okayest Mom!
This post was originally published in April, 2015.
After eight childless years, Okayest Mom is a stay-at-home mom to three small boys of various races and genetic makeup, none of whom were created in her body (one is adopted from someone else’s body; two are from petri dishes). Okayest Mom has survived postpartum hemorrhage, as well as having three children in diapers simultaneously. Both almost killed her.She calls herself “Okayest Mom” because she isn’t trying to be the best at anything, and also because she really is finally okay. She stays sane by ranting on her blog, OkayestMomBlog.com. She is a regular contributor to Beyond Infertility, a website about parenting after infertility. You can also join her on Facebook.
Photos from Okayest mom and iStock
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.