Looking back, I miss the naiveté of my early 20s. Was I aware that I may have fertility issues? Absolutely. PCOS, hypothyroidism, a history of skin cancer, not to mention the multitude of other health issues that came about throughout my life were all reminders that someday I may struggle.
With a hopefulness that was almost childlike, I went out into the world and fell in love. After years of the ups and downs of the dating scene, the late nights out with girlfriends, and the numerous laughs and tears shared over glasses of wine, I had FINALLY found the one. He is charming and sweet and goofy, he never hesitated to remind me that I was beautiful or keep in touch with me throughout the days. While he doesn’t share my love of reading, he does share my love of history and sports (although in the name of full disclosure, he does have the worst taste in teams). We built a relationship on love, mutual respect and playful competitiveness that has given us many happy years together with the promise of many more to come. All the while going in and out of court room dramas fighting for custody of his son, we decided we wanted to also try for one of our own.
Months went by and then years, the first pill to swallow was losing a fallopian tube that was encased in a tumor. Having my ovaries flushed, the pills, the ultrasounds, bloodwork, the pelvic exams and the umpteenth appointment trying to have a doctor give me some glimmer of hope that I’m on the right track, only to be let down, and did I mention the bloodwork? Changing my eating and work out habits, which for my husband led to a forty pound weight drop while I’ve struggled to lose the measly seventeen pounds that I have. To say this whole experience has been frustrating is an understatement.
Imagine looking at the man you love and resenting him for something neither of you have control over, day in and day out. The “we’re a team” speech will eventually grate on your nerves, the well wishes and “there’s worse out there” will irritate you beyond all measure, and more than anything all you want is for one person to relate to. I was left with a sense that no one could understand how violated I felt, let alone understand the grueling process of trying to make myself void of any feeling just to stop the tears and anger that were beginning to overshadow my life.
Finally I had enough. Waking up one day, I looked at the man I love so deeply and told him I didn’t want to be with him or be a part of this marriage. The struggle had finally weakened me mentally to a point that I no longer wanted to bring him down with me. We had gone from being a team, to me drowning in a vastness of depression and soul gripping fear. I am not meant to be a mother. I am not meant to feel a child growing inside me, or hold a tiny ball of perfection that had beautifully melded our traits together. For me, this wasn’t our fight. This was my fight, and I was determined to do it alone.
Luckily for me, my husband wasn’t so quick to give up. Baby, no baby, he wanted me. Just imperfect, emotional me. After another wave of tests have now passed, I have now reached the point where they don’t know why I’m not conceiving. They do know that I’m now perfectly healthy, that if I continue with my diet and exercise that I’ll live a long full life, but for me this is just another blow to my psyche. To me, how can the God that I’ve prayed to all my life turn his back to me when I need him the most?
I won’t preach to you, or tell you how my faith made it all better and now I’m living a fortuitous life full of love and meaning. However, my faith made me realize that this, all of this, is beyond any realm of control I’ve had. It doesn’t make it easier to bear sometimes, but sometimes I can look in the mirror and say not yet. It’s not my time yet. God will make me more than “just the stepmom” and I will be a mother, whether to my own or to a bundle of joy that we adopt, or watch someone else carry through surrogacy. I’ve maintained a great circle of doctors who are going through this battle with me, I’ve started attending church more to give my soul and heart more peace, a psychologist to give my mind solace, and have learned that the team that I wanted to abandon was the one I needed the most.
My sweet Patrick, my best friend and confidante, the one who knows how to make my blood boil, but then laugh within minutes, the one who has endured everything in stride. This may be my body that is hurting and struggling, but the damage I’ve done to him is worse. I not only questioned the strength of our bond, but I questioned the strength of his love for me. With a crooked smile, he often shrugs and says “well you all are crazy, but you’re crazy I can handle.” With a quick jab of the elbow to his side and a loving kiss to my cheek, we have learned to carry on.
So for everyone that is struggling, for everyone that is clinging to shred of hope and optimism that one day they may get to be parents, just remember that this doesn’t define us. This is just among many bumps in the road that we call life. However I implore you to find the strength of your loved ones, take the time to heal your body and your mind. Maybe one day I’ll be a mom, maybe I won’t. One day I’ll either be successful or I’ll be content with the man by my side. Either way, we’re going through this battle, and for the thousands of us out there that are, we’re not alone. So even if only just for a moment, take a deep breath and smile because someone does understand, and someone is keeping you in their prayers and thoughts as we fight for this together.