My good friend wrote an amazing post today in response to National Infertility Awareness Week that was April 20th-26th. Though that week has passed, her message is still one that I think is inspiring especially this week leading up to Mother's Day.
Her story is a different one than you may be used to hearing because unlike going through the trial of infertility with a spouse, she is a single young woman who found out at a young age after many surgeries that she may never have biological children of her own. To find out that your hopes of becoming a mother were dashed when you never even had a chance is heartbreaking. But my friend is incredible and her message is one that I think we can all appreciate and relate to; that we are all mothers, no matter our circumstances. We can be a powerful woman influence in the lives of those around us. I'm so incredibly grateful to have my friend write for me today and think her story is beautiful and powerful. I hope you take the time to read her words and be inspired as much as I have been.
I'm that girl who can put any baby to sleep. I follow children around as if they are pots of gold. Children have always been “my thing”. Babysitting- check. Nursery leader- check. Sunbeam Teacher- check. Nanny of 4 – check. Since a young age, I dreamed of my own children. I laid out my life as if I was truly the one in charge. I knew every detail of my wedding, the names of my four children, where we would live, what characteristics of mine they would have, etc. etc. etc. I would be the super mom and they would be super kids. Curing cancer, winning championships, defending the lonely kids…they would do it all. I knew I was cut out for this parenting thing.
At 17 years old, I had a series of doctor appointments. Lots of experimental medications. Lots of blood draws. And one minor surgery. And one TERRIBLE day. It was a Sunday night at 5:38 p.m. and my mom told me Dr. Jane Doe said I would never be able to bear children.
A couple weeks go by from my surgery and a beautiful tragedy happened. Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, Louisiana. My town set up a shelter for the thousands of people who were now without homes or any physical belongings. I ditched school to go check it out. It was love at first sight. There was a little 6 year-old boy named Jakeem. He thought I was his girlfriend…I may have been okay with that. I spent every day with four children whose parents were going through HELL. While chatting with an old lady about my tragic news, she replied, "Well sweetie, we all gots to go through something and it seems like God may have just another plan for you". Umm..Thanks??? This is only the worst news ever. But moments later those sweet babies ran up to me. And that's when I knew. My ability to be a mother was never dependent on that stupid uterus and its ability (or inability) to actually work. My ability to be a mother is the most sacred of all callings. It couldn't be stopped by some technical difficulty.
As I was thinking of what to write I knew I wanted to tell my story, though I was unsure of what part. I've seen several articles on Twitter this week. “How to talk about infertility”, “On the kinds of infertility”, “On a state- by-state comparison for treatment”, “On the myths of infertility”…(for those who still believe that hot tubs are the cause)
So I just want to be raw. One of the reasons I adamantly follow Megan’s blog is due to her complete honesty. So here it is: the naked truth about infertility.
First of all, being at BYU was probably the hardest university I could have chosen if I was seeking to avoid my feelings about my predicament.
I suffered through some of those inevitable dumb moments that make you shake your head (sometimes your fist) and mostly just cry in a dark and empty corner. Those moments where a friend says "well at least you won't know the pain of pregnancy.” (Though, to date, I have had six surgeries and one lasting 14 days so I'm pretty sure I'm acclimated with pain) Or the moment you watch all your best friends have babies and feel selfish for having that one ounce of jealousy. Or the moment that your boyfriend finds out your body is broken. Or the moment someone at a summer church activity asks you if the scars on your stomach are from an abortion. (I mean, given this dude was a complete moron, but ouch!). Or the moment you lose your sculpted abs and get 9 ugly scars with no sweet baby to prove the worth of it all. Or the moment where a sacrament talk compares childbirth to the Atonement. Or those million moments of loneliness.
Yeah, I’ve been there.
Here's where I went next. The wisest counsel was given by my therapist. Who would have thought?! I would tell people I had made peace with my situation, but my actions showed otherwise. She asked if I ever yelled at God about it. Seeing as she and I were both LDS I was shocked. I immediately thought, “Men are that they might have joy. I will have joy. I will be grateful. I don’t get angry. I would never question God.” She insisted I show some kind of emotion. So I did. It happened to be at a time right before surgery number 5, which was a horrible, miserable, depressing one. So I got mad. I raised my voice at God. I cried. I sobbed. I struggled and wrestled more than ever before. He listened. He is completely okay with the struggle. My complete mourning was met by a Savior who understood more than I can ever say. He can take it folks. He is strong. Our frustrations are okay by Him as long as we are struggling WITH Him by our side. He wants to provide the answers. He did indeed create us. He did indeed know that some of us would go through life with this specific pain. This means He also chose to go through it. He knows that feeling as you sit nervously in a doctor’s office. He knows the feeling of the shots. Of the complete lack of privacy. Of the 25+ exams. Of the anxiety before test results. Of the failed pregnancy tests. Of the miscarriages. Of the physically excruciating pain. He knows all of those feelings.
I don’t think I need to write what to say or what not to say. We don’t need another article on the myths. I think we all should realize that in the midst of whatever pain we have He can take it. He is outside of human weakness. He is complete love. So He gets it. Let Him get it. Let's all remember to treat others the way we would want to be treated. You never know what your neighbor is going through. It’s hard to see the pain behind the smile. There is a lot of pain in this world and there is no need for us to be jabbing one another with unkindness, whether it be gossip or judgment or cunning words. Be patient with those around you, and more so, with yourself.
Lastly, I will briefly touch on identity. This was the hardest and continues to be the most trying of all. Who am I? Who am I if I don't have my own children? Who am I if the children I adopt have adaptation issues? Who am I if my husband snaps at me about how this is my fault? Who am I if my children say the dreaded “I wish I had my real mom”? Who am I if I never have children at all?
I have a really long list of things to do in this life. I am 100% sure being a mother is on that list. Being a mother is an eternal calling without earthly limitations. I can nurture. I can teach. I can love in a way only He loves. I can mourn. I can comfort. I can lead. I can watch. I can listen. I can show. I can teach my step-sister how to cook. I can read a book to the boy next door. I can get on the ground and play with the screaming kid in line at the store. I can prepare beautiful meals for my friends. I can have a really strong shoulder to cry on for when my roommate is dumped. I can pray for my niece and nephew and love them with a love that is larger than life. I can preach to young girls and mature women everywhere that beauty is not a number on a scale. I can teach my friends about Jesus Christ.
I still daydream about my family, but they are not picture perfect anymore. I still picture four kids. They don't look like me. In fact, they are from four different countries. They don't always sit still in church because my oldest son has drugs in his body from his biological mom. My daughter has messy hair from rocking herself to sleep because she had another nightmare from her traumatic six months in an orphanage. My two year old was asked why he has darker skin than his mommy. He doesn't understand. And finally, my baby won't stop crying because she doesn't digest my fake breast milk well. But I know I love them. I haven't met them but I know who they are. They are mine. We were best friends in Heaven and I couldn't wait to spend time with them on Earth no matter how rocky the road to find them. I am grateful God has trusted me to love without bounds. I know He knows me because He knows that love is my thing. So this obstacle which sometimes feels like literal Hell is actually God’s way of saying "hey I know you. You're mine. And together we will work mighty miracles. Through the power of love."
You see, I can be a mother. Because I already am.