Sometimes it feels like you are the only one.
The only one with this longing. This heartache. This inability and void. In fact, all it takes is walking down the aisles of the grocery store, looking around in your church congregation, or simply sitting down in a restaurant for dinner in order for it to seem obvious, right? Everyone else has a cart full, a pew filled, or a booth overflowing with tiny little humans they call their own. And you can’t help but take notice and then immediately feel as though you are the only one.
The only one with empty arms…and a bedroom that should be a nursery. The only one who can’t join in on the conversations of motherhood…or just look at her husband and “BAM” get pregnant. The only one who is frustrated because your body can’t do what it was created to do, or accomplish what comes so naturally to others. But the body of the person not hoping, praying, or even wanting to create another life can.
There is no doubt that Infertility is isolating. It causes you to feel like an outcast, a leper, that no one understands. I, too, have felt alone and as though I was the only one. The only one who is digging out yesterday’s test out of the trashcan to get a second glance…you know, just in case. Or the only one who is walking down the baby aisles and touching the onesies, picking up the booties, and wondering when. And then asking why. All the while wondering if it’s because you are unworthy, or your faith is too weak, your prayers not enough, or your past too damning.
However, one day my heart was opened to see something more. Something different.
It was several years ago while sitting on the beach for a much-needed vacation; I was surrounded by picture-perfect families when I couldn’t help but feel as though everyone else around me could have babies so easily except for me. But as I sat there pondering on the unfairness of it all, while allowing myself to grieve and even feel the ickiness that bitterness carries, I let the truth sink in that 1 in 8 couples really do suffer from infertility. Too often we hear statistics and brush them to the side, but sometimes it’s good to entertain them.
Because at that moment, I realized the momma next to me who was chasing her two-year-old could have been conceived after her fourth and last desperate attempt via IVF. And the family of five building sandcastles and laughing until their bellies hurt? They could have built their family through adoption. Or the couple to my right could have been given their miracle through the gift of surrogacy. I just didn’t know. Things aren’t always what they seem. Just ask the lady who was sitting next to me whom I discovered was also barren, yet hopeful. She didn’t know the cutie patootie that kept running up to me yelling, “Mommy! Did you see that?” was my 4-year-old foster princess who may or may not be with us the following year. She saw a happy family of three. But what she perceived to be true, wasn’t the truth. Because while I was being called “mommy” that title was being threatened. And possibly lost.
The one lesson I continue to learn throughout the course of the last decade of trying to grow my family is that I don’t know another person’s story or the struggles they are facing. I don’t know the barriers people have had to bust through or the mountains they have had to climb in order to get to where they are now. And as a result, I can’t be so quick to compare and judge, or so swift to believe the lie that I am the only one who is hurting and left out. Because the fact is, I am 1 in 8. The lady sitting beside me was also 1 in 8. And many of the families surrounding me that day? They could have been 1 in 8 as well.
There is always more to what we can see; and I believe that our lives would be so much more hopeful and less stressful if we chose to expand our perceptions. Because for me, on that day while digging my toes into the sand, but bitterness into my heart, I allowed myself to ponder on the possibilities of the situation, and when I did, my eyes were opened to new perspectives and my heart was filled with hope. A hope that was soon accompanied by a sense of peace, even a little joy, that it won’t always be the way that it is right now.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on waitingforbabybird.com.
Featured Image by Anthony Tran