Disclaimer: I will not do posts like this every week. Sure, we sit around our table and talk about the fun stuff like food, design, art, fashion, and jewelry, but every once in a while we get serious. We support one another and do our best to lift one another up. In an effort to do the same for the readers, I am getting a little vulnerable today.
Last week, I read a post from one of my favorite bloggers and made the mistake of going through the comments. For years, Erin Gates of Elements of Style has written a lifestyle and design blog sprinkled with candid posts in which she details her struggles with anorexia, anxiety, and infertility. She doesn’t hold back in an effort to reach out to others who may be going through the same experiences. Last year, she and her husband were finally able to conceive using IVF. She has detailed everything from feeling guilt, unfulfilled expectations, and loss through this whole process, and has poured out her heart so that others may find comfort in the knowledge that they are not alone.
In her latest post, she detailed how being a mother, writing a blog, and handling a career was overwhelming and she had days in which she feels like she is falling apart. As I read through the piece, I scrolled down to the comments and couldn’t believe the embittered responses she was receiving after sharing feelings that I am sure other mothers go through. People called her out for being arrogant and entitled because of the privileges she has in raising her child. Others chimed in that she should “suck it up” and “power on”. Others pointed out that she has no right to be overwhelmed at having a child after going through years of infertility. I was shocked at the criticism and shame that people brought on her, and I mourn the fact that mothers and aspiring mothers don’t spend more time building one another up.
I too am treading the mirky waters of infertility and it stinks. It really stinks. The feelings of pain, empty expectation, and fleeting time are made worse when you think that you are the only one going through them. It is a lonely road to walk, and seeing these ugly comments made me understand why more women feel afraid to open up about their struggles in motherhood. It made me realize that in starting this blog with my best ladies, I have a platform in which I can open a door that has been kept closed for fear of sounding bitter or unthankful. I guess that the only place to start is by sharing my own story and going from there:
The Mister and I were married in 2010, and I remember sitting down and laying out a good time to have a kid. In my ignorance, I remember saying the words, “I want to be pregnant before I reach the age of 30.” How silly that sounds to my almost 33 year old self who now just hopes for a child at all. During the first year of marriage, we decided to have fun and just enjoy each other before adding another tiny human into the mix. As the next year went by, we didn’t really start trying, but also didn’t work to prevent it. I certainly wouldn’t have minded getting pregnant, but their was also this fear that made me wonder if I was really ready. A couple more years went by and not preventing became actively trying. No results made it clear that something was wrong. I am sure I am not the only woman who resisted finding out from a doctor that something wasn’t right, because then the whole thing would become too real. Every month came and went and that one line on the pregnancy test became more and more pronounced while my friends, family members, and co-workers were all able to get pregnant in what seemed like the drop of a hat.
I finally made the decision to go to my doctor to find out what was going on and sure enough, our fear became reality. It was going to be hard for us to conceive. My husband is unbelievably supportive, but he is the first to admit that he does not possess the same kind of yearning that I have. My parents and in-laws are so patient, and I am thankful for their respect in letting Nate and I figure out how to proceed without feeling the need to push us. Even though they have given us the space to deal with this situation in our own way, I know they would love to get that phone call. I hate not being able to give that to them.
Social situations often become painful, because inevitably people want to talk about their children or ask you why you don’t have kids yet. My friends like to compare their pregnancies and their birth stories. Comments are made with the best intentions that remind you that you don’t have kids. I have even stopped watching TV shows in which a character gets pregnant, because even though I know it is fake, I am ticked that it happened so easily for them. What was once a small hope for Nate and my future has become a harsh and glaring reality that vests itself in everyday situations.
The guilt is the worst part. I feel terrible for wincing when someone is bringing up their journey in motherhood. I have struggled with becoming emotional with my husband when there is nothing he can do to fix it right now. I fear making my friends and family feel like they have to tiptoe around this issue when they are around me.
I could go on and on with the emotions that I have experienced in this journey, but what I really want the reader to know is that you are not alone in your struggle. Whether you are having trouble conceiving or just overwhelmed with motherhood, you are not on your own. Feeling and sharing hard times doesn’t mean that you are selfish. It also doesn’t mean that others who have kids aren’t going through their own set of struggles. My own hope and faith has helped me through this struggle and I would love to share this with anyone who is interested.
To those who wrap around and support your friends, family, or co-workers who are struggling with this, thank you. To the women who have the courage to talk about their own experiences, I cannot tell you how your words have been the quiet in my own storm. To my girls across the table, thank you for always giving me the space to struggle through this without criticism and judgement.