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Challenge: Stop Mom Judging

Not Knowing "True Love"

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We hear it and read it often, “You don’t know true love until you have had a child.”

Where does that leave those of us who haven’t been able to parent in the traditional definition of the word?

Is there really not enough love to go around that those of us who desperately tried and wanted to parent do get in on it?

How do you then explain the love I feel for my babies that never took a breath of this earth’s fresh air?

I know this judgment is not my truth, and yet it can cut like a knife to my soul. I remember when I read these words from Lindsey Henke in her Still Standing post.

“But in my opinion a mother isn’t born when a child is born. A mother and father are born when the dream of a child is conceived.”

There will be some who will never ever consider me a mother. The ones who say I didn’t try enough. The ones who judge my decision to not adopt. The ones who say I must not have wanted to be a mother badly enough. The ones who say I didn’t lose because our three babies were only eight cell embryos.

I will never get full understanding from everyone, let alone validation. But, I will still speak my story and own all the parts of my story. And, I will continue to fight and break the shamed silence that surrounds infertility, miscarriage, infant loss and recovery.

But, I will not do so to convince the deniers, especially the deniers who say I will never know true love.

I will do so because if I don’t I simply am not living my ever upward.

If I don’t I am not practicing my recovery that I have fought like hell to get to.

If I don’t I am not honoring my babies.

I became a mother the minute I posted my ad on the surrogacy message board. I became even more of a mother when I met Michelle. I became even more of a mother when our embryos were transferred into her loving and mothering uterus. I became even more of a mother the days we received the call that none of our babies were strong enough to even implant.

I am a mother with empty arms here on this earth. I am a mother who parents her children on this side of eternity. I am a mother to many people and things in my life.

Simply, I too, was born a mother the day I dreamed of becoming one.

I am a childfree not by choice mother, who lives a childfull life.

And this too is true love.


Justine Brooks Froelker is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator (based on the research of Brené Brown) with a private practice in St. Louis, Missouri. She is the author of her book and blog, Ever Upward, and an advocate for breaking the shamed silence surrounding infertility, loss and recovery. She also writes for St. Louis Health & Wellness magazine, The Huffington Post and appears regularly on the mid-day television show Great Day St. Louis.

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