I have been pregnant twice. But, when I exited the maternity ward, I carried out with me the shreds of my broken heart instead of a small bundle of joy. Two pregnancies, two miscarriages, years of waiting, months of testing, one final diagnosis, years of treatments, and one final surgery later … I am infertile. And I’m OK with that.
It took me nearly a decade to be OK with my infertility, and once I found peace, the sadness didn’t go away entirely. But I have learned that peace and pain can actually coexist quite comfortably. I’ve also learned that there is more than one successful ending to an infertility story. We usually only hear about one happy ending – the miracle pregnancy resulting in a chubby baby and delighted parents. But that’s just one story – one happy ending – of many, equally wonderful, possibilities.
The end-all-be-all miracle ending to infertility isn’t a biological child. When we cling to that as the only hope and the only answer or miraculous outcome, we’ve sold our story short and put our life in a box. At some point, all of us who live with infertility must ask ourselves the same question…
“What if I never get pregnant and have a baby?”
That question needs to be asked and answered because, for many women with infertility, that will be reality. During the toughest parts of my journey, I actually found stories of women getting pregnant after years of infertility to be discouraging and frustrating. I think I knew somewhere deep inside that wasn’t going to be my story, but it was being presented as the best possible outcome. And doesn’t everyone want the best for their lives? So, what did that mean for me and for all the other couples who would never deliver a biological child? Were we doomed to a second-best life? Where were the stories of victory and hope that didn’t include getting pregnant and having a baby?
I found my way on my own… through a lot of late night tears, desperate prayers, and constant soul-searching. I came to a place of quiet acceptance of my infertility. And slowly that acceptance turned to hope… hope that there was something amazing out there for me and it just looked a little different… hope that my best life didn’t need to look like someone else’s best life.
In the end, I got my miracle. It just didn’t come home from the hospital all pink and squishy, wrapped up in a tiny blanket. God showed his goodness to me too, but not in the form of a purple plus sign and a big round belly.
My miracle came in the quiet nights when my pillow soaked with tears and I was able to say, and believe, “God, you are good. I know you love me.” It came when I was finally able to attend baby showers without dissolving into tears in the guest bathroom. It came when I recognized the growth in myself and the beautiful effect that this particular story had on my heart: things like resilience, compassion, empathy, grace, love, and perseverance. My miracle came with every day that I chose trust and hope while I shifted my perspective of what life should look like. Choosing joy and faith and hope in the midst of incredible heartbreak is its own little miracle.
I still got my “miracle babies." Instead of ultrasounds and blood tests we filled out mounds of paperwork and submitted fingerprints for background checks. Rather than a gender reveal, we celebrated our referral. Instead of mapping hospital routes, we bought plane tickets to Ethiopia. Instead of a noisy delivery room, we waited quietly in a somber courthouse. Instead of bringing home tiny newborns in a fog of post-delivery exhaustion, we brought home 5-month-olds in a fog of jet lag. But our joy was just as complete.
So, to you, the woman who is struggling with infertility and wondering, “what if I never have a baby?” I can assure you that your story still matters and you still have miracles waiting. You may never get pregnant and that might feel like the worst thing in the world today. I understand and I hurt with you. I don’t want to promise you anything or give you false hope. I just want to say that if your infertility doesn’t end with pregnancy… you matter and your story matters and there is something else (whether adoption or foster care or something entirely different and unimaginable to you now) waiting just for you. One day it won’t hurt as bad as it does now. One day you will find your place and your path and you will feel confident and at peace with it. And it will be beautiful.
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