Facing the reality of my own infertility and the fact that I can’t have any more kids is just so hard.
She turns to me, her eyes shining bright with excitement, her skin already glowing with the secret she can’t hold in any longer. “I’m pregnant!” she squeals. My arms automatically wrap around her, this girl who I call my best friend but who has been more like a sister to me for the past decade of our lives. As my tears of joy start to fall, there’s a stray tear of sadness for myself mixed among them. Every time someone shares with the the happy news of their pregnancy, I’m thrilled for them. But at the same time it means facing the reality of my own infertility and the fact that I can’t have any more kids.
My best friend and I experienced our first pregnancies together and had our boys within a few months of each other—she, a singleton, me, twins. But our paths to parenthood were very different. Hers was super smooth—she basically snapped her fingers and was pregnant. I, on the other hand, had a much harder time conceiving, but finally became pregnant with twin boys. But even my pregnancy itself was difficult: I went into premature labor at 27 weeks. The doctors managed to convince the babies to stay put inside me, but I had to remain on strict bed rest until my twins were born. They made their debut at 33 weeks and spent time in the NICU before coming home. Fortunately they are healthy now, at three-years-old, but because of the complications I had both in getting pregnant and in keeping the pregnancy viable, my doctor has recommended that I not pursue having any more children.
I’m in a stage of life where everyone around me, all my friends and the parents of my children’s classmates, are having their second child. Since I’m one of the only moms around who has a flatish tummy or doesn’t have a newborn in her arms, the question of when I’m going to be pregnant again tends to come up a lot. I’m 32, I present as a healthy female, and I love kids, so I understand why people ask me when I’m going to have another baby. Especially because I have twin boys, people always ask if I’m hoping for a daughter.
|I tell myself to be grateful that I know that feeling at all instead of being bitter over the fact that I’ll never experience it again.|
I know these questions come from a good place and that no one’s trying to intentionally hurt me, but every time someone asks me why I’m not pregnant or trying to get pregnant is like a taking a knife to the heart. It’s a reminder that there’s something wrong with me, that I’m not a fully functioning woman. I don’t want to break down and cry in the middle of school drop-off, nor do I want to share the intimate details of my medical history with a mom I only know from preschool. When I get questions like these I tend to avoid the conversation by saying something like, “Maybe,” or “We’re thinking about it.”
But for the rest of the day I’m a bit off-kilter as I imagine what it would be like if I could get pregnant again like everyone else. I feel my stomach bubble with a bit of indigestion and try to recall what it was like to feel the flutter of tiny feet inside of me. I tell myself to be grateful that I know that feeling at all instead of being bitter over the fact that I’ll never experience it again.
Sometimes I’m at peace with my doctor’s edict: after all, I only have two hands so I don’t quite know how I’d walk through a parking lot with three kids in tow. Another child would require getting a bigger car, and to be honest my backing-up skills are already pretty awful. It’s just that I’m struggling with how much of this is out of my control. So as much as I’m thrilled for my best friend to watch her experience the miracle of life growing inside of her all over again, if I’m being truly honest there is part of me that’s just a teeny, tiny bit envious too.
|I don’t understand why I was chosen to carry this burden.|
When it’s someone I see in the store or even a parent who I interact with at church or at the school who’s pregnant, I can maintain a safe distance. I can be happy for them, but protect my own emotions. But this isn’t a pregnant stranger who I can envy from afar. She’s my best friend. We were in each other’s weddings, we know each other’s deepest secrets. I can count on her to always tell me the truth about how my butt looks in jeans. I love her, and I already love the life that’s growing inside her too. I’ll see this pregnancy up close and personal, and that’s going to require putting my own feelings aside. After all, you really can’t be jealous of something when it’s impossible for you to have it yourself, right?
I don’t understand why I was chosen to carry this burden, but I know that although my womb may be empty, my life is very full. I’m so fortunate to have two little boys that call me mom, and I remind myself daily that there are couples who are still struggling with infertility to have even one child when I’ve already been blessed with two. And I realize that family isn’t just defined by blood alone. Being so close to my best friend and her son at times it feels like having another child of my own. Getting to be Aunty Meg to this new baby will be a gift to me just as much as it’s a gift to my friend.
I’m going to throw her an amazing shower, and I’ll bake her all the pumpkin flavored treats she’s craving this fall. I’ll paint her toenails when she can’t see them anymore and I’ll insist that she’s glowing, even if it’s just sweat. I want her to have the calmest, most comfortable pregnancy that she possibly can. And when I see her wearing my old maternity sweaters I will try to be grateful that they are being put to good use instead of wondering why it’s not my own baby bump that’s filling them instead.
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