As you may have noticed, I’ve been on a hiatus for a little while. Life has basically been throwing me a few curb balls and sitting down to write something has been difficult. I try to keep this blog lighthearted, for the most part, but there’s been too much darkness these past few weeks – in the world, on the news, and recently, to a dear friend. Today, I was going to forget about the post again, and wait until the water cleared, but something makes me want to share. I started this post prior to the recent tragedy I learned about and the finished shortly after. The impact of these past few days will forever be part of me.
My favorite room in our house is Abby’s Room. I love sitting on her multicolored throw rug, just staring at the green walls, gray furniture, and detailed décor. It brings me back to the road that led to the Dr. Seuss sayings, the purple lettering spelling out her name, and gray crib that I knew she needed. And I smile as I remember the day we brought her home. But I also cry as it reminds me of the past and the struggles. It took so many tear-filled nights and fake smiles to get to where it is now.
We bought our home to fill with children. It was step two of our plan (step one was getting married, step 1.5 was getting a dog – our cat was part of the prologue. Step two – house. Step three – baby). We moved in, got settled and were ready to build our family. I played it smart – found a doctor first. Had a checkup and spoke about my plans. Everything was in order. I was healthy. We were cleared, in my mind, to start trying. I remember thinking how insane the concept of “trying” sounded. We weren’t going to “try to have a baby,” we were just going to have one – plain and simple. My doctor said if nothing happened for a year, then we could talk about other options. I saw no other option. This wasn’t going to take a year. It wasn’t even going to take months. It was happening. And then, the first month came and went. No baby. I shrugged it off. Then the second month. Still no baby. It was by the third month that I started blaming myself. It must be something I did to warrant this “complication.” So, I worked out harder. I stopped eating junk-food. And I stopped drinking (mostly) – hey, a girl has her needs, wine needs.
Every month had the same routine. Start out hopeful early on. Take an ovulation test daily. Try. Get disappointed. Cry. And repeat. And every month I would blame myself. Blame my body for not cooperating. Blame my mind for stressing out, which I was convinced was the reason nothing was happening in my uterus. It took a while for me to even admit this to John. I felt ashamed that my body was defying me. Having a baby is human nature – completely natural – but not for me it seemed. When I finally did let John in, he was amazing through it all. Trying his best to convince me that these things take time and it wasn’t my fault. We refrained from telling the world or anyone that we were “trying.” In the beginning, I think it was mostly due to my desire to surprise the world by our incredible news but towards the end, it was basically to avoid people asking for updates. I think I feared their judgments as to why it was taking so long more than anything. It sounds ridiculous now, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was my fault. Something I did. I was being punished for some wrong decision. And through all of this, it felt like almost everyone around me was announcing pregnancies or giving birth. It was as if the entire world had attended the fertility party and my invitation had been lost in the mail. I smiled through baby showers and birth announcements, and pretended that we weren’t ready to start our family when people asked.
And this brings us back to Abby’s room – or the empty room, as I was referring to it then, because even the thought of referring to it as “the future baby’s room” was far too painful. Originally, this room consisted of blue carpet (then stained with cat puke because apparently that’s how our cat responds to us making her move), bright blue walls, and empty space. At around month four of trying, I would walk into the empty room and bust into tears. Shortly after, I kept the door closed, at all times.
It took us nine months before the pregnancy test read positive. And it would be another six weeks after that before it would be deemed a “viable pregnancy” by my doctor. And it would be another 12 weeks before I would walk into that empty room and allow myself to dream about the day we’d bring our baby home and the memories she or he would create in this space. During the pregnancy, we would still be faced with some concerning signs later on – that luckily turned out to have no negative outcomes but felt like the world was crumbling at the time. But, I still allowed myself to let the fantasy live again.
“Trying for a baby” was probably one of the hardest mental struggles I have faced, especially since the world has conditioned me to believe that because I’m healthy and under 30, I should have no problem. I never wanted anything as much as I wanted this baby. I hadn’t even met my baby, felt my baby kick from inside, or heard the heartbeat, but I knew I needed this baby. I loved this baby before she even existed. To some, nine months may seem like nothing. And to others it may seem like a lifetime. I know people on both sides of the spectrum – those who got their baby with little effort and those still waiting, years later. And when things didn’t go as planned, I immediately assumed it was my fault. I was being punished. A friend told me she heard that the average woman gets pregnant within three months of trying and if it takes longer, their must be something wrong. But there wasn’t. We are and were both healthy. It just took longer than we expected or wanted. But every month I was crushed just made me want my baby even more.
And today, I sit in Abby’s room and remember. Remember the struggles. Remember crying over a child I didn’t know and worrying that the world was punishing me. And I remember fighting past it. And I remember convincing myself each month that it would happen. And I remember the day the test read positive. And I remember tearing up as John and I picked out paint colors before we knew gender. And I remember feeling her kick as I held onto her crib, just weeks away from her due date. And I remember her first night in her crib – and barely sleeping as I kept staring at the baby monitor. And now I sit, on her multicolored rug, and watch my baby girl sleep in my arms. And kiss her forehead as she drifts even more into dreamland.
Getting to this day, to this finished room, was my hardest challenge. But it was also my most rewarding. I know that there are people out there, people who may be reading this, who are still waiting for their own baby. I want to let you know that I’m sorry you are struggling. And I wish there was something I could say to make you feel better – and I wish someone had said that magic phrase to me during my struggle. But there are no words. I’m sorry that you’re struggling. I’m sorry that you feel alone in this fight. I’m sorry that it feels like the world is blanketed in fertility while you’re lying in the cold. Going back, I wish I had reached out to someone – aside from John. After Abby’s birth, I discovered other people who’s journey to parenthood was (or is still) long. I wish I didn’t let myself suffer alone. Reach out. Talk to someone, anyone. Everyone has a story – share yours and hear theirs.
As you can see, my story had a happy ending. But, unfortunately, not every story does. My heart breaks for those who haven’t gotten their baby yet, for those who are still trying and feel as though it is their fault, for those who had to say goodbye before even saying hello. My heart breaks. I’ve been struggling to wrap my mind around why the world would allow such pain to exist. I wish there was some thing I could say to make sense of it all, or some potion that would take away the pain. But there are no words. There are no potions. If anyone ever discovers it, please tell me, please tell the world. I want to say, I’m sorry you are hurting, struggling, and feel the world is going on when you’re standing still.
“A person’s a person, no matter how small”
― Dr. Seuss, Horton Hears a Who!