I see you.
I see the glance at another woman’s round belly, how that split-second image sears pain into your heart. How it’s all you can think about for the rest of the day.
I see the cringe when a ripple of children’s laughter floats through the open window. Not because it’s loud, not because it’s annoying. Because it shatters your heart a little.
I see you praying in bed at night, journaling in the morning, sending short whispers of, Please, God, up in the air all day long.
I see you.
When date night takes a somber turn, thanks to phone reminders and tracking body temperatures and days of the cycle. Romance isn’t the name of the game anymore. The plight to manage and control your body is what calls the shots now.
When you take pill after pill the doctor prescribes, and no matter what you eat, your belly presses against your jeans when it didn’t a month ago, and you can’t let yourself step on the scale anymore for fear of the number that’ll stare back at you.
When you fly high on joy and laughter, then sink into sadness, then realize you’re engulfed in white-hot anger—all within five minutes.
When you just want to be on the other side, for this to be a distant memory, because all you’re asking for is ten little fingers and ten little toes.
I see you.
It’s not wrong to want a child. To feel like your family isn’t complete. To try everything you can to fill that baby-shaped hole in your heart.
Your mom did it, and her mom before her, and all the way back to the beginning of time.
What’s wrong with me? you think, again. Why does this get to be easy for everyone else? Why am I stuck in a vortex of needles and pills and clinics when, for everyone else, this is easy?
I see your anger. I see your frustration. I know why you feel this way.
I’ve felt it, too. More times than I can count.
I know how you can be living your life, merry as the day is long, when all of a sudden grief punches you in the gut and you’re doubled over, filled with longing for the rest of the day.
A sonogram photo on Instagram.
A Pampers commercial.
A pacifier on the sidewalk.
And then there are the comments.
“When did you guys get married? Isn’t it about time you had kids?”
“I was up all night with Ava. Man, you’re so lucky you get to sleep through the night!”
But that’s the thing, isn’t it? They don’t know.
They have no idea how much your heart aches for a little one to hold and kiss and comfort. They don’t know how fun and ease has trickled out of your marriage and been replaced with calendars and routine and silent tension. They don’t know how many one-lined pregnancy tests have hit your garbage can.
They don’t know how many babies’ heartbeats you’ve heard grow silent.
Though infertility can feel like the loneliest road, there is so much hope to be found in the desert of the journey.
Infertility is one of the hardest struggles we women will ever face. Because this whole process of wanting a child then making a child is what our bodies were designed to do. And if we can’t do it, or modern medicine can’t fix us, we’re broken—that’s what we tell ourselves, anyway.
In my experience, God has met me in the midst of my brokenness more than any other time in my life. It’s when I’ve been on my knees, filled with despair, that He has spoken clearest to me. And, if we’re being honest, those moments helped shape me into the type of mother I am today.
Still, at the end of the day, all of this is outside our control. Whether or not we have a baby of our own is not something we can make happen. That is enough to send anyone through the roof.
It’s not like you can hide from being reminded of babies—they’re everywhere you turn. For a time, probably a longer time than you’d like, it will seem like everyone you know is getting pregnant except for you.
And that can make you feel so very, very alone.
When those moments happen, I give you permission to do what you need to do.
Seriously, friend. Just do what you need to do.
Skip the Mother’s Day service at church. Politely decline the invitation to the baby shower and grab brunch with a friend. Let yourself cry when you need to cry. Smile and coo when your colleague plays proud dad and shows you photos of his five-month-old Gerber Baby daughter with red hair and blue eyes, but if you have to take a minute in the bathroom afterward, do it. And remember, nurturing your heart during a time like this is crucial. Take time to take care of yourself, unapologetically.
When my husband and I married in 2008, wide-eyed and bursting to go from “Emily and Bryan” to “Mommy and Daddy,” we had no idea the road of pills and needles and surgeries and tear-stained pillows that lay ahead of us. We were lucky to get through that harrowing seven-year season with the results we wanted: three healthy children.
Though the ends of our journeys may look so different, I know this: God intends to do something with that baby-shaped hold in your heart. I firmly believe He gives us baby-shaped holes with the intention of using and filling that hole some way, somehow. Through so many miracles—birth, adoption, surrogacy, fostering—God nurtures, fills, and uses that special place in our hearts. And though the pain may recede, we’ll always be extra tender in that spot.
So remember this: you are not alone. I see you. And there are women everywhere who have gone through, are going through, and will go through this.
And I’m not the only one who sees you. The God who saw Hannah, who longed for a child as much as you and I have, sees you now. The same God who rescued Hagar, a scared young woman on the run in the desert, is the same God who watches over you. The same God who remembered an orphan named Esther, who rose her up to save a whole nation of persecuted people, is the same God who remembers you now.
For a long time, God has been in the business of using women in all kinds of situations for all kinds of different things.
I don’t know how He’s going to use you. I don’t know how He’s going to answer your prayers. I wish I did.
But I do know that you’re not alone. He is there. I am here. We know your pain. We know your longing.
How you feel? It’s okay.
And the desire you feel to love someone else, to give your precious time and money and attention to shepherd someone else through the world?
That is holy ground.
And God does amazing things on His holy ground.
Wow! I did not know Emily had gone through this familiar struggle of infertility. Thanks! Thank you for validating how I feel. Thank you for your story of encouragement.