That moment… you look into each others’ eyes, you say I do, and for those few seconds, time stops… Absolute bliss, perfect romance, pure delight and unwavering love.
The next few years seem to rush by in a flash. You make a home, putting your own unique touch on everything from furniture to cutlery. You embark on new adventures and explore all sorts of new experiences. Finally, when you both decide you’re as ready as you’ll ever be, the time comes to start a FAMILY.
Well, it didn’t quite work out like that for me.
When my husband and I decided to start trying for a baby the excitement took over… It seemed to us that this was the next logical (and romantic) step in our marriage. The tingling joy of knowing that we were going to be making a BABY filled us both with a tremendous sense of expectation… We were going to make a baby!!! Or were we?
Month after agonizing month, that little stick refused to show two lines. And slowly, but surely, I grew frustrated and confused. Why wasn’t this happening? Isn’t it meant to be easy? After about a year of trying, we decided to go see a specialist. “Oh Don’t worry”, she said, “You’re still young,” she said. “It’ll happen”, she said. So we waited… 2 (very long) years.
Impatience, anger, a sense of failure and frustration begins to wash over you. You live it, you wake to it, you eat it, you sleep it. Every moment of every day you become more painfully aware of the fact that you’re just not falling pregnant.
After those first two years, we went to another specialist. One who decided that telling us not to worry simply wouldn’t cut it, so this time we were sent for a barrage of tests. Finally, we received some answers; we would probably never have chidren, but, if we wanted to, fertility treatment was the way forward. Embarrassing, exhausting and very painful fertility treatment… Many years of it.
It reached a stage where I could not stand being around a pregnant person. If I found out a friend was going to be a parent, I would lock myself in a room and cry. I made excuses not to attend baby showers or first birthday parties. My heart was broken, I was broken… My husband grew quiet, believing it to be his fault, ashamed that he could not make our dreams come true. The realization that you may never hold your baby in your arms is earth-shattering.
The stress it puts on a marriage is like a snake. It slithers in slowly, quietly and undetected, until one day it strikes and becomes a seed of conflict. You wake up one morning and think, what are we doing? We blamed each other without verbalizing it and grew further and further apart. Sadly, sometimes, you just simply don’t have the physical energy to sit down and deal with it. You are too far gone, down the road of emotional blame and resentment. And many couples just walk away from each other. But we refused to be another statistic!
If I had a $1 for every person that offered me their wisdom… Well, I’d have a truck-load of dollars! I know that many of them meant well, but the last thing you tell a hurt and broken woman is to “relax, it will happen” (even if that is true). I had received so much advice that I eventually just shut down and stopped listening altogether.
Until one day, when someone said to me: “Jacqui, maybe you just weren’t meant to be a mom.” That was a crucial moment in my life. I walked away more CRUSHED than I ever thought possible… Would God really not want me to be a mom? Does he really want me to endure this sense of longing and pain? (Even as I sit here writing, almost 11 years after that defining moment, I still get incredibly emotional. I don’t think I’ve ever shared this story so plainly. While I feel desperately vulnerable I know that this is a story worth telling.
I remember feeling so alone. Like a failure… I just wanted to breathe freely again.
So, one morning I just decided to let it go (or, at least, to try to let it go). I had put on almost 25 kg (55 lbs) with all the treatments I received. My sugar levels were dangerously high. I finally decided to focus on me. I realized that in the state, I was in, I couldn’t be the wife my husband needed me to be. And, if by some miracle I were to fall pregnant, I certainly wouldn’t be able to be the mother my children deserved. I had to fix ME. It took me a long time to get there. It was a painful and exhausting road, but I chose to travel it to the end. I was stronger than this.
Here I sit today with 5 beautiful children, and an incredible husband. I could not have asked for more…
P.S. I’m not here to give advice, but if you know someone who is going through the same thing… do not give YOUR advice… Hold, Listen, Cry and Be quiet with them. That’s all they need from their friends.
Jacqui Bester is firstly a wife and mom to five rambunctious children who drive her nuts and fill her heart with unspeakable joy all in the space of a single day. She writes about her day to day adventures and misadventures in parenting, life and marriage. Jacqui is known for sharing a brutally honest account of her MESSY “mamahood”… the joy, the fun, the laughter and the tears. She enjoys a good mystery-crime novel with a lovely glass of red wine, trying out new foods and restaurants with her hubby on the odd date-night, exploring new places, learning new skills, and generally anything else that calls for a more adventurous approach to life. You can find her over on One Messy Mama.