"You Were Not Meant to Have Babies"

Almost 5 months ago, the day I gave birth to Foster, a nurse entered my room afterward during shift change. As she took my temperature, she voiced awe over the fact that I hadn't yet requested any pain meds. (Oh, it's not that it didn't hurt A LOT, it's just that I was determined to get into the NICU to spend every possible moment I could with my boy, and honestly wasn't even cognizant of myself anymore.) She also commented on what she described as my quick and easy (ha!) natural delivery. "I think you were just made to have babies!" she exclaimed.

I will never, ever forget that nurse.

If you rewind eight years, you'll find me. Thirty, about to have another birthday, and constantly saying "Oh, it's okay, I don't even know if we're ready for kids yet, anyway!" And really? I almost believed it. Even though my husband and I had been trying (sort of) already, I still felt a little bit like a kid myself. We had married young, just out of college, and honestly we were still having fun together. We could leave on a moment's notice. We didn't have to schedule sex around children's schedules. We had dinner at nine, brunch at 11, went to live shows with friends (mostly younger than us, because hey, a lot of people our age had kids to consider) any time we felt like it.

But the nagging feeling that time was running out had already started creeping in slowly. Not just that, but I knew I did want more. WE wanted more. We wanted to grow this little family of two into something bigger if we could.

So we tried. In earnest, but quietly. We didn't talk about it much at first. We acted like we didn't mind years swimming by without the tiny reward we had begun aching for. Announcements of pregnancies from family members and friends came in gentle lapping waves, then a painful rushing tide. We were aging, and so was our hope.

Sometime around those earlier efforts, something significant happened. I don't remember exactly when, but I remember where and how much it stung. We were leaving my parents' house, and something came up about another family member being pregnant. I think I was pretty cavalier about it, acting like it was no big deal to me (it was). And just before we pulled out of the driveway, my mom said to me, "It's okay, not everyone was meant to have kids."

Oof.

To be fair, I think she thought she was validating some choice WE were making to not have kids...or trying to make me feel of value "even without children" or something, perhaps not realizing just how much we had already poured into this emotional rollercoaster. But that's not what the words did inside of me. Inside of me they were saying YOU WERE NOT MEANT TO HAVE BABIES.

This was something I carried with me for most of the entirety of our fertility journey. I have to take responsibility for the fact that those words had the power they did over me BECAUSE of the fears already inside of me. For the longest time, I could not shake the feeling that something was fundamentally wrong with me, physically and deep in my soul, that would not allow me to have a child. Not just that we couldn't "get pregnant", but that I didn't even deserve to.

Those words just managed to take those feelings and give them a massive, ornate coach to follow me around in no matter where I was or how hard I tried to forget. Always there. YOU WERE NOT MEANT TO HAVE BABIES, it would clatter behind me.

We tried everything. We tried nothing. We tried IUIs. We tried surgery (me). We tried testing (him). We tried counseling (us). We tried charting (oh, I still have the stack of temperature charts almost 3 years high). We tried acupuncture. We tried Chinese herbal concoctions. We tried meditation.

Please know that we were not opposed in any way to adoption. In fact, we had some paperwork and were getting ready to schedule meetings with agencies.

But finally, again we tried nothing. We let go. We did, in fact, continue to meditate and decided to release ourselves from the bond of constant worry. I was going to work out and get in great shape (oh, boy) and he was going to stop feeling like there must be something wrong with at least one of us. And then...almost one year ago to the day...

...it happened.

We found out we were pregnant.

It's not like magically we were more worthy as people or as a couple, let me be clear. I think it is perfectly valid for some people to choose not to have children at all. But here WE were, we who were really wondering if we'd had the option to choose taken away. We who finally had that tiny reward we had ached for. Throughout the pregnancy, I admittedly still fought the fear that I was somehow not worthy of this life, that I was maybe not meant to have babies and maybe this would not end the way I hoped. It was an internal boxing match I stepped into daily with my shadow self, the one that wanted me to believe even though this otherworldly magic had graced itself upon me...that YOU WERE NOT MEANT TO HAVE BABIES.

That day, in the hospital, I blinked hard when the nurse said those words to me. She didn't even notice, but in my post-delivery haze of adrenaline and exhaustion I could not help but fight back tears. She didn't even know. She had no idea what she had just erased, how much she had validated in one sentence: "I think you were just meant to have babies!"

And I had no idea yet just how much Foster would teach me that not only was I meant to have babies? I WAS MEANT TO HAVE HIM. Like the parched ground soaks up the rain, I was going to drink in this child and be healed.

I was meant to be his mother.

 

Melissa Glenn, The Village Journalist