Monday, December 22, 2014

The Silent Struggle

I have blogged before on becoming a mother {you can read about it here}. It was a super scary yet miraculous experience. Even though I was only 19, I knew I'd want to have more kids one day. When I held him, my crazy self said "I can't wait to do that again!" But my rational side said "Slow down. Get grounded financially and build a strong marriage--THEN revisit this in a few years." My husband and I talked about it, and we decided to wait at least 4 years, maybe more. We both felt very strongly that we didn't want our son or any future children to grow up with divorced parents. We were in this for keeps, and we were {rightfully} worried that too many kids too fast at our young age could put undue strain on our marriage. It was rational. It was right. And looking back, I would do it again.

My child is beautiful. He's energetic. He's hilarious. He's precocious. He's smart. He's got a heart for days. He's basically a miracle. Sometimes I watch him play, and tears well up in my eyes. I'm just overcome with gratitude that this wonderful creature is in my life and that I get the great privilege of being his mom.

People started asking us when we'd have another before the kid could crawl. Back then, my rational decision was an easy way to shut down that conversation with a satisfied smile from the one who asked the question. Nowadays, it ain't so easy. People aren't as accepting of my sideways smile and "maybe someday" answer. I get judgmental glares as they poke deeper and demand to know my motives behind stopping at "just one". Those are always the words people use: "just one". I really resented them for a long time, because I happen to believe that my "just one" fills my heart to the brim with love, and I didn't want to have to justify that. Because you know what? If I only have "just one", I am INCREDIBLY blessed because my "just one" is the BEST one imaginable.

I also didn't want to reach down in my purse for my Kleenex to explain why we have "just one". It started innocently enough. I mentioned to my doctor at a regular checkup {when my son was about 5} that we had been waiting for a while to have more kids, and I wanted to make sure there was nothing wrong with me. They ran some tests. All normal. I was relieved and thought to myself that I'm young, my body did this before, it's just not going to happen as quickly as I hoped. I didn't pursue radical treatment. I felt oddly calm about the situation.

Then a year passed. That's when the panic set in. They ran the same tests as before. I got bad news. And I got more bad news. And then the worst news: it is unlikely that we will have more kids without in vitro, which we chose not to pursue. I won't get into the long story of a dizzying array of doctor's appointments, procedures, and crushed hopes. I'll just say it was awful. And it was lonely. People are sympathetic when an infertile couple has no children, but this is not true when you have a child. I've been told I have no right to be sad. I've been told by a mother of many children that she wished she had my problem. I was told that my sadness over my situation could only mean that I must be ungrateful for the child that I have. I was told that I wasn't praying hard enough. I was told that I didn't trust God enough.

So, I chose to struggle silently from that point on.
And let VERY few people in. I googled every home remedy and followed all of them. I quit caffeine for months {which, if you know me at all, you know what a big deal this is}. All I learned there is that I'm a horrible person without caffeine.

I was upset about how people reacted to our situation for a while, but I've come to realize our society is just uneducated about what to do in situations dealing with infertility. It has greatly refined my ability to forgive.

If we ever have more, that would be awesome. If we don't, we have a better kid than I could ever ask for, and we have achieved growth and refinement during this process that we wouldn't have otherwise. It has made me stop asking single friends if they're seeing anybody. I will never again ask a dating couple when they're getting married. I will not ask someone when they'll have kids. I simply ask "what's new with you?" This situation has made me more aware of people's silent struggles. It's made me enter every interaction more compassionately. And for that, I am grateful.

My "just one".

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