“You are brave,” my friend said.
I didn’t believe her.
But she told me again, “You are brave.”
It’s been a whole week now. And as I sit in the waiting room at my OB’s office (otherwise known as the 9th circle of hell), watching swollen pregnant bellies pass in front of me as I wait to have my blood drawn to confirm I am no longer pregnant … I decided she was right.
I am brave.
You are too.
You went to a mom’s group even though signs of other people’s fertility is everywhere. The one thing that ties you together is also the one thing that hurts the most … You, going? That was brave.
You put your big girl panties on — and for that matter, your big girl suit and high heels on — and went to work. Even though it doesn’t feel like life should go on, it is and you are playing your part. It might take a million times more energy to make it through the day. You come home exhausted and soul-tired from keeping it together for strangers. But you did it. You are pretty much my hero.
You sat in the church’s mommy/baby nursing room with your toddler when the toddler classroom was full. Somehow, you managed to keep it together and not cry every time a new mom arrived with her darling little bundle. You even politely asked how old they were. That makes you a warrior my sister-friend. Churches can be the hardest places to go when you are aching for a baby.
You got up and fixed your kids’ breakfasts, and lunches, and got everyone out the door, in spite of the fact that you felt like pulling the covers over your head and pretending that this loss of yours wasn’t real. You are amazing.
You knew the odds were against you, but you hoped anyway. That’s what a mom does for her kids. She hopes, and she believes in them, and she entrusts them to God. You are such a good mom. Even if your baby didn’t make it. YOU are a good mom.
You went to that fertility clinic, and heard everything that you didn’t want to hear. You have accepted the fact that not only are there no easy answers, there are simply no answers at all. You kept it together in front of the doctor, and acted like you weren’t talking about your flesh and blood, hopes and dreams. You went, you survived, and then you made the hardest decisions you have ever made. Your strength is unmatched.
You decided to stop trying. You knew your limit, you knew that it was one loss too many. One heartbreak, one treatment, one pregnancy test, one failed cycle, one transfer, one fertility med too many. You know that straw that broke the camel’s back. It broke your back too. And now you are making the impossible decision to stop trying, count your losses and move forward. You faced the impossible, and you survived.
You heard the odds, your know the stats, and you have felt the pain of loss and failure. And yet, you are ready to try one more time. In hopes that this time, it just might work out. You are holding fast to your dream. Your perseverance is awe-inspiring.
Your friend asked you to coffee, and you opened up. It would have been easier to stay quiet. To pretend that everything is fine, and that this infertility and pregnancy loss journey is not sucking out your life-blood. But it is, and so you take a deep breath … And you’re real. You share, you cry, and you let the walls of pretense fall down, for just a minute. It takes courage, dear girl, to let someone in. You are so full of courage.
They say grief is love with nowhere to go. You are loving with all your heart. But your baby, your hopes, your dreams, they are gone. But you will love. No one can else can know how much you have sacrificed in order to love well. You have given your baby your all. May we all seek to love our children as you have loved yours.
You closed the door, to your home, to your heart, to your headspace. “The unhelpful are not welcome here,” you say. Only those who love as you do, who care, support, share and grieve with you are allowed in. Sometimes the hardest thing is to say no. But you did it anyway. And I am so proud of your for protecting yourself from those who seek to hurt you.
You knew when it was time. Time to stay home instead of go out, time to decline the baby shower invite, time for congratulate someone on their pregnancy with a card instead of in person, time to stay home and eat ice cream and watch sappy love movies. You might not always know what you need in the moments where your body is shouting “ENOUGH!”, but in the times you do, kudos for being honest with your needs and making yourself a priority. Grief is a monster, but it doesn’t mean you owe others out of grief. Way to stick to your guns, and do what’s right for you. Even if it doesn’t always win you the popularity award.
Living life as an infertile or bereaved woman is not easy. It takes bravery, and courage. It takes strength to know your limits. It takes silent tears, and prayers of “Why me, God,” and it takes an insane amount of faith that somehow, this journey will be worth it in the end.
You might not feel it right now. But I want you to know that you are brave.
And you are also not alone.