Sunday, May 18, 2014

Never the Tenderness

Wanting babies. NEEDING Babies; I remember to this day the raw emotion that accompanied planning my own. What can I say, it is a natural desire, a maternal instinct, a deep pit-of-the-stomach feeling that needs to be satisfied no matter the obstacles. Having my OWN family was just a natural expectation. A baby was a welcome gift from God given to touch a part of a person's soul that can be matched in no other way.

I am told there is a deep connections of emotions between a mom and her baby. I'm guessing it is an experience too amazing for words, since I have tried about 20 times now to describe what it must be like and I still can't write it down. I can only assume It is an intimate attachment where a baby is close to their mother's heart, sharing her body, growing, and connecting in a way that can never be duplicated in any other relationship.

I l-o-n-g-e-d for that connection and that tenderness, the bond between a mother and their child; The kind of bond that can be see from across a room.Those initial gazes and feather-light touches between a mother and her infant child I will never know because instead I struggled with infertility.

Infertility can make a young bride bitter. 

To this day the most difficulty things for me to do is hold a baby; To smell their sweetness and feel their petal soft skin and look deep into their eyes. I admire babies from afar, and I remember deep in my mind, most time unaware that "I never had those moments." 

Most people I know have no idea I struggled with this. What is saddest of all is that it is a feeling and a desire shared by thousands of women.  Women who fought with infertility, and shots, and surgery and pills and multiple miscarriages, and buckets of tears and promise upon promise ... and never had their own children. 

And my soul still yearns for that tenderness shared between a mother and her baby. Even 25 years later. 

It wasn't like my husband and I didn't try. It was an all consuming time in my life that revolved around fertility pills and perfect timing and sperm counts and Basil Body Temperature and surgeries to remove scar tissue caused by endometriosis which caused more scares for future surgeries. The biology of the reproductive system was a daily conversation for us which included the "perfect time to conceive." Red check marks on calendar dates and thermometers and early wake up calls, those were the tools of the trade.

Infertility was a nightmare, and I have to say that even though my love for children and my nieces and nephews and friends children is very real and very deep, it is not the same love as you have for your own biological child.

I have tried to duplicate it; To create it with a baby that might be in my life at the moment, but it isn't possible. Its not the same, it almost feels like I am stealing from a friend.  And it makes my soul sad and my eyes water and my stomach knot; And then I have to walk away. 

I had multiple surgeries to remove scar tissue from endometriosis, which caused more scar tissue. I had the monthly disappointment of negative pregnancy tests and the frustrating looks on my husbands face ever single month. 

Worst of all was when all of my friends and family were having and celebrating their new babies, and I was encountering that tenderness for the first time, watching them share the thing I wanted most, those tender moments. 

So what does the one in the room with no child say or do? 

I said nothing; My body shutters, I quickly wipe away hot tears from my eyes and I left ... that is what I did.

That was  a very lonely place to be.

I did my best to avoid baby showers and chances to babysit and birthday parties. I avoided groups of friends with newborns and toddlers because no matter how hard I tried to avoid the subject, the subject came up and there was always that one person who would ask, "How are YOU two doing? Are you having any luck? I am sure you two will have a baby soon."

I wanted to hit them. I wanted to look them in the eye and tell them how dare you act like it a tooth ache or an ingrown toenail? How dare you sit there with that smile on you face and ask me "how are you doing?" When I clearly knew they knew what was going on.

But then again, they probably really didn't know what was going on. They probably really wanted to comfort me and try to help me in some way, anyway they could, but bitterness was easier for me to muster than accepting their kindness, so I rejected it.

And we were never successful at conceiving. 

Attempts at pregnancy were futile and we never did have a baby. We tried foster care, and that just seemed like a terrible attempt to place a little boy with people he didn't want to be with; He just wanted to be with his own family.  

Eventually alcoholism and anger and disgust took the place of love and friendship and commitment that we had vowed to each other and our marriage, and we split up. The stress was just too much, and we couldn't fix each other. There was just no medicine to fix what had happened to us. Our dream of a life together died right along with that desire to share that tenderness with "our" child. One we never had.

Thankfully I can say that I have healed from the anger and bitterness and sadness of it all. It was a long time ago and all of my friends children are having kinds of their own now. I have found happiness for new families and new babies but I will always mourn that tenderness. The looks and the relationship shared between a child and their mother.

As much as I hated it, I always had to remember on thing, and that is,  "this too shall pass," (Thanks to my Aunt Grace) and that you (and I) are special and important, even if infertility is or has caused pain in your life. I believe that is the only way I made 25 more years. 

And sadly, there is no pretty ending here, no magically poetic conclusion. It's painful and emotional and real, and finding other things to fill the void is hard but necessary. I pray for those dealing with this right now, and if I can ask one thing, do not let it devour you. Take one day at a time, make other plans in the meantime, keep your relationship the important factor in your life and focus on the future - with or without that special tenderness, life is meant to be lived. 

One final thought ... I never blamed God, not even once. Because I know now just like I knew then that he LOVES me and would never do such a thing to me. It just happened and through it all I have learned to love other more deeply, with my whole heart, and I don't think I would have been able to do that had I not been down this road. 

There is always a reason - God always has a plan and anything from God is a good thing. He is full of tenderness ... and I have found he can fill that void.  

Romans 8:28
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.