Listen Up: Infertility Never Ends

National Infertility Awareness Week is April 23-29. This guest post was submitted as part NIAW's theme: "Listen Up." For more stories and features on infertility and NIAW, click HERE.

I am on the other side of an infertility battle....kind of.

See, my husband and I struggled to conceive. Our battle was made difficult by my diagnosis of poly-cycstic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

But, we got lucky. Clomid was our friend and we were able to conceive during the first cycle.

We lived on pins and needles for about 9 months and finally welcomed our daughter, Ellen, into the world.

She is now 3, almost 4. She is the joy of our lives. We call her the blonde bombshell, my father calls her the tornado.

She is curious about life.

She loves Paw Patrol, reading books, helping in the kitchen, and tormenting our 2 dogs.

And despite wanting to be a mom for a really long time, there are moments I still suck at mothering.

I am the worst kind of parent two times a day: as we're trying to get out of the house to head to preschool, and bedtime.

I turn into this Sybil-like monster and fear I am doing my daughter irreversible damage by finally giving up sweetly asking and instead demanding that she put shoes on.

Not long ago, we were having one of "those" kinds of mornings.

We had woken up late (stupid sleep button that looks like the off button) and Ellen was on her own time line.

She wanted to get dressed as slow as possible. Eat breakfast as slow as possible. Descend down our stairs like molasses. We moved a glacial speed.

I was already in a fine mood as we headed out the door to the garage when she said (innocently) "'K' is getting a little brother or sister! His mommy has a baby in her tummy." 'K' is one of her preschool friends. Then, as only a 3 year old can, she looked up at me with her big brown eyes and said, "Mommy? When will you have a baby in your tummy?" 

Not this. Not today. Not now, Sybil.

And what do I say in that moment?

How do I tell a 3 year old that she is a miracle without giving her a complex?

How do I explain that the clomid was a blessing but the side effects were horrible?

How do I tell her that her birth went nothing like I planned and I long to "fix" it but probably will never be able to do that.

We had a plan (like all pregnant people) but that plan didn't go....well....as planned.

Ellen arrived via unscheduled c-section.

For the longest time, I felt like less of a woman, less of a mother, because I didn't deliver her vaginally.

How do you explain that to a 3 year old?

Do I tell her about the nights I spent crying and begging her to latch on to my breast but she just wouldn't?

How do I tell her about the post-partum depression?

What kid wants to hear that her mother doesn't remember the first 3 months of her life thanks to PPD and sleep deprivation.

How do I tell her that my age now makes me an "at risk" pregnant person?

How do I explain preeclampsia??

Do I tell her that there are moments that I want another and then I look at her, our life, my job, her dad, all of it and wonder how in the hell we could handle another?

So what I said was, "Oh honey. Mommy probably won't have another baby in her tummy again. You're my only baby."

For that moment, it was an okay answer. But, I'm sure she'll ask again.

People always ask, don't they?

Curious, well meaning people, always ask.

And in my line of work as a Pastor, they ask a lot. Because what church doesn't love to have babies! And in some churches, the assumption is that the pastor (or the pastor's wife) will be the one to have ALL THE BABIES!! That's not the case where I serve. But, I have been asked, "Pastor, don't you think it's time to add another?" Or, "Pastor, you're such a good mom. You could handle one more." My favorite is, "Don't you think Ellen needs a brother or sister?" What they are really asking is, "Are you having sex?" I don't think they realize this.

The kicker is this: I've been very transparent about our infertility issues. But people still ask.

And even though we have Ellen, it still hurts to know the trials we would need to go through to have another.

Before having Ellen, there were times when I felt like less of a woman because I didn't (and for a while, thought I couldn't) have a baby.

Now, I have a baby...well, toddler. I had no idea that I would be made to feel like less of a mom because I only have one!

I wish I would have known that my battle with infertility wouldn't end with the birth of our daughter.

Because now I have become an infertility advocate.

I support those who are fighting.

I am a listening ear for my fellow warriors undergoing testing.

I pray aloud in church for those suffering from infertility. I refuse to make this a conversation that is had in hushed tones in dark corners.

I was part of the 10%, and I still am.

Jealaine M. is a wife. mother and pastor in Iowa. She is an infertility survivor and an advocate for those who have struggled to grow their family. Read more from her HERE

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