In May everyone swore you weren’t invisible. They meant it. They really did. It was Mother’s Day, and who could forget your plight? Through the busy blur of ordering tulip bouquets and reserving a table for brunch, people remembered the broken road you’ve been stumbling on toward motherhood, and they held out their hands to include you in the holiday. “Sending love to all the moms waiting for their babies,” they said. “Thinking of all the women with empty arms and heavy hearts,” they posted on the internet galore. It was all sincere. Quite thoughtful, for sure.
But fall is here now, and I feel I should warn you. This is going to hurt.
It starts slowly this time of year. September wasn’t so bad after all. Nah, even the most battered among us can handle back-to-school photos of nine year-olds and pencils on sale at Target. It’s not like you’ve been hoping to give birth to a third grader . . . though, at this point, you might be easily enticed. No, September was totally doable.
October is a whole other beast, I’m afraid. Maybe it’s the adorably plump pumpkin costumes, size twelve months, the My First Halloween bibs, or the long-sleeved maternity shirt with the tiny skeleton inside the mama skeleton’s ribs. All those bones glow in the dark, you know. You’ve always wanted that shirt. But you never need it. You’ll straighten your purse across your shoulder and walk past the whole rack of those shirts. You’ll think, am I a Jack-O-Lantern? Permanent smile, insides on fire. Not the glow you had in mind.
I don’t want to lie to you. It only gets worse.
Perhaps nothing seems particularly baby-centric about pilgrims and turkeys, or pecan pies, but let me tell you: It is a rough thirty days, that November. All the #thankful posts of babies in clever onesies (Gobble Gobble Til You Wobble, I Yam Loved). All the sweet couples announcing what they’re most grateful for this year: four hands on a blossoming belly, #blessed. You’ll smirk manically at your screen. You’ll wonder, what would they say if you posted a picture of yourself, a bitter size two, drinking all the fully caffeinated Pumpkin Spice Lattes you want and totally miserable. #miscarriage; #adoptioncosts25k; #wtfisadossier; #1pinkline. You'll hate yourself while you double tap, and you’ve still got all your pregnant cousins at grandma’s house to look forward to. It turns out there does not exist a charming photo to accompany #imhappyforyouireallyambutiamsosadformeandidontknowhowmuchmorepainwecantakesoletsnottalkaboutthiscansomeone
I don’t have to tell you, do I? Those jolly sleigh bells aren’t ringing in the most wonderful time of the year for you.
In your head you know Christmas is not a holiday intended only for children and those who are raising them. You know this. It is a celebration of the birth of Christ. It is the kingdom come. It is the kingdom breaking into a weary world. But you are weary too. So very weary. So much so, all you’ll hear is Mary gave BIRTH in a stable and Joseph ADOPTED her son. The BABY was wrapped in swaddling clothes. YOU are CHILDLESS for the third consecutive Christmas since you began trying to start your FAMILY. No little stocking on your mantle, no gifts for baby under the tree. You’ll remember A Christmas Carol and decide all your Christmas ghosts carry the same chains. Seven more days until a new year, and you know what? This whole year has sucked, thoroughly and utterly sucked. Bah humbug. You ain’t kidding, Ebenezer. You and your husband will stare at each other from across the room Christmas day, mayhem all around (so many kids underfoot, so many bellies to squeeze past), and your eyes will ask the same question: will we ever have children to wake us on Christmas morning?
This is where things get interesting.
Your tree will come down, the ornaments will get packed, the champagne flutes will all have been kissed. You’ll get back to work. Parking at yoga will be a nightmare but that’ll only last a couple of weeks. Resolutions are as short lived this year as they’ve always been. You guys will start making real plans to tackle that renovation you’ve been chewing on. January will turn into spring, and you won’t hear from your social worker, and you won’t need to pee on any sticks and honestly, you won’t even notice.
Soon it’ll be May. Mother’s Day again. Everyone will be so nice, extra cool. But it’s unnecessary. You will be really, hand to heaven, totally fine. During a lunch break you’ll order a two-piece swim suit. Vacation will be weeks away.
It’s not that you’ll no longer want a baby. You do. You certainly do. But you just can’t hurt like this any longer. It’s too much. The pain is too great. The obsession it prompts is too alarming. You want a baby, but you are not defined by that want. You see yourself as a mom but not because some kind person on the internet told you she does too. God told you. Not in so many words, but you know it was God who placed this desire in your heart. You’ll make a decision, back near Valentine’s Day, you’ll make a decision to have more faith in God than in Google (Asherman’s syndrome symptoms . . . Pregnancy after DNC . . . How to fund an international adoption). It will be so nice to start using the internet for movie times instead.
Summer will come, and summer will fade, and without noticing you’ll reach for your jeans more than your shorts. You will be very busy. Every Friday morning you’ll wait for your social worker to call. Every Friday morning the clock strikes 11am, and with no call, you’ll be off. Coffee, meetings, dinners out, Saturdays in. Life will hum along. You’ll start forgetting to watch the clock on Fridays. You’ll start forgetting you may be broken inside.
You stop. You start living.
One morning in October, while standing at a hotel coffee bar, you will uncharacteristically pour three sugars into your coffee. This gives you pause. You haven’t yet realized it’s a Friday.
One evening in September you will turn up your nose at the smell of marinara sauce bubbling on the stove. You followed the recipe to the letter, right? You never consider it could be you and not the sauce.
This is when your phone rings.
“April, it’s Jane from Children’s Services.”
“April, it’s Dr. Hart.”
“Yes, hi,” you’ll say. Careful, this is when your hand will start to shake. “Hi, how are you?” Honestly you will not care.
Ah! She said she’s great! Suddenly you’ll care! Your heart will race and you’ll be angry though not sure why. It is too soon to cry.
“I have some good news,” you’ll hear her say, “and I wanted to tell you myself. Is now a good time?”
“Yes, yes, just fine,” you’ll answer. And it is. It will be. Without warning it is the very best time.