an open letter
To the expectant mothers in my life (with love):
I know this is a very special time for you – a time filled with excitement, anticipation and unbounding love for your baby soon to enter the world. This time is for you — a chance to celebrate, to contemplate, to prepare. This is your moment to delight in the joy of expectancy, to embrace the promise of parenthood, to exude radiance. To rejoice in feeling life grow inside with every fluttering heartbeat, every kick.
Soon you will enter the sacred sisterhood of women who become mothers, forever transforming their lives. Soon your arms will hold new life, as you bask in the warm glow of your child’s beaming eyes. Soon your heart will fill when you hear his/her laughter, the tight grasp around your finger. You will marvel at the wondrous little being you created out of love, in an act more natural than any in the world.
And yet. As you enter perhaps the most magnificent time in your life, we are finding our way through crisis, trying to navigate a life-altering journey with persistence and grace. We don’t know where it will lead us, how it will end. Our future is uncertain. I don’t expect many people to understand what we are going through. But I would hope that you would try to appreciate that it is real. It is crushing. It underlies and permeates every aspect of our lives, everything we do. As impossible as it is to imagine, as hard as it is to see, and as challenging as it is to live, it is our life and our story. Every day. And it is staggering. Such a primal urge, a natural instinct; such deep desire — unmet, unfilled, unlived. Beyond reach.
The truth is, unless you’ve experienced the sorrow of repeated failures or a devastating loss in your quest for a child, I don’t think you can know what I feel. Unless your dreams for a family have been shattered time after time, no matter how hard you pray or will them to come true, you can’t know the tremendous hole that lies deep my heart. Unless you’ve been defeated by the consistent betrayal of your own body, unless you’ve felt broken to the core, you can’t know the ache of my empty womb as time moves on…
But as my friend and loved one, I would hope that you can open your heart and mind to try to appreciate where I’m coming from, where I am. I hope that you can understand I may need time and space to heal, to deal. That you will not take it personally or take offense when I can not join your celebration. That with love and compassion you might try to understand that this is not about you. (I know, I said before it’s all about you, but this part is about me.) I sincerely hope you can accept that my actions and emotions reflect my own affliction, and not my feelings about you or your child.
I will wholly embrace your baby into this world with blessings and an open heart. But just as my joy for you is not diminished by my own suffering, my pain is not diminished by sharing your joy. My heart still aches, my arms long to be filled, and my womb lies empty, still…
Perhaps we’re both incapable of seeing beyond our own experience at this moment in time. Understandable. But tell me, if I can find joy in my heart for you in my time of crisis, why is it so hard for you have compassion in your heart for me in your time of joy?