We weren’t waiting to have children because of an insatiable desire to pursue our careers or because we don’t like kids–as we’ve been accused of. I’ve heard the conversations behind our backs (and sometimes to our faces) surmising that we must be selfish and too rigid. I’ve heard the philosophy that we should have children in order to become “better people”.
I’ve also been given the insightful information that childbearing is not only what makes me a “real woman”, but more importantly, that it’s my Godly duty. And, my favorite is the “concerned” person who warned me that having children after 35 greatly increases the chances of the child being mentally or physically handicapped. As if this would be a horrible consequence to us waiting.
The simple fact is–we wanted to wait until we couldn’t wait any more. This was how we approached our marriage. And since this would be another life long decision–not just something cute to hold for a moment–we waited. We thought we might be ready by our fourth or fifth year into marriage. But soon, our sixth, seventh and then tenth anniversary passed us by and we were still childless. And we were fine with it.
However, about the eleventh year, I observed that we started noticing kids. It began in small ways. One of us would comment on how tiny baby shoes were-something that never mattered before. Or, my husband would point out the cute fuzzy hair on our nephew. The emotions began to creep in and the desire was planted.
We wanted and we were ready to have our family.
But, along with our desire came our hesitation. We loved our spontaneous weekend get-aways without worrying about a sitter. We loved biking through the city with no real plan or a diaper bag. As a compromise to a specific plan, we went without charting or taking temperatures, and decided to try–without trying. Every month that rolled around was a game of roulette. And we lost every time.
I took solace as I watched frazzled mothers yelling at their children at church, in the mall, and at the gas station. I skipped on by, coffee in hand, with no spit-up on my shirt and no poop smell in my car. The war stories from parents were abundant and gladly told over and over. They wore them on their sleeves like badges of honor. The same parents–chastising me for being childless–were the ones with marriages in a state of arrested development, the ones where the children were controlling everything and with absolute, total chaos in their lives.
Even so, I wanted a baby with my husband. I wanted to see a boy that looked like him, that acted like him, that admired his father. I wanted a little girl that would paint her nails, that would bake cookies with me, that would become my best friend–like I am with my mother.
And when this realization hit that I sincerely wanted a baby, the scarring in my life began. The awkward questions that I used to let roll off my back, no longer rolled. They stuck. And they hurt.
“Well, what’s wrong? Don’t you want to have kids?”. Without knowing what is wrong–if there is anything really wrong–my answer is simply, “God hasn’t blessed us with a baby–yet.”
I watch as they shift their child from one hip to the other, looking me over, trying to figure out if it’s my lack of faith, lack of body fat or something somewhere in between that’s causing me to not become pregnant, and I beg my tears to recede to their proper holding cell. Because, after all–I’m broken and I need to be fixed. By them.
“Maybe you shouldn’t have waited so long,” they say. This stings more than all the others, because it’s the one that percolates in the back of my mind. “You can always adopt,” is their next statement.
I thank them for their helpful comments and walk away, knowing I’m going home to a house that’s empty and void of onesies, toys and stuffed animals. My house is clean and everything is just where I left it. And, if I want to have a cup of coffee on the back porch while it’s raining, I can. But the rain only amplifies what I already know.
I feel broken and the questions continue to pound away at my resolve to be positive and to be at peace. Those questions mutilate me. My tears are at the ready, my emotions are at the breaking point. And this is where I am today.
I am writing this to all women that have felt this pain. And for the ones that seem to get pregnant “if their husband’s just look at them”, please, understand why I can only offer you my half smile. I am so thrilled for you, truthfully. But, it’s so hard to muster up joy for your new season when the joy seems to be gone in my season–and when I’m left in this holding pattern.
I know that God has a plan for me–I am not distraught–I have hope. I am just wounded and hurting. The questions, the helpful suggestions and opinions you have of me bruise me more than you know.
A Childless Wife