I was 33 years old when I lost my mother to breast cancer. She was only 60 years old and fought the disease for ten years. My relationship with my mother was incredible. She was my best friend and confidante. It was a huge loss to me when she died and I still haven’t recovered 17 years later. I often thought that my life would have been “perfect” if I had my mother by my side. I moved on even though losing that relationship made my life difficult and I knew it was going to be hard, if not impossible, to replace it. That became my “one thing”; I wanted that kind of close relationship in my life again. I knew only a daughter could fill the void. I wanted a daughter someday.
Years after graduating from college, before I had kids, I remember a former sorority sister who, like me, had lost her mother at a fairly young age. She lamented about how difficult it was for her to go on living without a daughter of her own. This came as a shock to me since she had a beautiful son and an incredibly nice husband. Her life had appeared perfect to me, aside from being motherless (a lifelong curse). She struggled with infertility a few years after the birth of her first child and was inconsolable. I had many other friends who had no children at all and faced the same disappointments that she did. However, in some way she seemed more desperate for another child than they were for their first. I felt sorry for her inability to recognize all the good things she had in her life and felt even sorrier for her husband and son, who she tortured on a daily basis with her moodiness and impatience.
I didn’t understand it until I fell into the same situation years later. When you have had successful pregnancies, the shock of losing your fertility is upsetting and perplexing. Most of us ‘plan’ our families so we can organize schools, bedrooms, vacations and more. Optimistically, we set our expectations of how long the pregnancy will take so we can fit it in before the big holiday or family reunion. I have always been a planner and I expected certain things to happen in order in my life. When reality doesn’t follow the plan, it’s frustrating at first and as time goes on, it’s downright upsetting. My first son was born 10 months after my wedding and my second son was born 27 months later. They were, and still are, the delight in my life. In their early years they had no clue that I was suffering over the death of my mother and the need for a daughter. But I was indeed grieving from the loss of that relationship. I was focused on the third child I wanted so deeply for years.
When I was ChildDrenched – desperate for another child, the age difference between my older children and a new baby grew with every failed attempt at pregnancy, which for me added pressure to the situation. I wanted my children close enough in age to have a relationship. Fertility issues can go on for years. The clock keeps ticking while waiting for test results, cycles to complete, scars to heal, and doctors’ schedules to open up. The desperation grows as the birthdays come and go—both yours and your children’s.
Being a ChildDrenched mother makes it harder to get through the day with a smile on your face ignoring the anguish of disappointment that may be excruciating that day. I’m not saying having a child already makes it more difficult to face infertility. Infertility might affect mothers just as much as mothers-to-be, but just living life gets more demanding with a little one (or two) tugging at you constantly. If I only had a crystal ball to see that the future held a perfect baby girl for me, I would have appreciated those awesome toddlers and spent more focused time enjoying them. Unfortunately, crystal balls only exist in fairy tales so take the time and enjoy your family, especially through the ChildDrenched years.