I don't think there is any better way to honor ourselves, our story and our babies than to speak our truth and tell the world. And so, I am honored to share Jana's story with you today as part of the #MoreThan1in8 project.. I met Jana through my publisher for Ever Upward, Morgan James Publishing. It did not take long into our conversation for us to learn that we are fellow warriors in this battle of infertility. Our stories very different and yet so much the same, especially in the lifelong consequences of infertility and loss. Through my advocacy work the last few years a special place has grown in my heart for those struggling with secondary infertility. Jana's brave voice and story are very important in our community. Make sure you check out her blog, Jana Says.
The Magic Answer
When I was a kid, I knew three things for sure: I was going to be either a writer or a lawyer, I was going to live in Washington DC, and I was going to have 2 kids.
None of those happened.
And while I can reconcile the first two, the last, well, I struggle with that.
It’s a hard thing to accept when you make a concrete plan for your life and it doesn’t turn out that way. Especially not something as emotional as having kids. Because no one who wants kids grows up, or enters childbearing years, thinking they won’t be able to have them.
It’s a huge kick in the face when it turns out that way, though.
At least it was for me.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I do have one child. She’s 9. Every day, I feel blessed and honored that I get to be her mom (even on the days I wish she still took 3 hour naps). And when I was pregnant with her, I never thought she’d be an only child. I figured that since it was so easy to get pregnant the first time, it’d be just as easy to do it again when we felt ready.
Except it wasn’t.
It took 7 years to get pregnant again. And then I miscarried roughly 2 weeks after I found out (in fact, today, April 15 was the one year anniversary of my miscarriage). And then there were the unsuccessful IUI treatments that followed that summer. And we won’t even talk about adoption because for my family, it’s not an option and also, it’s not necessarily the solution.
I spent a good part of last year wondering why I was being punished and not allowed to have another baby. And all the questions started. What did I do wrong? Am I not a good enough mother to the one I have? Did I do something awful I don’t know about and this is karma coming to get me? Is my body a failure? Am I a failure?
Dammit if I didn’t want answers. I don’t know how many hours of sleep I lost or how many productive days flew out the window searching for answers that, deep down, I knew would never come.
Until one day, they did. And I might not like the answer but it’s all I’ve got and it’s what I’ve learned to live with.
What is the magical answer?
“That’s just how it is.”
That’s just how it is. Vague yet specific. Helpful yet not helpful at all. It does nothing but does everything. It lets me hurt yet lets me heal. Because I’ll never truly know why I miscarried or why the IUI treatments didn’t work or why my body won’t let me be pregnant again. My husband can’t tell me why. Doctors can’t tell me why. God can’t tell me why.
There is no why.
There’s only acceptance.
“That’s just how it is.”
And while I don’t like having to accept my infertility, I know it’s something I have to do. Because without accepting it, I’ll never be able to move on.
Moving on doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten. It doesn’t mean I don’t mourn what I’ve lost. But it gives me permission to own my feelings, whatever they may be. It gives me permission to always feel that my family is incomplete. It gives me permission to stop blaming myself every day. It gives me permission to forgive myself losing the pregnancy and not being able to have another one.
It gives me permission to be content with what I’ve been given.
While I’ll always feel the void left by my miscarriage and unsuccessful IUI treatments, I’m grateful for what those babies did for me. They’ve made me a stronger person, they’ve made me a better mother to the child I have with me, and they’ve given me new perspective on life. I appreciate the small and mundane more than I did before. I appreciate what I do have in a way I didn’t think possible.
That’s their legacy.
By sharing my story, that’s their legacy, too.
And for those who don’t understand, well.
That’s just how it is.