There is nothing more amazing, beautiful, or life-affirming than giving birth to a child. If you’re like the average woman in our society, you spent your childhood playing house and imagining your frilly wedding day while making a list of what you’ll name your future children when you finally manage to land Prince Charming (or Hugh Jackman). As a teenager, you babysat all the children in your neighborhood and then some, surrounding yourself with little beauties, all the while practicing your own parenting skills. You were certainly going to have all the kinks worked out by the time you had children of your own.
And then you started dating – seriously dating. And one of the top questions for each prospective suitor was to ask if he wanted children. How many, how soon, what gender? Naturally, you used all the power you could muster and you held back for a few dates. I mean, you didn’t want to scare the poor fellow away and let him know that you were baby crazy and all, right? But wait, were you baby crazy? Maybe. But probably not. More than likely you were an intelligent, witty, successful woman that was simply searching for that missing part to make you whole. A family.
And once the “I Do’s” were said and the champagne bubbles finally settled, you looked to your new husband with a gleam in your eye and he knew – you both knew – it was time to make a baby. You couldn’t be more elated. And naturally, neither could he. Because while you’ve been dreaming for a little one with your eyes and his nose, he’s been dreaming of frequent and female-initiated sex for the next several months! Well, that and he really hopes the little one has your eyes as well. After all, you did marry a romantic, right?
But then something happened. Your urgent love-making didn’t produce a little one but a heap of disappointment. Month after month you sat by your bathroom sink, willing yourself to pass a test that you can’t even study for, hoping and praying for the double lines that will forever change your life. But as the months accumulated, you couldn’t help but feel like a failure. Why am I broken? Why would I have such a strong desire to be a Mother if it were never going to come true? Am I doing something wrong? Is he doing something wrong? Should we get tested? And after a certain amount of time, you do the scariest thing and see a doctor. And this doctor gives you the scariest news you’ll ever hear – Infertility. The word rocks you to the core, challenges your beliefs, leaves you feeling hollow and angry and bitter and grief-stricken. The future looks empty and much different than it did before.
Suddenly, you realize that you’re going to have an awful lot of free time on your hands, what with the decrease in sex and no children to care for and all. You wonder if you should take up hobbies like knitting and rock polishing while changing your magazine subscription from Parenting to European Travel. The numbness sets in and you begin your life as a couple. You make friends with other couples, only to dump them when they break the “happy news” to you that they’re expecting. You’ve now knitted 32 blankets and 45 scarves, but for some reason, you just keep coming back to that cute pattern of the little baby booties in your Knitting For Dumbies book. This book finally makes its way to the garbage and the needles are chucked into the street during a fit over tangled yarn. But we both know it really wasn’t about the yarn at all, was it? Because everywhere you go, you see happy women with fat bellies talking about due dates, onesies, and organic babyfoods. For a while, you consider moving to the nearest forest to live in one of those cute tree homes you saw in your new travel magazine.
The desire to be free from the media, families, mothers, and other people’s children so strong you actually called a guy who knows a guy who could get you a good deal on the tree home. But it turns out it was more expensive than the price for adoption so you accidentally on purpose lost the guy’s number and went back to avoiding all things that reminded you of the child-sized hole in your heart. And then one day you start to feel a little bit strong inside. You realize that you hadn’t cried yet that day and you actually couldn’t recall crying the day before either. You saw a mother pushing a stroller on the sidewalk and you said hello instead of breaking out in a cold sweat and crossing the street. Eventually, the ability to attend baby showers, christenings, and dedications seems less terrifying and a new thought begins to swirl around in your heart. It couldn’t be ignored anymore than the pain of infertility could, despite your family and friends telling you that it was time to “move on”. It's foster care.
You and your husband begin to weigh the options, talk to the people, fill out some papers, take some classes. There are caseworkers, permanency specialists, visitation schedules, court hearings. It all starts to feel so overwhelming. It starts to feel like Infertility all over again. Maybe this was a bad decision? What if we can’t handle this? What if we still never get a child? What if, what if, what if? Until one day, the phone rings. You’re not given much information, but they ask you if you want to take a child. Two children, actually. A brother and a sister. Will you do it? Can you do it? Your bravery and courage battle it out as you hold the phone and your breath at the same time. “Yes,” you finally whisper. “We’ll do it.” And you do. You do it with all that you have in you – on the days that are hard, on the days that are beyond hard, and on the days that are the hardest of all. You made your dream of Motherhood come true. It’s not how you planned or dreamed or fantasized all those years ago when you were making your list of baby names. But you became a mother - the best mother that your kids will ever know. There is nothing more amazing, beautiful, or life-affirming than giving birth to a child. Expect for being able to choose a child. To your little one, that is the most beautiful gift of all.