Photo by K. Binkowski

I didn’t expect the emptiness.

I expected the cramps. I expected the fear. I expected the loss and the headaches and the heartache. But with only ten weeks down and a full thirty to go I didn’t expect the emptiness that settled in around me.

I had spent 29 years, 4 months, and 1 day waiting to be a mother. Yes I wanted a career, I built my own business after all. I wanted unrelenting love, and was beyond blessed to find it in a curly haired wanderer. But more than anything I wanted – I want – to be a mother. So after a seemingly interminable bout of infertility – two months or two years, no doubt it always feels too long – it was with surreal bliss that we finally welcomed pregnancy into our lives. By that point, names were already known. A decade  worth  of  bookmarked  baby  products  were paged through. A few teeny tiny favorites were pulled out of a  dusty  drawer  with  awe and disbelief.

After so much waiting, that faint blue stripe was our sanction to finally start celebrating. So celebrate we did. Cautiously, of course, but when you wait that long and hope that hard it is all but impossible not to fall fast.

So to end up under the flashing neon lights of a sterile emergency room on a dark spring night was nothing short of devastating. Truth be told, I can’t imagine it is ever anything less than that. Most of it is still a blur. Some combination of hurry up and wait, humiliating gowns and embarrassing tears – all while you wait with bated breath for the pulse of a heartbeat on a black and white screen. It never comes and by that point you knew it never would and still you can’t hear a word the doctor mutters when she confirms your worst nightmare come true.

In the end, you are left to wait it out. Just the two of you, just like it never happened and just like it always was. Hour after hour and then day after day. I spent some time heaving against any hope we had built up. I wished I was stronger. I still do and maybe I always will. But slowly his whisperings are starting to settle in. There are fleeting moments when I begin to believe again. I find pride in the story that now only we can tell, the experience woven into my unique journey towards motherhood. Still, the pain lingers just long enough for the emptiness to set in.

An emptiness that perhaps I should have seen coming but I really never did.

Because there are so many things we never say as women. We so rarely talk about the hardest parts. There are words we never say aloud, as if breathing them into existence might jinx our own carefully curated good fortune. But with every silence another woman is left unprepared against the all too terrifying odds. Because that is all they are, that is all this is: an adventure in beating the odds, succumbing to our own realities, and celebrating all that we already have, whenever we possibly can, however completely inadequate it may feel.

The irony isn’t lost on me. The fact that motherhood would be ripped from my reach the very week when women the world over celebrate love from their littles – it’s salt in the wound. A wound I’m only just beginning to heal, in part by pouring these words on to a page. I don’t know when my turn will come. Some hours I wonder if it ever will and other moments I muster the strength to hold out hope. All the while, I stand here at the ready.

So this one’s for the someday mothers. The almost were mothers. The hope to maybe be mothers. Let us find strength in one another’s stories. Let us stand against all odds. Let us swing gracefully between the bouts of joy on this journey until it is, finally, our turn.

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