In my early twenties, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a mom. I couldn’t picture trading my neat apartment for baskets of baby toys and books, or my quiet afternoons for chasing around a toddler. I loved evenings out on the porch with a book, a glass of wine, and my sweet Seth. Traveling was easy. Our marriage was young and healthy. I could focus on my business. Why disrupt what was so good and that I loved so much with something I wasn’t sure I wanted?
After sharing this with friends a season or two ahead of me in life, those who had kids said they felt like that too for the most part but one day something switched. Overnight it went from happiness with a childless life to noticing babies everywhere (and actually wanting to hold them). As someone who has never been a baby person and would rather play with your dog than your child, I was dubious.
But they were right.
One day I was suspicious of the whole kid thing. And then I was imagining Christmas with a baby and my walks with a stroller. I felt this settling in my soul that I could do it. And just as strongly as I couldn’t picture my life with a baby, now I couldn’t picture the next 10 years without a tiny, wriggling human. (Note; it should be said that there were lots of conversations with Seth throughout all of this as we thought about all the pros and cons. But where I wasn’t sure, Seth has always known he would like to be a Dad. And I lot of the timing of this initial decision was around where I was and the logistics of our life, finances, etc.)
So we said we’d tried. After a couple of months, I looked down at a faint second line the day before our fifth anniversary. And a few months later we stood shell-shocked in a medical office as we were told that our baby no longer had a heartbeat.
I remember sitting in a follow-up appointment with my midwife after the miscarriage and nodding along as she said “You can try again in a couple of weeks if you would like. Lots of people get pregnant again quickly” while my thoughts were screaming “How could I want to risk this again. How could I want this again.”
I was shattered, grieving, and navigating a tidal wave of hormones. It turns out you experience the same hormone drop following a miscarriage as you do after giving birth. And it was not kind to me. I could not imagine being ready to get pregnant again.
Months later as I slowly started to feel like myself again we began having the same conversation we had had a year earlier – do we want to try again? Is this something we want? I was terrified. Seth was terrified and protective of me after watching what the last 5 months had done to me. And yet…the desire to be parents had slowly drifted back, hopeful to have a baby we would meet and hold and watch grow. My mental health was much healthier than it had been in the fall and the timing made sense. So we said ok. We’re in this together. Let’s have hope and know we will navigate the inevitable anxiety of the first trimester as a team.
But I didn’t get pregnant.
There was no first-trimester fear and nausea and exhaustion to deal with. Instead, it was ovulation tests and temperature tracking and hope and so much disappointment. There’s the knowing I need to reduce stress, but how could I do that when every month it feels like everything is careening just a little more out of control as we mourned plans that won’t play out (again)?
A fall baby could be tricky with my wedding season but we can make it work and it’s probably going to take a little while anyways. Negative pregnancy test. An October baby would mean holidays with a newborn. Maybe by Christmas, they’d be emerging from a potato phase. That could be fun. Negative pregnancy test. Ok, so maybe a Thanksgiving baby. We’ll cozy up at home and venture out for hot chocolate and a walk in our favorite historic neighborhood. Negative pregnancy test. At least the due date would be earlier in December now so less competition with Christmas and we’d make sure birthdays were still special. Negative pregnancy test. January would be my off-season. I don’t even care anymore. Why am I not pregnant yet? It happened quickly before. What is wrong with me? Negative pregnancy test. The baby would be due the same month as the one we lost. Would that be weird? We’ll navigate that if we need to, but it probably won’t happen anyways. Negative pregnancy test.
Over and over again. Every month you want to care a little less. Every month hurts a little more. Every month veers a little further away from how we thought this would be. Hope is accompanied by sadness and a negative test feels inevitable. But still, we hoped, month after month. And then hope slipped into weariness, into anxiety, into sleepless nights and agitation and panic and a brain so overloaded that every task feels like a mountain to work through.
How much am I willing to let this take from me?
Conversations about wanting a baby turned into conversations about what we were willing to do to become parents and concerns about the stress it was putting on both of us. It’s been nearly a year and a half since we first decided to start trying. And I am overwhelmed by all this has taken from us. I know we’ll never get back to the naivete and pure excitement we had when we first decided to start trying. But I do miss the contentment we had with our day-to-day life before all of this.
At this point, I often find myself wishing I never wanted to be a mom in the first place. I pray for the desire to be taken away. I don’t want it anymore. I miss who I used to be. And I miss living in the present. As hard as I have tried to not think thoughts of ‘due date would be x’ and that would mean ‘x’, those hopes run wild. And then every negative test means losing those plans and hopes and starting all over again. It’s made it ridiculously hard to look around at what is here and now and be grateful for that.
After testing some levels last month and making sure there was nothing obvious we were missing that was making it hard to get pregnant (there wasn’t) we decided to stop trying. Neither of us expected it to be like this, and honestly, we need a break.
Over the last weeks, the desire for a baby has started to fade. We can see our lives as just the two of us, and it is good and something we would be content with. I’ve started picturing the future again with just myself and Seth. I’m excited for Christmas at home with Hudson where we stay up late watching White Christmas (my favorite) and Jingle All the Way (Seth’s favorite) and still wake up rested in the morning. We would be happy loving on our herd of nieces and nephews. We love being “Aunt Addie & Uncle Seth”.
I had a slightly euphoric moment of deleting all my tracking apps and putting away my fertility bracelet and ovulation tests. I don’t remember the first day of my last cycle or the day I would take a pregnancy test. And I don’t know what is next. It’s been wonderful to stop thinking about what is next to be quite honest. It’s wild how much mental capacity trying for a baby can take.
This isn’t how I thought any of this would go.
We thought making the decision to be parents would lead to us being parents. I knew miscarriages and seasons of infertility happen, but I didn’t ever think about that being me. And then it was.
I’m not sure we’ll ever be parents, and I don’t mean that to be dramatic. We’ve talked about how much we’re willing to do to have a baby and both agree that the emotional, mental, physical, and financial cost that comes with fertility treatments isn’t for us right now. We would be content for the rest of our lives if it were the two of us. I love our life. I love the freedom and stability that comes with not having children. I love being an aunt to my precious nieces and nephews. And I think that would be more than enough joy and purpose for a lifetime.
I continue to hope but with no expectations. I’m more interested in returning to a place of contentment with what is here and now. My mind feels calm and my heart is at peace. And I’m more aware than maybe ever before how lucky I am to have Seth as a partner and how good the life that we’ve together is.