For a brief moment the house is clean and smelling of sterile products and freshness. It will stay this way until the rice I have on the stove boils over and I realize real life can only have a momentary break. The baby is down for a nap, her big sister doing who knows what downstairs and I can breath. After a long day of sitting through classes at work and thinking about all the other things I would rather be doing, I glance at my phone which has alarmed “check in with B”.
I do not know what it is like to not be able to get pregnant. As my rice boils over I think about the hardship that hits a woman’s heart after months of “trying” without reward. My sweet friend had sat down with me and cried as she expressed her desire to be a mother and wondering when it would be her turn. As my own little bundle of joy coughs and coos in the other room I think back on my own journey toward motherhood.
The evening after Matt and I did some lab work immediately after our second miscarriage we ventured over to some friends’ home for dinner. I wrestled with telling the ‘want-to-be’ mama that we had lost another baby. I knew the hurt would be great but lead to be vulnerable if she asked, I shared our afternoon activities. Her words in sharp reply, later apologized for, cut my soul deeply. Yes, I could get pregnant but with me, I couldn’t hang on to my babies. I didn’t know and still do not know what it is like to wait and try and try again. But I do know the longing for the children I did have and then was denied.
And so, since then, I sit and listen. I cry and I hug. I express remorse for my friends’ grief. I pray. I check-in. I have also had to hold loosely to some friendships which couldn’t take another one of my pregnancies. Friends, here or there, have expressed excitement for me and slowly stopped calling, stopped checking in and the silence becomes a bit awkward. It doesn’t mean they are any less excited for me or any more disappointment for themselves. It just is, and that’s okay.
A couple of fiends have asked me why they are the ones who can’t have a baby. Why, Steph, why? I don’t know. I just don’t know. Apart from my faith and belief in a sovereign God, there is little I feel I can offer on the ‘whys” of life. Pregnancy and being barren and loss of a child go back since time began. The longing to be a mother and seeing other women give birth to a baby who do not seem or show that they are not fit to be can be excruciating. The babies who need a good home after an abusive situation wreak us. Babies who are abandoned or malnourished just because of their geographic residence leave us feeling helpless.
Hannah, Sarah, Elisabeth, Rachel and so many other women in the Bible also struggled with the shame of not being able to have children. They longed, they cried, they were bitter and their husbands tried as they might to console them. “Am I not better than 7 sons?” Asked Hannah’s husband. And so too, as I sat with my most recent friend going through this struggle, we talked about our husbands inability to really understand, our desire to shade them from our disappointment and their presumed weariness for our tears.
I do not know the plans God has for these ladies but I do know if God allows, they will be amazing mothers. My friend who spoke those words to me is a mama of two with dreams, I would imagine, of more joyful music of baby feet and laughter on the horizon. I have have my two, sweet, blond girls who make me jump with anguish when they cough and induce smothering them with kisses even when I’m tired. And I pray a little harder and with greater intention that my friends will be able to experience this joy and lavished love some day. I pray that their faith in the God, who I believe gives life, would be restored or even started. But for now, I will sit and I will cry. I will hurt and I will hug if only to be a source of hope and comfort. And someday, soon, I hope to celebrate their children as eagerly as I have desired to mourn with them.