Motherhood Lost

I have previously posted this on Facebook, but I’d like to have it here as well.

In the Old Testament, Sarah is the wife of Abraham. She is infertile and impatient. She doesn’t trust God when He tells her that she will eventually have a child. In fact, she laughs in His face. I might have doubted too, because it took until she was ninety before she conceived Isaac, a patriarch of Judaism. Thus, Sarah eventually became the “mother of many nations” that God promised her she would be.

My name is Sarah. Unlike the biblical version, I will never be a mother. Not of many nations, not of one child.

I truly am infertile.

The medical reasons behind my inability to carry a pregnancy are mostly irrelevant. They are such a small part of the story. The part of the story that stays with me, that follows me like a ghost as I continue to try and heal, is the grief.

I have always wanted to be a mother. Since I was a little girl playing with my baby dolls, since I knew how pregnancy worked, since I could remember. I wanted children. I dreamed what a lot of women dreamed.

I began babysitting at 14; I still babysit my friends’ kids. I volunteered with kids in organizations that protected them from abuse. I rescue cats, one of whom is like my baby; we’ve been inseparable for fifteen years. I mentor a teen in the juvenile justice system. I have a godson that I love with all of my heart. I have a niece and a nephew and another one on the way.

And even though I have and do all of this I am keenly aware of one thing:

None if it is enough.

There are many days when I feel fine, normal. There are days when I’m not sad at all, or only just a little. Then there are days when I am completely slammed with the reality that no matter how many nieces and nephews and godchildren and cats I have, no matter how many children I babysit or volunteer my time to, I will never have a child in my womb. I will never understand what my friends mean when they talk about how their children are physically part of them, how the love they share is something special because of that physical bond. And even if God grants me the gift and honor of being an adoptive parent, I still will never know what those women are talking about; that primal, heart-to-heart connection a woman has with a child that is physically hers.

And maybe none of that matters. Maybe I will develop a love for my adoptive children that is just as strong and special. And I think my history as survivor of family trauma makes me specially capable at caring for children who were separated from their birth parents at an early age.

All I know is, right now there are times when I feel the aching chasm of my empty uterus within me. I feel it and I know that the one thing that could fill it is the one thing that is impossible for me. So when I see another pregnancy or birth announcement on Facebook, or when people get into conversations about their kids that I can’t add to, there’s a tiny, grieving part of me that can’t stand to listen.

At least, not right now.

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