Welcoming Baby (when it’s not yours) [NIAW]

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” –Henry David Thoreau

This is a week-long series to invite you to look through the eyes of infertility for a moment, as part of the NIAW (National Infertility Awareness Week). This is not a series about the medical condition of Infertility – you can find facts here if interested. 

Instead, this series is dedicated to the heart’s awakening to emptiness – and ultimately, to life. Even without an answer. Each day this week, I’ll be sharing a letter that I penned throughout this journey of infertility, as I tried to find words to describe the silent experience. Days filled with hope, cynicism, laughter, tears – and sometimes all at once.

One in eight couples are experiencing infertility right now – about 7.3 million. We are 1 in 8.

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More than 200 babies have been born to our social circle since we first started trying. That means I’ve had, umm, a lot of practice in “the reaction” to pregnancy announcements, births, baby showers and first birthdays. I’ve cried, laughed, cursed, whimpered, scowled, celebrated, jumped, squealed and hid. Let me be clear: all the littles that fill our lives are SUCH a gift – it’s just that their arrival sometimes provides shock waves.

Truth told, it’s not always a friend’s first child that stops me in my tracks, but when they start popping out number two or even three, well, that’s a bit disorienting. It’s easy to feel like your feet are stuck in quick-sand while people are running laps around you.

But one of the sweetest announcements I ever received was from a friend who had also dealt with nearly a decade of infertility. A lot of people tell you “it will happen someday”, but in truth the odds are severely against that – chances of an infertile couple conceiving go DOWN each year, not up. With all the different emotions that can flood your mind when another pregnancy is announced, I think there’s also this heightened sense of awareness for the TTC (trying to conceive) community. Because you know what a miracle one little embryo is. Especially to someone who’s been told it would never happen.

This is a letter I penned years ago in celebration of one such miracle.

Dear Shan,

Ah my friend, today you have crossed into a new world.   Today, the day you gave birth to your beautiful baby boy, you are entering the-land-of-the-newborn. I hear it is a beautiful but sometimes terrifying place.

As you start this new journey, the first thing I want to say is “thank you”. Thank you for being my guide through the desert of infertility for so long. You spoke words to me that were exactly what I needed to hear. You knew when to stay silent. You let me rant, rave, cry, and nervously giggle when the emotions were all jumbled.

Thank you for sharing your heart so freely, because it helped me find my own. You gave me freedom and courage to be honest about this journey. I know you won’t ever forget your own nine-year journey through infertility, because it’s so much more than a physical journey, but not everyone is willing to share it, and you were. And that has meant the world to me.

And second, I want to say DRINK UP! You will always remember the desert, but you don’t live there anymore. So drink, drink, DRINK … drink in the smell of your baby. Drink in the magic of ten little perfect fingers and toes. Drink in the baby meows and coos and cuddles. Drink in the cutest chubbiest cheeks this side of the Mississippi. Okay, both sides of the Mississippi. Drink in the midnight feedings when it’s just you and him while the rest of the world sleeps. Drink in the attention and the oggling. Drink in the wonder that God opened your womb.

Don’t hold back. And don’t apologize. Not to me, not to anyone else still wandering their desert. Don’t hide your babe from us. Because we need to drink him in too … even if my story isn’t your story, I need to drink from the well of promise and hope that this baby boy represents. I need to hold him and cuddle him and laugh at all the adorb things that he inherited from you.

And I might need to cry. I might need to cry because I don’t get to keep him, because I don’t get to see my husband’s eyes in his. And because you are now entering a world that I might never relate to, never really understand. I will listen, and nod, and even chime in my overblown opinion from time to time, but probably won’t understand. Tell me about it anyways.

And I might need to brag, to celebrate that I don’t have to wake up every two hours. To sigh in relief because I’m not juggling life with a newborn. To go on and on about my trip to the Caribbean in this carefree childless life I lead.

Each moment – laughing, crying, bragging with you through this new chapter – is a tiny sip, a tiny dip into the well that reminds me that this sacred journey is not arbitrary and that for some, it’s not forever.

I LOVE YOU. So much. I’m SO excited for you and I’m already in love with his little face. So many new things lie ahead. So DRINK, savor, and celebrate my friend, for you are doubly blessed as God has trusted you with a desert and now, an overflowing oasis.

 

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