My husband and I have been trying to have a baby.
You’re not supposed to tell people you’re trying to have a baby while you’re trying to have a baby. In part, I’m sure, because of the awkwardness that sinks in when then they realize they are picturing you trying to make a baby, and in part because, as it turns out, baby-making is not nearly as easy as they make it seem in high school health class.
But whatever. There it is for a bunch of people I’ve never met. We’re trying to have a baby.
And of all the things in life that make you realize you don’t have total control over your life—making a baby is up there with the best of them.
I’ve run a business, been to graduate school, taught middle school kids, traveled to foreign countries where I didn’t speak the language, and none of those things have made me feel as out-of-control as this does. Trying to conceive. Or “TTC” as they say in the forums, which I compulsively read, to my great detriment.
But the whole thing has me thinking about what happens when we really want something in life and can’t get it, or can’t get it right away, or when it seems like we may never get it. Whether it’s a different job or a way out of a toxic relationship, or to get married or have a baby.
How much control do we actually have in life?
This is the question that keeps running through my mind. Because there is certainly a part of me that wants to believe we have much more control than we think we have—that we can make positive decisions and have a positive attitude and that, eventually, we’ll see positive results.
But then there is another part of me who lays awake at night googling, “does a sore left pinky toe mean I’m pregnant?” and reading the dozens of articles that confirm, yes, a sore left pinky toe does in fact possibly mean you could definitely be pregnant, and that part of me is the same part of me who feels so sad and hopeless each time my cycle ends and the inevitable strip comes back blank.
And let me just stop and say for a minute that I wish I was one of those people who just naturally felt really optimistic about life.
I have a friend like this. She’s so great to be around. I think I’ve only seen her cry once, and even then it was for like five minutes after someone close to her had died. And every time I cry like someone died because of some imaginary worst case scenario I have totally imagined in my head, I think of her and only wish I could be so collected and composed.
I’d probably have more friends.
But instead I’m the girl who bypasses all logical sources that say it can take a year for even totally healthy couples to conceive, and instead I stay up late at night searching Pinterest for articles titled “why can’t I get pregnant?” ordering supplements on Amazon and pondering how one might go about eating a pineapple core.
Still, I try to remind myself of a couple of things while I’m waiting.
I think of what I would tell myself if I were not myself, because that always makes it easier to give myself advice, and to actually take it. And surprisingly quite a bit of clarity actually comes to me in those moments.
I can’t say it always keeps me from my late night google searches, but in a season of wanting something I don’t have, here’s what I try to remind myself.
There is still time. It’s not too late.
One of the most stressful parts about trying to get something you want but don’t have is suddenly, out of nowhere, it makes you begin to question absolutely everything about your life. Like what have I been doing all this time and where did I get all this grey hair and wasn’t I just 21 yesterday?
And why did I waste all my peak years watching reality TV?
And when we’re in this place, it seems like if I don’t get the thing we are trying to get by, like, TOMORROW, we’re going to miss our window.
So when this feeling creeps up on me, I try to remind myself there is no such thing as a “window,” that I probably haven’t wasted as much time as I think I have, and that it really is never too late to start moving toward what you want.
Wanting is a good thing.
Wanting things we don’t have—or can’t get right away—is uncomfortable. So our tendency is to move through the wanting as fast as possible, or to numb our way through, or to just go ahead and pretend like we don’t want anything anyway (“Baby? What baby? I’m too busy to think about that…”)
But wanting something is actually a sign of a healthy person.
We would never look at someone who never ate food and call them healthy, so why are so many of us walking through life, trying to pretend we aren’t hungry? Wanting is a good thing. And admitting what we want is often the first step to getting it.
There’s nothing wrong with you.
It’s easy to look at the people around you, and think about how they’ve achieved the things you want in life. They have the marriage, or the family, or the career, or the attention, or the wardrobe, or whatever. But there’s a reason they say comparison is the thief of joy.
Because the minute I start to let myself go here, I get this sinking feeling there must be something wrong with me—with the direction I’ve chosen for my life, or the decisions I’ve made, or the fact that a 16-year-old girl can accidentally get pregnant but I can’t even do it on purpose.
I lose sight of the beautiful things I’ve made in my life, just because none of them look like babies.
Here’s what I want to tell myself, and you, if you happen to need it: There is nothing wrong with you. Getting what you want just takes time.
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
I had a friend say this to me a few weeks ago and it stuck with me. What she meant was, while there are a lot of things you can’t control in your life, there are some things you can control. So why not focus on those things?
We can’t change where we start from, but we can decide to get started. We can’t invent resources out of thin air, but we can use what we have toward what we want. We can’t do everything there is to do but we can do something. And something is better than nothing.
In fact, something might just be enough.
Don’t want alone.
Honestly, I had planned to keep this whole thing to myself until I had good news to share. That just seemed like the logical, mature, “I’ve got this covered” thing to do. And besides, that what everyone else was doing…
But then a few weeks ago I started thinking how much it would help to have just a few people I loved know what I was going through. So I went totally outside my comfort zone and sent a message. It was a small group of women, most of who are moms, and all of whom I knew would get it.
It was hard to send that message. I’ll be honest. It takes guts to talk about what we really want.
But you know what? Their response was overwhelming. I never knew how much I needed people to know what I was going through until they knew. And I never realized what a difference it would make to stop wanting things alone and let other people want them with me.