After four years, multiple IVF cycles, three devastating miscarriages, and countless setbacks … Aela’s road to motherhood has been anything but easy. Follow her story on Babble and don’t miss the latest chapter in her journey below.
What if I don’t ever successfully birth a baby into this world?
After four years of infertility, this is a serious question I’ve been asking myself. When I think about not becoming a mother, I can’t help but feel like a failure. Couple that with the stigma from moms and I feel an immense pressure that I’m not good enough unless I have children.
My baby fever has been in high gear for roughly six years, and I’ve been actively trying to get pregnant and stay pregnant for four years. It’s been a long journey, littered with heartbreak and disappointment and more loss than anyone should have to suffer through. As the months and years continue on without making me a mother, I can’t help but wonder what my life will be like if I don’t ever have children.
When I think of the plight of women like me — childless not by choice — my heart aches for us. What happens if you don’t end up with the one thing you’ve worked so hard for? Will I feel like a failure if I don’t have kids? I’ve committed four years of my life so far to becoming a mom. What if I don’t have children? What if I truly can’t have children? I can try and try and try, but there are women who just can’t have kids. What if I’m one of them?
Infertility itself makes you feel like your body has failed you. And even if all logic tells us that it’s not our fault, it sure does feel like it is. My body is mine. My body cannot do what I want it to do. It is seemingly unable to do what it is supposed to do. Maybe there’s some awful societal misogyny laced in this thinking because surely women are so much more than their bodies, but still — even a liberal feminist lesbian like myself can’t help but feel like I’m broken. Like I’m failing desperately here.
Women who are childless not by choice face incredible pressure from society and, more notably, from other moms who, unwittingly or not, make you feel totally excluded. We expect this from society, right? We expect to be looked at with questioning faces and even judgmental glances that we are grown women without children, as if we’re some broken species all our own, or that we’re part of “what’s wrong with the world today.” But it’s the very real judgment from other mothers that hits us most in the gut.
You just don’t get it until you’re a mom.
Talk to me when you’ve got kids.
Nothing validates your womanhood more than giving birth.
These statements hurt. Some women — not all, but some — know exactly what they’re doing when they say these things. They want our lives to be defined by the accomplishment of having and raising children (and, yes, it IS an accomplishment and certainly one to be proud of), but far too many of these women highlight this part of their lives as a way to showcase their rank. They’re the next-level woman you just ain’t yet. And they love to remind you.
Of course, I recognize that my own views are what trap me in these feelings and notes them as shortcomings. I’ve always been successful, in all I’ve done until now. I work for something and I get it — college, jobs, relationships — you name it. I’ve never worked for something and NOT gotten it. Hard work pays off, right? Isn’t that what we’re taught? How can I feel like anything but a failure if I don’t end up having a baby after all the time and work I’ve put into this?
I don’t have the answers to my own questions, and I don’t know how to find them.