This past July, I thought I had the flu and just couldn’t shake it. I was dog-tired, achy, and a little nauseous. My sister was the one who was first to think I might be pregnant. I thought that was silly. It had taken us years to get our first son, and the fertility specialists told us not to expect the next one to come any quicker.
So, imagine my surprise to find that pink line one morning…
I now have the perspective of having been a woman who desperately wanted a child, who prayed, fasted, did fertility treatments, begged and pleaded to get my first baby, but for the past few months, I’m a woman who sometimes wanders around my house wondering how I can do this again, so soon after the first and before I feel like I really have a handle on my firstborn’s medical issues. I joke with my husband that I have Pre-Partum Depression, but most days, I don’t think I am joking.
The guilt for not being ecstatic about this next child is one of the most difficult emotions I’ve been experiencing over these past few months. It’s hard for me to appreciate the blessing that this baby came so easily (after all, we were planning on having another one eventually), and yet, I remember the heartache of infertility.
One of the topics I never tire of reading in the Bloggernacle is infertility, but for the last couple months, I can only quickly gloss over them and then, feel tremendously guilty for the rest of the day. When I look at my sister and her husband and how they have suffered, particularly in the past year, trying to have a baby, I want to tap God on the shoulder and say, “Um, do you realize you sent this baby to the wrong sister? It was supposed to go to Rachel, remember?”
No one could be more surprised about my reaction than myself. After all, I grew up with the idea that someone in my position (stable marriage, financial situation, etc.) would welcome a child whenever God saw fit to bless them. Yet here I am, feeling overwhelmed at the thought of late night feedings, buckling two kids in the car, or worse yet, having another sick kid. And, I’m only going to have two! What about a woman who’s having her sixth or seventh and doesn’t know how she’ll make ends meet?
This has made me wonder how often other Mormon women go through this and just don’t talk about it because of the Church’s rhetoric on motherhood. In so many Church talks, it comes across as highly idealized, a role we take on proudly no matter the sacrifices involved. I appreciate that the Church values the role of motherhood so highly. It’s a tough job, and for me, it feels increasingly like that sort of validation is hard to get outside of the Church.
But, when things start to feel dark, I think this portrayal of motherhood can make those who aren’t ready to take on that role feel more isolated. I’m back in a place that feels very similar to when I couldn’t have a baby. I can’t read Church talks on motherhood, and I don’t want to hear lessons on motherhood because of my self-imposed guilt.
I know I’ll appreciate this baby when it’s born; I already love it. I know there is an end in sight, and that’s a relief when I remember the waiting, month after month and year after year for my first. However, the emotional energy I’ve spent on these feelings is considerable, and despite my best efforts, I can’t shake these feelings. If motherhood is my most important role in this life (and I can only assume the next since the only role I know Heavenly Mother has is bearing children), what does it say about me that I’m not sure I’m ready to take on more children just yet?