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Nobody’s Mommy

Lately “mom” stuff has been up for me. Obviously Mother’s Day, and all the ads and emails and reminders to fete the person responsible for birthing us, is bringing “Mom” and all things maternal to mind. However, I don’t know if I would be thinking so much about my non-mom status if it were just a regular Mother’s day. But these are not ordinary times for me. A few weeks ago I was contacted by the editor of Huffington Post to have two of my posts on infertility featured in their honoring of “National Infertility Awareness Week”. I was honored, as the editor told me that they were looking for stories that featured women who thrived after infertility. I was delighted to be asked but even more delighted to be imagined as a “post-infertility thriver”. I don’t think I have ever been described as a “thriver” before and it was an adjective that I was happy to add to my self-concept.

Having two pieces on Huffington Post, one about the etiquette of infertility and the other about finding peace after infertility, and being interviewed on Fox news about the etiquette of infertility, has brought up a lot of my feelings about being a non-mom, feelings that had been lying dormant or at least taking a long nap of repression and the thriving and all. The mommy-ache feelings got extra activated when very kind people—women whom I have never met and who only know me through my two posts on Huffington–offered to have a baby for me.

I can tell you that getting an email in which strangers tell you that they want to have a baby for you is a very surreal experience. I felt a melange of emotions in response to these emails. I felt grateful, touched, sad, and other emotions that are harder to explain…emotions like confusion and some mild paranoia. I read the emails and told Keith that there were people who wanted to have my baby. He took his glasses off and cocked his head in an attempt to make sense of the words he just heard.

“Huh?” He said.
“Yeah”, I repeated, “People want to have my baby.” I laughed.

Only after the laughter I started to cry. I started to cry because I could imagine having a baby with Keith. I began to cry because I wish I had met him earlier. I wish we had met when I was  young enough to still think having a baby was a good idea( I am objectively too old now. It is true for me. Maybe some people are okay with having a baby at 47, I am not). I cried because of the imaginary daughter that Keith and I talk about. The daughter that I am overprotective of and the daughter that he imagines trying to overprotect from my overprotection. I cried because I’ll never meet that girl.

I know these strangers who offered to have a baby for me where doing something kind, selfless, and unspeakably generous. And the sad part was that the only answer to their kind offer was “no”. It’s too late. My window for traditional motherhood is closed, sealed and permanently shut. Sure, I know, there are lots of ways to mother, and I feel grateful to have the opportunities I do to mother. I get to mother patients, friends, and even, on occasion, my own mother. But I will never be anyone’s “Mommy”. That may not be news to you. You likely know that. I know that. But there are other times I KNOW it. And today, on Mexican Mother’s day, I really know it.

This mother stuff and the pain of not being one—it does get easier with time. But there are times when it hits hard and there are times when the pain feels as fresh as the first time I realized that I would never be a mother. Today is one of those days.

*******

If you haven’t seen my pieces on the Huffington Post they are here and here.

My interview on Fox news is here.

17 Responses to “Nobody’s Mommy”


  • Belette, All I can say is xoxoxoxo. And I am glad you are thriving, which you are :-)

  • It is interesting that you happened to mention El Día de la Madre because I have spent the entire day engaged in activities of one sort or the other associated with that holiday in Mexico–school presentations, traffic jams at noon due to restaurants filling up with mothers and their admirers, ladies on every corner with a rose or potted plant with a heart attached, oh, and cards and T-shirts…

    I used to hate Mother’s Day for years after my mother’s suicide but now I just notice how I never had children of my own and all the work all those women do. I’m wondering whether or not they should at least have Mother’s Month… Week?

  • Tracey, Martin and I think of you as a wonderful nurturer. I bet Keith feels that way too. xoxo

  • Hi Tracey. I’m relatively new to your blog (been following only for a few months), so I didn’t make the connection when I read your Huff Post pieces. I loved them both, and I’m off to watch the Fox News piece.

    I also had a piece published (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-rooney/infertility-grieving_b_1455880.html), and like you was thrilled to think that finally, they were focusing on infertility survivors. I love the phrase “infertility thrivers.” I’m going to use that one. I might not always feel as if I am thriving (and this Sunday I won’t – like you, there are times I really KNOW I’m not a mother), but it is something to aspire to.

  • I want you to know that you are an inspiration to me. I still hope that my dream of motherhood will come true. I recently turned 38 and am in the midst of treatments. Your honesty and grace have helped me as I manage my feelings each month. You give me hope that even if my dreams don’t come true, I can still find contentment. I am sorry that this wound has been opened again for you.

  • Thank you for being an infertility thriver! I strive for it daily and yes, some days are better than others. Take extra good care of yourself this weekend you deserve it.

  • That was so beautiful. Where in the cortex of our brain does regret live. Regret for what could have been if only??? I have that, not about being a Mom, because I am, but about other things that I regret not doing or doing. Circumstances that I was either in control of or not in control over. I beat myself up and obsess over it. Then I go to my calm place and it subsides for a while but it is always there. This weekend will be hard for you because it is a trigger and I am sorry for that. You ARE a thriver and so am I. I admire you and I wish we lived closer so we could be real friends BUT I will not have your baby :)

  • I too had a piece on the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nicole-ciomek/infertility-women-without-children-childless_b_1445054.html) and found the outpouring of affection and positivity to be overwhelming… in a good way. So this Mother’s Day, I am left feeling strong. I actually just wrote about Mother’s Day today my blog. But, I know what you mean. Things like this always bring up a lot of emotions. Last Mother’s Day, I was very down. I am finding that infertility and not being part of the Mom’s club is getting easier with time. Bravo on your Huffington Post pieces and your interview!! Very exciting. Take care of yourself this weekend and give Keith lots of hugs when you need them. He sounds like an excellent partner :)

  • I saw your pieces on HuffPo & thought they were brilliant. : ) You are not alone. It’s 14 years since my one & only (failed) pregnancy, & 11 years since my last infertility treatment… I like to think we have built a good life for ourselves… but what I now refer to as Voldemort Day (i.e., The Day Which Shall Not Be Named) still has the power to sting.

    I can’t believe people were offering to be your surrogate. Like it’s just THAT EASY, right??

  • Dear LBR,

    Congratulations on the pieces in Huffington Post and the Fox interview. I think it is touching that people would offer to have a child for you. It is also weird but maybe not so weird. Only a few years ago I learned that some parents gave their kids to their relatives that could not have kids. Those kids were seriously hurt and yet those parents thought the idea was a good one. I wish you a happy doggy mommy day! Please smile because your Lily is lovely. xo

  • Oh lovely… I’m so sorry you’re in this part of emotional ebb and flow. I wish it were otherwise. I am glad (for you and for me and for all of us) that it does get easier — and it does, really — but sometimes that leaves us all the more vulnerable when the avalanche of knowing comes right down on our heads. There’s a Billie Holiday song that Daniel likes to remind me of: “Good morning heartache, sit down.” I guess the best we can do is look at heartache when she comes in and say, “Oh, you again. Want some coffee? But don’t get too comfortable, and don’t stay too long.”

  • You are a mom to Lily – that means the world to her! I can see it in her cute little face!

    XO

  • You are nuturing spirit, believe you mother in many other ways and guide many young woman. With gratitude for lighting the way. You touch many hearts by being so honest in your thoughts and feelings. You are a thriver and a talented writer. Lily is lucky to have you as a mom. Congrats on the recent posts!

  • Would an email about the trials and tribulations of motherhood help? Only the bad stuff!
    Just let me know, my dear Tracey, and I’ll write it.
    I send you a huge hug.

  • Yes, it’s Mother’s Day yet again. I feel you, Ruby.

    Sending you huge hugs.

    XOXOXO.

  • Oh honey, you are definitely thriving! As for Mother’s Day and not being a Mom….just a gentle reminder that because a woman gives birth to a child doesn’t guarantee that she will be a good Mom. I could cite case after case of “Bad Mom Syndrome” (I made that up – - you won’t find it in the DSM IV-R). I am sure you and your readers could probably think of examples as well.

    It is lovely that you and Keith imagine what your child together would be like and how you would parent her. I am sure she would be healthy, well-adjusted and loved….just as I am sure you would be a GREAT MOM!

    It is understandable that you wish you and Keith had met when you were younger. But, you wouldn’t be the people you are today and would that impact the relationship you have now? Sometimes it is the wounds of our past lives (horrible marriages, bad parents, infertility, etc.) that shape us into who we are now and allow us to share a beautiful life with the person we love. You are fortunate that you and Keith met each other now.

    Some people never allow those past life wounds to heal. They are stuck in their misery and often thrive on trying to hurt others rather than moving on and finding their own happiness. My ex-husband, an alcoholic, was one such person.

    I am so happy for you. You are healing and you are thriving. You continue to inspire me.

  • No words. I feel for you and can not imagine your pain-others out there are so lucky to have you to write for them. Keep it up! Xoxo

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About Me

My name is Tracey, aka La Belette Rouge. I am a psychotherapist and the author of Freudian Sip @ Psychology Today. I blog about psychology, my therapy, dreams, writing, meaning making, home, longing, loss, infertility and other things that delight or inspire me. I try to make deep and elusive psychodynamic concepts accessible and funny. For more information, click here .
These blog posts are informational only and not meant to replace individual psychotherapy, counseling or medical advice. If you are in need of help, reaching out to a professional may help you decide how to proceed or how to find the care you need. For a referral, contact

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