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.
My interview on Fox news is here.