Or after we stop trying. Or after we adopt. Or after I relax (which is the worst thing to say to someone trying to have children).
Listen, I love you and I know you mean well. And “you” isn’t one specific you. We’ve had so many people say something along these lines to us. They know someone (or someone who knows someone) who struggled to get pregnant so they went through the adoption process, and as soon as they received their placement, they found out they were pregnant! Or they know someone (or someone who knows someone who knows someone) who has been trying for seven years, and they’re finally pregnant!
I am so happy for those people. Truly. I’m glad that their patience, perseverance, and prayers paid off. I’m overjoyed they get the experience of growing a human, birthing a child, sleepless nights, endless feedings, poopy diapers atop poopy diapers, and all that jazz.
And while you mean well, infertility is different for every person or couple. Just as any child Ian and I could possibly someday conceive will be unique to the world, our struggle is unique as well. That friend (or friend of a friend) you know, they’re not us. Their story is not our story.
You say it to comfort me and give me hope. But it’s a false hope. The reality of the situation is we’re not totally sure why we haven’t been able to conceive, we have some suspicions, but no smoking gun. And we may never get pregnant. I get sad about it still. I can’t put my finger on why, but I’d bet it has something to with that maternal instinct to procreate. If a small wave of sadness hits while I’m around you, let me weep a little. It’s ok you can’t comfort me, and if you feel like you need to say something, just say “I’m sorry you’re going through this. Do you want to go eat some ice cream?”
I haven’t mentioned this sooner because I wanted to cling on to the hope you were giving me. I wanted to be that fortunate couple whose perseverance paid off. But then our patience for having biological children ran out, and we started down a new path called foster care.
If you skimmed this post, please read from here to the end. The reason I’m asking you to stop now is because when you say “You know, as soon as you get foster kids, you’ll get pregnant,” you’re doing something far worse than attempting to give us false hope. You’re saying our foster children aren’t the children we’ve been waiting for. You’re segregating our foster children from our children. But to us, they are our children. They are the children we’ve been waiting for. There’s no “foster” about it. Regardless of how long they’re ours, we are going to love them hard and become extra-attached to them—because that’s what they need and deserve.
As our friends and family, I’m asking the same of you. I know it’s a big ask and, for a lot of you, it’s foreign territory. You didn’t get to rub my belly or visit us in the hospital after their birth or witness their first few months or years of life, but we need you to love them like you did. Don’t associate the stigma of foster care with our children, there’s no reason to be scared of or timid around them, they aren’t damaged goods.
And most importantly, stop thinking beyond them. They’re more than enough for us, so let them be enough for you.