What I Want You to Know is a series of
reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their
personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the
unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to
this series,
click here. Today’s guest posts is by Rachel.

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I’m confused. No, I’m downright exasperated.

I have all these feelings I’ve never had before. Feelings related to…babies.
Babies. There’s a word that’s never on my radar–a word I don’t think much about.

Even
as a teenager, when babysitting was all the rage, I would decline the
opportunity every single time. When I was newly married and in my early
twenties, I was fastidious about preventing pregnancy; birth control was
my best friend. Later on, I was a nanny for three short (but long)
months to mostly well-behaved children, but I couldn’t wait to leave at
the end of my five hour shift each day. Kids, babies—they’re just not
my thing.

Even as everyone around me has babies, is pregnant or
is actively trying to create their own mini me, I don’t like to give
babies much thought. They’re so much work; they will impede my ability
to travel at will; they might make my cats unhappy. Did I mention they
are SO MUCH WORK?

But then my brother and his wife created the
most beautiful child I’ve ever seen. A just married and young friend
(I’m 14 years her senior) just announced her pregnancy. A young couple
in my church had twins (a boy and a girl!). And countless friends are
thinking about starting families or working on their second child.

So
now, feeling a bit old and reaching the end of my prime child bearing
years, I’m thinking about babies—because they are everywhere. One friend
pointed out, “Everyone around you is getting pregnant. I hope I’m not
next.” My instant thought was, “I hope I’M not next.”

But I do
want to be next. That’s why I’m so confused and exasperated–my feelings
are conflicted and my thoughts betray me daily.

My husband and I
have not used birth control for about two years. We’ve had no results.
Due to my age, I even gave a common fertility drug a try. Still nothing.
My doctor’s diagnosis: “unexplained infertility.” Thanks, Doc, that
explains everything.

I think it’s time I face the facts that I’m
fighting tooth and nail against—I want to start a family. Even though
it’s not something I ever thought I’d long for. Even though I don’t have
“baby fever.” Even though the thought of being responsible for a tiny
person scares the fire out of me (and makes me tired).

I just need to come clean—I want a baby.

But before I admit to that completely, there are a few things I want you to know.

A
friend once asked me, “Are you jealous because I’m pregnant?” This
question shocked me (for many, many reasons). Mainly, I was shocked
because I had never related her pregnancy to my lack of pregnancy.
Hormonal swings, swollen feet, and stretch marks do not induce envy in
me.

So, I want you to know that I’m not jealous. When I hold your
baby, I don’t wish she was mine. When I hear that you’re expecting, I
don’t envy you. When I see an ultrasound picture of your little life
form, I don’t wish that image was nestled in my own uterus.

I’d
be lying if I said I don’t feel SOMETHING. But this indescribable
“something” is more like a pang–a swift kick in the ribs by my
nonexistent child—a reminder that it’s not so easy for me. This pang
can be subtle like a fleeting, sad thought or powerful like a tidal wave
of grief.

Which leads me to another thing I want you to know:
Even though it’s not so easy for me to conceive, I don’t want you to
feel sorry for me. If you have a family, are pregnant, or are
particularly fertile, I’m actually happy for you. My inability to have a
child is separate from your joy. I will even kiss your baby’s chubby
cheeks and motorboat his belly to hear him laugh (but don’t ask me to
change any diapers).

In fact, I’ll take it a step further. While
you may have compassion on me due to my childless state, I don’t want
you to try to empathize with me. Empathy means understanding my
feelings. If you haven’t walked my path, you will never understand. So
I’m taking the pressure off—you can’t possibly know what this feels like
and I don’t judge you for that.

While I’m busy telling you the
things you should know, my inner voice is shouting at me, telling me
there are a few things I should know. These are the things I don’t want
to admit.

I don’t want to admit that babies are on my radar, but I
need to know that it’s okay if they are. It’s okay to have a
particularly girly desire to decorate a nursery, sing lullabies, smell
that sweet, newborn baby smell, or have tickle wars with a giggling
toddler.

I don’t want to admit I have feelings about my
infertility, but I need to know that it’s perfectly normal to feel this
way. If I’m being honest, it feels a little like grief. No, it feels a
lot like grief. A confounding kind of grief, because I’m mourning the
loss of a person I never knew, a person that never even existed. I never
counted his fingers and toes or gave him his first bath or wrapped him
up in footie pajamas like a perfect little gift.

I admit it. I’m sad about the whole thing.

I
want you to know that I’m sad. But I also want you to know that I’m not
unhappy on this path. I know there are more doctors’ offices to visit,
more ovulation tests to buy, and more options available. Adoption is an
exciting prospect to me.

So while sometimes this path is
difficult and veers suddenly on rocky ground, I can see a grassy field
opening up ahead. My not-yet-assembled family is waiting there, so while
my God makes a way for me, I’ll learn some lessons, mostly about
patience, gratitude, and the importance of honesty and vulnerability.