A little over four years ago I decided what I wanted to be. Life is weird like that, isn’t it? We exist, we try our best, and then one day we realize what we should be when we grow up. Well, I’m 34 so I guess you could call me grown, but you get the point.
My decision was simple; I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I wanted one of the world’s most thankless jobs, and y’all I was ridiculously excited about it.
Content Warning: This post contains information about pregnancy, miscarriage, and depression that could be upsetting for some readers.
My husband and I wanted multiple children, maybe 2-3. We optimistically planned, as one does; “if we start now we can have 3 by the time we’re 35!!” We were so excited. We could picture kids running around our farm, playing with dogs, and collecting eggs from chickens. We imagined first steps, family dinners, and game nights. We knew it would come with challenges, but we were so bright-eyed.
At the start
We were filled with so much hope and happiness. We tried for a year, and nothing happened. We both made huge lifestyle changes. We cut out alcohol completely, we both lost weight, and we restructured our diets. I started going to therapy to keep my mental health strong.
Another year or so passed. Still nothing. Life kept passing me by. My husband worked long days as a doctor. My friends were all settling into their chosen professions. And I was at home, running the farm and patiently waiting for my life to start.
I began getting a lot of “when are you having kids?” inquiries from people. Those comments are difficult to navigate. I never want to make people feel awkward, but their questions always make me feel awkward and depressed. I always say things like “oh, we’ll see.” or “soon, maybe.” Sometimes people say things like “well you better hurry, you aren’t getting any younger.” And I always want to reply “YES, I KNOW!!!!” But I always kindly nod.
Time kept passing, our friends started getting pregnant, and I started getting discouraged. We had been doing everything right; we were tracking ovulation, exercising, eating healthy, and abstaining from alcohol.
A promise unfulfilled
It felt like the world’s longest job interview. Every month I would reapply for my dream job, wait a few weeks, then find out I hadn’t gotten the job. It was rough. It was applying, waiting, testing, and failing.
I started feeling like my life was passing me by. I felt like I was doing myself an injustice buy being a housewife. I felt very unfulfilled. I wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom. I wanted to be covered in puke, changing diapers, and exhausted all the time. I wanted to help bring something to the world that could perhaps be better than me; isn’t that what we hope for our children? But I was beginning to wonder if it would ever happen for me.
My husband was moving up the ladder at work. My friends were having second and third children. And I was at a stalemate. I was watching everyone live their lives while I was stuck. It was debilitating in a lot of ways. What started as hope and happiness had turned into emptiness and fear. I considered getting a part-time job or going back to school. But I knew what job my heart really wanted. Plus, I was in college for five years and grad school for two, I’d had enough school.
A new hope
I was making breakfast one day when I suddenly became queasy. I called my husband and told him to bring a pregnancy test home, and y’all WE WERE PREGNANT! And we were so thrilled. All the heartbreak melted away.
We immediately started talking to our baby. We told them stories, we danced around the house to Broadway show tunes, and constantly reminded them of our love. My body started changing and I started showing. I bought maternity clothes. It was spectacular and everything I wanted. Our first ultrasound and all of our bloodwork was perfect. Everything was progressing as it should. My life was finally happening. This was the job I wanted.
The road to happiness has potholes
We hadn’t announced it yet. We’d only told our closest friends and family. We were waiting till after our second ultrasound. We wanted to get a good ultrasound picture for our pregnancy announcement.
But when we saw the images on the screen we both knew that we’d had a miscarriage. My husband squeezed my had with all the gentle strength he had. We were both heartbroken. Over the next several days I began physically experiencing my miscarriage; heavy bleeding, intense cramping, nausea, etc… It all became very real. It hurt physically. But it destroyed me emotionally. It was psychologically debilitating. At times it seemed unbearable.
First trimester miscarriages are more common than people think. About 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, with about 80 percent of miscarriages happening in the first trimester. So if you’ve gone through this, I want you to know that you are not alone. I want you to know that you are not the only one.
My life after loss
Please don’t misunderstand, I absolutely love my life. My husband is spectacular. My friends are the best I could ever imagine. My life is filled with kindness and unconditional love. I had a wonderful support system during my miscarriage. And I was surrounded by friends and family on Mother’s Day. I’ve had great counselors and therapists to help me. I’m very privileged. I couldn’t handpick better people to have in my life.
But this is still a rough road to walk. It felt like when Orpheus walked to the underworld to get Eurydice… only to lose her in the end anyway.
Time has passed. The baby I was pregnant with would have been born by now. And that’s a tough thing to think about. We will always love the baby we lost. They will be a part of our family forever.
Closer to now
More friends got pregnant. Other friends got new jobs or promotions. Everyone’s lives were still moving forward. And I’d officially taken a step backwards. And I was 34.
After a miscarriage, you can’t immediately try again. You have to wait. Your body has to go through a lot of changes. So I was back to waiting again.
It was a lot of doctor’s appointments, with a lot of tests to make sure I was ready to try again. Finally, when I was, we started the entire process over. Seven months passed with no luck.
We started going to fertility specialists. We formulated a plan to try Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) more commonly known as artificial insemination. This process also takes a lot of waiting.
A lot of people might ask, “why didn’t y’all try IUI sooner?” Well, I have autism and frankly I was scared to take hormones. We weren’t sure how good it would be for my mental health. I’m already a very emotional person. I don’t feel and communicate my emotions the way most people do. But with the help of a great fertility specialists and mental health counselor we started the process…
A runaway train filled with emotions
I started taking hormones. Y’all, it was a disaster. I was not prepared for how much it would alter me. On the first day I accidentally hit a friend’s mailbox with my car. On the third day I got in a heated one-sided argument with my best friend. It was a mess. I was a mess. I was so emotional and upset that I almost drove myself to the hospital to be admitted. But my support system closed ranks and took care of me. They kept me safe and kept me sane.
After a month of hormones pills, hormone shots, awkward medical tests, and painful artificial insemination, it was finally time to take a pregnancy test!!!! Unfortunately, we didn’t get pregnant after our first round of IUI.
So we started the second round of IUI. Except this time we were better prepared to handle my mental health in a healthy way.
This is where we are now. At the end of IUI round two. Looking ahead to what round three might be like. And trying to decide how many more rounds and tests I can take before I’m completely defeated.
Sometimes I feel empty, lost, and pointless. But mostly, I still feel hopeful.
The road ahead
We’re gonna keep trying. We have more rounds of IUI planned, with IVF planned after that. We’re also discussing other options; adoption and fostering, which could be spectacular.
I woke up this morning feeling heavy, I needed to get this off my chest. So I grabbed my iPad and started typing. I didn’t know what this was gonna become. I haven’t been blogging much lately. My mind has been stuck on pregnancy and I haven’t felt like writing, but today I needed to. I’m not treating this like a scholarly work. I’m not combing through it to look for typos. I’m not improving on my statements. I’m simply gonna let my heart flow, then share it. Because we all need to be more honest with each other. Life is tough. But there is hope.
Sincerely, Elizabeth Banks — Uncustomary Housewife
Mental Health Resources Crisis Text Line The Crisis Text Line is free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. United States and Canada: Text HOME to 741741 United Kingdom: Text HOME to 85258 Ireland: Text HOME to 50808 Web: http://www.crisistextline.org National Suicide Prevention Lifeline If you or someone you know is in crisis, whether they are considering suicide or not, please call the toll-free Lifeline to speak with a trained Crisis Counselor 24/7. Call: 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) Web: suicidepreventionlifeline.org Uncustomary Housewife Mental Health Directory In this blog post you’ll find two lists; a list of Crisis and Help Lines and a list of Supportive Communities. Web: Uncustomary Housewife Mental Health Directory
Wishing you all the best with your journey.
Elizabeth your story is beautifully written and so heartfelt. Thank you for sharing. I pray 🙏 you will find your chosen path and it will bring you much joy and sense of fulfillment. You and Parker will make wonderful parents someday. Never give up, there is someone out there for you
I wish you all the very best for your journey. I could relate with what you are going through as I am going through a similar situation myself. God bless you with courage.
Your story is shared by many even my nephew and his wife. They have two kids now. A beautiful daughter and handsome baby boy who by the way was born with Down syndrome but he is wonderful. You went to high school with his dad.
The childbearing years have times of sorry. I had mine. Thank you for sharing this part of your journey. Jesus, bless Elizabeth’s womb with life. Amen
I accidentally found your blog, and your situation touched me, and felt familiar. Your story is so similar to a friend’s story from some years ago – she’s a total gamer nerd, a fantastic singer, on the spectrum, and a hilarious, complicated goofball. When I first met her she desperately wanted to start her family. She’d experienced a hard miscarriage in her first year of marriage and was determined to push on as he felt she was meant to be a Mom. After two more years and IVF she was pregnant again – yay, right? A few months later her body rebelled, she was devastated. You know the awful feelings involved.
Other stuff happened with family and work and she stopped trying to get pregnant, figuring they’d adopt when things settled down, when suddenly BAM, pregnant. I think she was scared to celebrate, she only told a few people at first, kinda giddy but nervous. Then she was into her second trimester, people started to notice changes and eventually she let people know. A few more months and she gave birth to a crazy little boy (now one of the smartest kids I’ve ever known). She was happy to be his Mom and showered him with attention – one child was totally fine with her. But then one day she started throwing up…you get it, she was pregnant again, this time a girl.
Several years and one more child later, her family is complete. She has a house full of laughter, the kids know every detail about Star Wars there is to know, they’re all total nerds, in the best way. She’s just gone back to school part time to give herself a break from all the Mom time, and her three kids – a boy, a girl, and non-binary youngest – are fantastically brilliant, fun kids. (Also, she was 34 when she had her first child, so anyone who tells you you’re getting on in age should maybe bite their tongue.)
This is her story, but it’s not uncommon. Sometimes bodies have their own timeline that doesn’t line up with our plans. As well, sometimes the little goofballs who will come into our lives might come another way – several friends have chosen to adopt and will tell you there is nothing ‘missing’ in their experience, it’s just a different path to the same destination. Consider letting yourself be open to that possibility at some point – if nothing else it might help you take some of the pressure off yourself.
I’m sure you’ll have your wonderful house full of kids, whichever path it takes to get there. And, please remember that there are no ‘steps backwards’ in this journey to parenthood. Everything you experience is part of the process towards helping you become the great Mom you will be, so in a few decades you’ll have wise words when your children are wanting to build their families.
I wish you all the best, and look forward to seeing your future adventures.
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This is the first time I have read your blog. I have always meant to but never seemed to take the time. You are so inspiring on mental health and sharing your thoughts. No one understands what another person is going through.
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