Someone made a remark to me that I can’t seem to shake.
“You’re lucky to have Brad for a husband. Like, no offense, but his relationship with you is kind of a waste, ya know? He’d be a really good dad or stepdad to children.”
I sat stunned as I replayed the words over and over again in my head, my feelings shattered. I’d really cared for the friend who said this to me which made this exchange even harder to swallow. She knew I suffered for many years with endometriosis which left me infertile and eventually needing a hysterectomy at 29—before I had the chance to have my own children.
Thank God I didn’t.
I was in an unhappy marriage then and adding children on top would have been disastrous.It’s not the “infertile” part that was hurtful. I’ve accepted it and have built a pretty fulfilled life around this card I was dealt.
Dealt; not chose.
The insinuation that I didn’t deserve a great love because of a loss—not a choice— that was the cruelest.
When Brad and I met, we had both been through the wringer. Bad relationship after bad relationship, we were both at a crossroads.I had only been divorced a month, and he was dating someone else. Bad timing. Yet, time didn’t care; we were thrown together time after time even if we both tried to avoid it—eventually leading to that first Facebook message, the exchange of phone numbers, text messages, and late night phone calls. During these conversations, I opened up about my battle with endometriosis and my hysterectomy without the pressure-filled awkward “first date” in which a couple feels each other out to see if expectations will be met. It just came up in a casual conversation with a friend about surgery. No expectations necessary. Brad quickly became my close friend and cheerleader. He made bad days better.
He listened patiently on the phone late into the night as I cried over my loneliness to which he replied,
“Stop screwing around and come be with me.” He said this to me knowing fully well we could not have biological children together.
We began a long distance relationship and after six months, I moved from Arkansas to Alabama to live with him. Soon after, we were engaged and married—all within a year. Through all of this, I had those moments when I deeply regretted not being able to have his children. Maybe “deeply regret” glosses over it too much. It tears my heart out that I can’t have his children because there needs to be more of him in the world. It reminded me of that comment: was I monopolizing his love, love big enough for a family? It’s doubt and heartbreak I suppress daily, shoving it to the back of my brain by reminding myself, even if I would have kept my uterus, I would still be infertile. It couldn’t happen anyway. I’ll say it out loud to him every now-and-then to which he always responds,
“As long as I have you, I’m fine. That’s what’s important.”
Rarely, do I have this conversation with anyone—even my own husband, so many assume I just don’t care to have children or that I don’t like children which is simply not true. I’ve just done a really good job living without it, and sometimes being around children is hard because it reminds me of what I can’t have with the man I love the most.
The comment in question twisted the knife already firmly implanted in my heart. You can’t produce children, and you don’t even deserve the love of your husband.
Brad’s reaction was exactly what I figured it would be—anger, confusion, and frustration. “Wow, wow, who are they to decide who is best for me to love. And I don’t want their kids. The only kids I want are the ones we raise together.” Of course this soothed the sting of the words, but it didn’t take away the sadness. Because this wasn’t the first time female “friends” used my infertility to invalidate me as a romantic partner.
“Like, do men even want you since you can’t have babies? Does it make it hard to find someone?” The answer to that, once and for all, is no.
Not at all.
More importantly, the right man wanted me despite all of my shortcomings—not just my inability to have children. Trust me, it’s low on the list compared to my deficiency in the domestic arts. All of this led me wonder, why do women do this to each other? To be fair, it’s not just mothers against non-mothers. It’s mothers vs mothers, non-moms against non-moms—this list goes on. We are too quick to hold each other hostage with our own shortcomings or inabilities, and too slow to offer than ever elusive “atta girl.” So, for the first time, I was forced to finally give myself validation. Low self-esteem has plagued me my entire life which always made me the first to cut myself down. For once, I had to say out loud:
I am a loving wife, with many talents and accomplishments.
I do good work.
I’m worthy of my husband’s big love because of the large amount of good I put in to the world and the big love I give in return.
I was forced to love myself and recognize my own worth, just like he does every day.
Finally, for the first time in 35 years.
From such debasement bloomed such a love, so new and requisite
It is also prudent to offer that elusive “atta girl” previously mentioned.
This is my “atta girl” to other women who find themselves in similar situations in which she is made to feel inadequate and undeserving. You are smart, beautiful, and worthy of the life you choose and the love with in it, no matter how hard the next person tried to diminish or trivialize your joy.
You deserve that joy. You deserve big love.
You are more than worthy.