When I was younger, it wasn't a big beautiful wedding that I dreamed of- it was the thought of being a mother that had me in happy reverie. Yet perhaps unexpectedly, establishing a career I'm truly happy in has taken precedence. And as terribly broody as I am surrounded by little ones of every dimension at work - I know it's not the right time for me. Not for forever, just for right now.
My brother and a few friends have not so subtly hinted that I should consider freezing my eggs. (They're fun people really).
So... I've wanted to do this sort of post for a little while for so many reasons. Not to be divisive, or cause comment/complaint but to share a voice that echoes true, a voice that gives courage to share if needs be, a voice that hopefully finds some way to comfort. Because when it comes to the topic of having children, there is a lot of advice out there about 'what should be', 'what needs to be' and often forgotten in the process is the story of 'what actually is'.
Which is happiness, contentment and joy of exponential nature -but also for so many others- sadness, frustration, confusion and hurt of exponential nature. There is also a story, a voice where having a child is intensely personal and may not be right or may not happen for a plethora of reasons.
Please note dear reader: there is an immense amount of grace and triumph in all of these stories.
I would be lying to you if I said that I wasn't worried about leaving trying for children to my mid-thirties or later (I am nervous) but I take great comfort in knowing that I have women around me who are so generously open, honest and forthcoming about their own journeys. And this week, I am so incredibly honoured to be sharing a few here with you here :
Shaili: Here’s what I thought I wanted in my early twenties: Spontaneity. Unpredictability. A healthy dose of chaos. This is what I’ve accepted about myself in my thirties: A growing desire for order. Total predictability. Zero surprises.
When I signed up for the decade-long journey of becoming a physician, I shifted into neutral and followed the predictable track of undergrad, medical school, residency, job. I knew exactly what I’d be doing two, five, seven years into the future.
When my husband and I decided it was time to start a family, my approach was no different: We would start trying at Point A so that I would be pregnant by Point B, have the baby at Point C, be on maternity leave until Point D, just in time to start a new job at Point E —all perfectly timed to match my husband’s career timeline.
And shockingly, with the aid of an ovulation kit (by now the presence of an ovulation kit in my story should come as no surprise), I was pregnant by Point B, just as planned. I felt relieved, knowing that getting to that point is tumultuous for so many. With a quiet excitement, I envisioned myself as a mother, and my husband as a father, and Saturday mornings in our kitchen with our little person, making pancakes and drinking coffee and singing whatever kid-friendly songs would become the new soundtrack of our lives.
We didn’t make it to Point C. At 13 weeks pregnant, on the day we planned to share our news with friends and family, we sat in a dark room with an ultrasound tech and watched the flickering heart of a very abnormal fetus. Our hearts sank as the test continued and our OB informed us that the baby’s birth defects were too severe and incompatible with life.
Three days later, I was no longer pregnant. I felt naive for not having considered this as a possibility, for foolishly believing I had so much control over my life, let alone another. I was shocked by the devastation of losing something that never really was, and by how overwhelming that devastation could be. And I felt guilty, realizing that until then, I hadn’t understood or sympathized wholeheartedly with women who struggle with infertility, miscarriage, or the decision to terminate a pregnancy.
My story ends (or rather, begins) on a happy note. I don’t take that for granted. I took some very necessary time off from work. I cried a lot. I stayed in bed for hours on end. I went home to Michigan and let my parents nurture me with Indian soul food and wine. I relied so heavily on my husband, who - well - just thank goodness for him. I shared my story with my friends and sisters and anyone who would listen because I knew that if I didn’t, I would explode. And maybe in doing so, in releasing the pain to the world so that I didn’t have to weather it alone, I made space for a new life inside me.
That new life is Jonah. He is seven months old now and when he looks up at me with his big brown eyes and gummy smile, I am alive. I don’t believe that our loss happened for a reason and I would be lying if I said that I don’t think about my first pregnancy every day, even if just for a split second. But it makes me so grateful for our sweet boy, and hopeful for the women who wait their turn.
It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a village to even get to that point, or to have to acknowledge that it just might not ever happen. The women in my life are either mothers, choosing not to be mothers, struggling to become mothers, or accepting the fact that they may not be mothers, at least in the capacity they once imagined. And the only way we’re all getting by —the only way we’re finding order in the chaos —is with the help of each other. We don’t have to go at it alone. Mothers need each other. Women need each other.
...Thank you beautiful, brave Shaili for allowing me to share your words here x.
ps. This series is for you mama-to-be, mama-in-wait, not even thinking about it or independent woman- wherever you may be on your journey, whatever it is that you are facing, you are not alone. Sending you an enormous amount of love xo