Infertility (And Other Words We Don’t Say in Public)

Girl sleepeng in her bed

There’s an empty bed in the room next to mine. I have no idea if it and all its child accouterment should be left in place. The bed’s always been empty. It wasn’t meant to be, at least not by me.

We’re in the middle of our third attempt to fill that bed. So, I guess there’s a chance it’s still meant to be filled by the Filler. I keep looking directly at Him, my eyes and ears poised to get information (picture Dumbo with laser beam eyes trying to slice open the Master Plan for a peek). Time will tell. But time has let me down, so I keep my eyes squarely off of her, refusing her attempts to discourage.

Attempt 1: We tried to get pregnant for twelve years. Because of my extensive gynecological issues (that I’ll spare you the joy of reading about in detail, you’re welcome), my body said, “No thanks. I can’t help you, kid” (no pun intended). Mourn the loss. Let it go.

Attempt 2: Seven years into infertility, on April 12, 2010, we sent our dossier (and a few months’ salary) overseas to China to adopt a girl (or twins)–a culmination of nine months of paperwork stacked nine inches tall. It appeared at that time to be a two or three year wait. From what we see now, based on the speed China is(n’t) fulfilling adoption requests, it’ll be about another decade before we even begin to start maybe getting close to slowly approaching the middle of the list. Not likely to be much good to a small daughter or two after we’re deceased, we figure this one is a non-starter. Mourn the loss. Let it go.

Attempt 3: We completed months of foster-to-adopt paperwork and training in January of this year. Just recently, my world appeared to crumble from the foundation in a way I probably should’ve seen coming but didn’t (and that I’m not prepared to talk about today). We haven’t yet gotten a call from the foster system about a child who needs a home. However, even if we get the call, I may or may not get to say yes at this moment. I hope a moment very soon would grant permission–the very right moment that provides the very right child very much what he or she needs. But the moment I’m living in right now may not allow it.

It seems like a waste most days, the empty bed. Granted, my life isn’t the calmest. My body isn’t always the easiest. I’m not the most talented parent of all time. I’ve got no monopoly on the ability to love or know if I’m giving the one (precious, beautiful, amazing) child we’ve been able to adopt the best of the best for his growth, character, development and happiness. But an empty bed resting next to my open heart still feels like a waste–waste of time while a child suffers, waste of love that’s best given away, waste of willingness to try to make a child’s wrong situation right again.

I imagine–or more than that, read about in real reality–kids who are starved, beaten, locked in closets, neglected as mom and dad seek their next high, trafficked (I can’t even), etc, etc and endless, heartbreaking etc. I make absolutely no moral judgment, truly: although I want them to get help and keep their children for the children’s sake if possible, I’m giving these adults very little thought. Simply, if and when adults won’t change for a child, I want that child to change hands. Period. And I’ve got hands.

I can’t take all the hurting little ones. (I wish I was complaining about twenty empty beds and had it in me to fill them all.) But could my heart and home’s capacity easily stretch just one person bigger for an innocent who needs their life’s madness stopped, needs human decency, food and a safe place to lay down their valuable, darling head with kisses in warmth each night? Yes. It has to be yes, doesn’t it? I daily look at one lifeless, cold bed and really am not so much complaining as mourning. And I’m not sure if I’m mourning for the child or for me or both.

I’m not unusually special, but I’d lay down a lot to make a suffering little one feel that they are. I stand ready inside. At least I think I know what ready means. And I pray intensely that any of my external circumstances that challenge or outright refuse readiness are redeemable so that I can stand fully prepared to stop one child’s world from completely collapsing by holding out a safety net.

Is this empty bed my fault? Could I have tried or pushed harder, earlier? Could I have played the game smarter, more cleverly? Or am I on the exact track at the exact right time to the exact youngster with the exact need that I, even in my limited human capacity, have the exact right makeup and resources to meet? Or is the empty bed meant to stay empty, and am I meant to live with a full heart anyway? I can see either future with almost perfect clarity.

So, time will have her say at least a little longer, deferring and taunting, like she so often expertly does while we only see a partial picture as life unfolds. I don’t know yet what’s coming (join the club, I know, right?), and the reigns of control aren’t willing to be grabbed on this one. Sometimes I think I know the answer in that deep-seated place that knows what will come but can’t confirm it until it happens. And other times I feel absolutely and thoroughly clueless.

But no matter what the outcome, what I’ve learned from the trial and error of trying to fill that bed is that there are plenty of purposes and callings in life. Motherhood isn’t the be-all and end-all of fulfillment, however tremendously important the job. There are many important jobs to do and endless things to enjoy. And some of the most meaningful engagements seem to come by surprise rather than forethought and creation. So, I’m certain that life will be full, one way or another–bed full or bed empty.

But if I was a bettin’ girl (and I almost am right here, right now about this), I’d bet the ranch that the Filler has written the name of one strong, resilient little survivor on one bed sitting in one extra room in my house and placed a calling on one stubborn mommy to risk one more heartbreaking hunt.

With Hope and Heart in Hand,


Presented by Writers Block Prose, LLC

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