22 Mar I am enough from Jenna Hales
I’m just like you, I’ve had defining moments in my life; my brother dying when I was 6, or my parents divorce when I was 15, or getting divorced myself when I was 30. There were also positive experiences that helped define who I am, but isn’t it funny how it’s the tough ones that really stick with us? Of all the things I’ve experienced, the one that truly brought me to my knees was infertility.
Like so many women I had a plan…marry my high school sweet heart…have my first baby at 27…have my second baby at 30…live happily ever after. When I woke up 6 months through my thirtieth year with a marriage that was ending and no children in sight I realized, someone obviously didn’t get the memo. My biological clock kicked in with a vengeance when I was 27 but my husband was adamant he wasn’t ready, so we waited another year and a half before taking the plunge into the world of “trying”. I thought “no sweat, I’m only 28 we’ll get pregnant in no time”. Month after month I was let down as I saw yet another glaring red line shouting “no” from the tiny window of the pregnancy test stick. What started out as something I was excited about turned into something that changed me forever.
My parents always taught me if I worked hard and put my mind to it, I could accomplish anything. When it came to getting pregnant, I took that concept to a whole new level, I was convinced if I just tried harder, ate better, followed the right guidelines it would happen. I obsessed about everything, and I mean everything. I tried all kinds of diets – no sugar, no wheat, no dairy. I worried about if I was exercising too much or too little. Should I take that yoga class or would it be a bad time in my cycle and keep the egg from implanting? It was craziness, everything in my mind related back to getting pregnant. I imposed so many rules on my life that I completely lost track of myself. It was the first time I felt truly desperate. I got to the point of getting emotional just seeing a pregnant woman. It felt so unfair. I was a good person, wasn’t I? What had I done to deserve this? Wasn’t pregnancy my birthright as a woman? Tests were done with no answers, we had “unexplained infertility”…and then my marriage ended. Just like that, my dream of becoming a mom went out the door with my wayward husband. I cried and shook my fists at the universe and wondered “why me?” and then I picked myself up, figured out who the hell I was without him and started a new life on my own.
It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but I realized: I am strong, I am smart, I am creative and then I fell in love again. This time with a man who was just as eager to be a parent as I was. I was much more cautious when diving into the pool of those who “try” the second time around. The great part was now I had a buddy to help navigate the murky waters and it’s always easier jumping into the deep end when you know you have someone there ready to pull you up if you need help catching your breath. I expected to be disappointed although I secretly thought; “I just wasn’t with the right person before, now that I am with my true partner surely we’ll get pregnant right away” but months turned to years and there was still no baby. I had promised myself I wasn’t going to go back to being that crazy lady who obsessed about every little thing. I wasn’t going to give my life over to the infertility roller coaster like I had before. Overall I did pretty well, but despite my best efforts, under the surface something was happening. Little by little, I started doubting myself. With every month that past I began thinking, “if I can’t get pregnant, how can I ever realize the other dreams I’m reaching for?” I felt like I was letting myself down. Obviously I was doing something wrong because I was trying so hard, I had never tried so hard in my life, and yet I still wasn’t able to accomplish my goal. I finally came to the realization that sometimes it doesn’t matter how much we try, some things are just out of our control.
My story doesn’t end with me getting pregnant or uncovering the mysteries of the universe, because I didn’t – on either count. I also didn’t give up. I realized although I was changed, I had been given this wonderful new perspective, one which allowed me to open my heart to ideas I may have never considered before. Going through hard times made me so much more grateful for the blessings I have received. I recognize that some of the joys in life are hard earned and because of that all the sweeter in their arrival. It is thanks to this opening in my heart that I recently became a mom through the beautiful gift of open adoption. It’s true, some things in life change you and there is no going back. I am changed. My days of struggling with infertility will always be with me, but becoming a mom has allowed me to connect with the truth. And the truth is that love perseveres. Even in the places where there seems to be no light, if you are willing to open your heart even just a tiny bit, you will find your way out of the darkness. I still have days where I doubt myself, I think I always will, but I feel I have a richer and more fulfilling life because of the experiences I’ve had. And just like you, I am enough.
About Jenna Hales
Jenna Hales is an artist, graphic designer, wife and new mother to her son through the miracle of open adoption. She enjoys sharing her life and creative process on her blog. You can also find her selling her creative wares at her etsy shop. She is in the very beginning stages of writing a book about her experience of infertility and open adoption; living into the dream that her story will bring hope to others and help them see that they are never going it alone. You can email her here, she would love to hear from you!