The Bitter Irony – Guest Post by Lizzi of Considerings

For the longest time, I was adamant that I didn’t want to be a mother. I had a horrible, tough childhood, subjected to victimization in a home ruled by depression, lies and the idol of marriage. Marriage was something which God had joined together, and no man, or woman, or child, should EVER try (or hope) to tear it asunder. Divorce was the vilest dirty word. And so, in our ways, for 12 years, my sister and I were daily sacrifices on the altar of that idol.

I determined that I would NEVER have children, because my experience of being parented was so hurtful, so poor (not in *all* ways, but in many) and so confusing, that I genuinely thought I would have nothing to give a child. In addition to which, LOOK at what parenting turned you INTO! Because with childish egocentricity (emphasized by the insistent message that I was a burden; something to be put up with and dealt with – never someone to be cherished or enjoyed) I assumed that somehow, part of the responsibility for that toxic home lay with my sister and I. I mean, it MUST, right? We were there, after all, being demanding and requiring input and attention, and getting things wrong and mucking things up and being in the way…some of the blame must be apportioned to us. And I never wanted a child of mine to feel that way for turning me into such a horrible person, and for ruining my home.
But I got a job working with children and gradually my heart unfroze. I realized the full extent of how horribly wrong my frame of reference for family life was, and on the day my sister announced her first pregnancy, I cried bitter tears of regret, because as the older sibling, surely it was supposed to be my turn first?

Yet marriage and children (I know not everyone feels the need to tie any knots before getting knocked up, but as a committed Christian, I wasn’t prepared to do it any other way. Which makes my story that much harder, I’ll admit) was not forthcoming. So I waited until I found the chap who had a touch of destiny about him. The first time we met, my gut told me “He’d be a good husband and a good father.” As I got to know him, I could see myself growing old and content with him by my side. And when he proposed, once I got over the surprise, I didn’t have a second thought about saying a joyful “Yes!”

If I’d known, would I have done things differently? If he’d known, would he?

You see, my dear Husby turned out to be sick. Sicker than either of us realized or anticipated or would fully know until three years down the line, when we received the official word that there’s no point trying for a baby anymore, because we will never be able to conceive naturally. We will (hopefully) be offered one shot at fertility treatment. And then we’re cast loose to figure out how to live our lives.
And in the meantime, to make matters worse, our marriage has been plagued by this sickness and its associated challenges, for its entirety. Three years of absolute hell; of suddenly having to manage a spouse who had succumbed to that dread beast, depression. Who often didn’t want to be alive by the end of the day. Who claimed he loved me, but rejected me on several very intimate and very painful levels, as a result of seeing the world through the dark cloud of mental ill-health.
His sickness also pervaded to other parts of his body, resulting in two miscarriages for us – the bitterest pills to swallow, that our first two children – our Neverborns – might be our only two. And each time I allow myself to think about that for too long, it absolutely devastates me and leaves me bereft.

In the time since, the gates have slammed down, one by one, on our options for parenthood. We can’t foster or adopt, as the depression has us (rightly) disqualified from their eligibility criteria. We can’t afford private fertility treatment.  And we have some of Husby’s sperm frozen, so why would we waste our one shot on donor sperm?
This is our final chance to realize our fragile, shaky, precious dreams of becoming parents to a live child, and it sucks beyond belief to know that the success rate for the treatment we might get – the BEST treatment – stands at 16%.

The irony of those miscarriages is strong. And each month when crushing disappointment claws at my heart as I realize that no, I’m not pregnant. Again. It is only balanced by the knowledge that at least I’m not LOSING another baby. Because there is no more profoundly painful feeling I have ever encountered than knowing that my body – designed to protect and nurture and grow – had been unable to hang onto my child. Or the knowledge that each of my tiny babies were defective, and were never going to grow beyond the point they reached, and so just gave up; zipped up wrong – abominations to be disposed of and expelled.

No pain EVER equalled this before.

And so I face life as an Invisible Mom – potentially forever. No one will see my children. I’ll never get to hold them close or smell their hair or kiss their scraped knees better. I’ll never shout at them or get kicked in the face by them, or embarrassed in restaurants by their behaviour, or have my heart broken when theirs is.
I’ll get to sleep in on the weekends. To do precisely as I want, when I want. With two incomes, I’ll be able to buy myself nice things, and enjoy them without risking the ruin of little fingers. I’ll be able to drink without worrying that I might need to be sober if one of the kids had an emergency. I won’t have to pay out for schooling fees or worry about bullies. My life will be my own.

And I’d trade it in a second.


Lizzi is a deep thinker, truth-teller and seeker of good things. She writes her thoughts on her blog Considerings. You can also find her on Facebook at her Considerings page as well as on the group Invisible Moms Club.

23 thoughts on “The Bitter Irony – Guest Post by Lizzi of Considerings

  1. Gorgeous and heartbreaking writing as always, Lizzi. I still have lots of hope for you – as you know. Sending huge huge hugs.

    • Thanks. I’m not sure there *are* ‘right things’ to say about this one. It’s one of those horrible, awkward ‘would rather brush it under the carpet and pretend it’s not happening’ ones. Which is (partly) why I wrote it.

  2. Oh, Lizzi. My heart aches for you so deeply. I wish I could magically create a baby and send it across the pond to you. You would be such am amazing mother and I’m devastated for you. There’s no sugar coating the harsh reality, I’m afraid. But with that said, you bring many other talents – besides being a mother – to to the world. Embrace those things that make you shine and that allow you to feel whole. Try to not focus on the darkness. I admire your honesty and your bravery for writing this piece.

    • Thank you for your sensible advice. I’ll try to do that. Or, I’ll try to do that SOON. I’m swamped by this, this week. Next week I hope will be different. And the week after that. But at the moment it’s hanging over my head like a tilting boulder. I’ll come back from this.

    • I just have tears and hollowness and no hope at all. Except a stubborn, tiny shred I can’t get rid of, and would find easier if I could, because it’s so hard to have – like a splinter in my heart – it won’t leave me alone to get past this.

      Keep holding that hope. It burns me.

    • The words matter, because through them, at least others can connect. This pain would be so much harder muted and stifled by lack of description, so it does help to write it out of me. Thank you for reminding me.

  3. Words seem inadequate. I can only begin to try to imagine what you must be feeling, and I suspect I’m many, many miles away from getting close.

    I found it disappointing to hear that your partner’s mental health issues automatically excludes you from adopting/fostering. I could understand a criminal record or history of violence leading to exclusion but not a mental health problem per se?

    • They need such a stable home for the kids. It’s absolutely vital. In this, I 100% agree with them. It’s too risky to gamble on mental health issues and if the placement breaks down it’s FAR too damaging for that child. You see, adoption isn’t about making people parents – it’s about finding a secure, stable, forever home for those traumatised, hurting children. They deserve that, at least, after such a rough start.

      • I see where you’re coming from, but I’ve always believed the fundamental requirement for a child is parents who love them. Of course, there is never any 100% certainty that a home will always be stable – relationship break-up, alcohol misuse,financial pressures, a visit from a wicked uncle (to name just a few) can arise in any family and trigger instability. I believe that people with mental health problems are discriminated against in many ways in our society, and negative assumptions around parenting is one example.

      • Can’t reply to you below, Gary. I get where you’re coming from, but Social Services are SO hard pressed to even manage all the adoptions they do, they want the surefirest family for kids to go to – they don’t have the resources to take risks.

  4. This may seem inappropriate but I do not understand why–if you’re fertile–you only have one chance. If it is your husband’s illness please consider donor sperm! You will have lots of chances then.

    Also, not all adopted children are traumatized. But yes, they do all need stable homes.

    • Because he doesn’t want to use donor sperm.

      And yes – they are – they’ve started life with hugely impacting, highly significant losses either in the early days, or through abusive homes and the need to be taken from their bio family in order to protect them. They need hugely safe, stable homes where the adults can employ theraputic parenting to support them.

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