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Exhaling…

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Two months ago I was told by my doctor that I would never be able to have children.

But let me back up a little. Nine years ago I married the love of my life. When we first got married I thought that in a few short years we would have a house full of kids… rambunctious, adorable, smart-ass little kids just like their parents. I was wrong. After 4 years of fertility drugs, acupuncture, surgery, herbal medicine, praying, begging, and pleading, my doctor called me in June and told me that I had to give up and go on with the rest of my life. It was not going to happen.

I lost seven babies in four years. I don’t have the words to describe what that feels like. The most recent (the last straw and the reason for my doctor’s decision) was a pair of twins that I lost on May 30th. The day before my 9th wedding anniversary, just 2 months ago. I was deeply attached to my twins. I spoke to them, had my sonogram pic hanging up on my bedroom wall, wrote to them, made up silly nicknames for them, and prayed for them incessantly. When I lost them I understood a new level of pain and heartache and I sank into a month long depression. I felt worthless and broken. I fought with my faith and a Creator who I couldn’t understand. I felt like a burden on my husband and a disappointment to my family.

But I got through it. I have hard days, but I feel like myself again. A new self. A self that has accepted that I will never be like most women. I will never experience the joy (and pain) of childbirth. I will never get the pleasure of looking at a tiny reflection of my husband and myself and marveling at how alike we are.

I am a different person than I was 4 years ago when this long road began. Many of you who knew me before have remarked that I have changed, and you’re right I have. How could I not? I am a stronger person now. A person less focused on my personal experience in the world and more interested in our communal experience. I recognize the pain in other people in a way I didn’t before. I am more aware of how blessed I am in every other aspect of my life. To have a husband, family, and friends who rallied around me and pulled me through my darkest days. I can never say thank you enough.

I emerged with a deeper understanding of who I am. In the last 4 years I have spent more time crumpled in a chair sobbing than I care to remember and all that led to an invaluable journey of self-discovery. I care less what other people think of me (although I probably still care too much), and more about what I do with the life I have been given while I’m on this earth.  I plan for the future less because I have learned the hard way that to think you are in control is an illusion. Call it fate, destiny, random luck.. whatever it is, it is. And I can’t change it.

So why am I telling you all this? Three reasons. One; I do not like keeping secrets- they weigh on me- and this has started to feel like a secret. I just need to get it out so I can put it behind me. Two; I’d like to make a request to the general public… Please, stop asking people when they are going to have a baby! If a woman in her 30’s is married or in a committed relationship and does not have children, there is a reason! It is not something she simply forgot to do. People literally began asking my husband and I on our wedding day and still have not stopped. It puts me in an awkward position because I don’t want to be evasive, but I also don’t want to get into a deeply personal conversation at an inappropriate time. Unless a woman is your daughter or sister or very best friend, it is Never appropriate to ask that question! And three; I wasn’t one of those strong women who was able to share her experience while she was going through it. I relied on many of those strong women though- their blogs and articles and books helped me immensely. I guess I feel like I need to try and pay that forward a little bit. Let some woman who is in the middle of her darkest days know that I have been there and I survived. And she will too.

Jessica Alfreds is a Chef, Caterer, and Event Planner based in New York City. She is currently working on her first cookbook, teaching herself how to sew, and attempting to live a purposeful life. Jessica is a 3rd generation New Yorker and currently resides in the East Village. Visit jessicaalfreds.com.

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13 Responses to “Exhaling…”

  1. Great human interest blog. You just kept it so real. Very admirable. I think God rewards those who handle adversity well and find joy and triumph on alternative paths. I am sure there are other ways for you to find the fulfilment you were looking for in childbirth. Be creative and reenergized.

    If you can’t run, swim. If you can’t paint, draw. If you can’t live in Hawaii, then move to Key West. It’s amazing how we can get to similar places on totally different roads.

    God bless. I am sure soon you will find twice the joy you thought you were missing out on. If not, your exceptional humility will carry you through.

  2. thank you so very much for the beautiful words, i really appreciate that :) thanks for reading..

  3. Weird perhaps that it should be two dudes leaving comments, but I also commend you on this piece.

  4. lol… yes unexpected i would have to say but you guys are awesome… it is in a way more powerful getting support from men… thank you so much :)

  5. I’ll third the sentiment. Good to see this post. For similar reasons, people shouldn’t ask parents when they’re having another child, why don’t they have another one, how come they only had one, etc.

  6. I don’t mean to suggest that it’s the same as you have experienced, just that people don’t think before they ask personal questions that are sometimes better left unasked.

  7. Different situation, but I’ve encountered a similar dynamic as Scott is talking about:

    http://whenfallsthecoliseum.com/2011/02/11/no-shes-not-a-mail-order-bride-but-youre-a-bleep-hole-for-asking/

  8. Totally understand what you guys mean! Yeah people definitely ask questions sometimes that leave me scratching my head as to why they would think that was a good question! I guess we all put our foot in our mouths sometimes so i try not to be overly sensitive about it :)

  9. Its amazing to me that this blog resonated with the men! you never know who will relate to you! :)

  10. I am divorced and people make a LOT of assumptions about a single woman in her 40s. Nothing at all to do with your post (which I loved, and can feel your pain, catharsis, and healing, all rolled into one well-written piece) but more to do with the thread. ;)

    All the best to you as you find the next big, wonderful thing to focus on in your life. You gave it your absolute best shot. Life has a way of changing course on you, even when you give something your all. Still, you did all you could. Commendable!! I wish the next adventure a successful, happy, and fulfilling one! xo

  11. thank you so much and I so appreciate the compliments :) xo best to you as well :)

  12. Jessica – your honesty and courage are inspiring. Too often women feel like they are the only ones struggling through life-changing situations like these. Knowing other people have jumped (or dragged themselves over) similar hurdles as their own – and managed to become stronger for it – is often the thing that helps us the most. To see there is sunshine once you get past the darkness is often the best encouragement you can give to others going through difficult times. And so while you may “not have been one of the strongest women” while you were going through – you certainly have proven your strength here – for others to now benefit from.
    I wish you only good things in life and new – amazing – adventures ahead. xoxo

  13. thank you so much Amy :) Been a tough journey (still is) but I’m surviving so far! Really appreciate your words xoxo!

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