Said to me from my brown leather couch in my sun-drenched office,

I can’t even go to church.

Written in a social media post,

I can’t go to the baby shower.

Shared in a blog post,

I can’t believe she’s pregnant…again.

From my own mouth,

They are everywhere.

In the journey of infertility these are all statements we probably have said out loud or to ourselves. I hear them in my office all the time. I also have no doubt I said them to myself in the midst of our trudge through hell a few years ago.

Only now, a few years into Ever Upward and working with clients through and after this journey, are they the phrases that make me the saddest.

When we are fighting, what at times feels like a losing battle, to have babies we often find being around children too difficult. We find it so difficult that many of us cut them completely out of our lives.

We cut out the very thing we are fighting so hard for.

But, this isn’t the saddest part.

When we cut out all the children from our lives, we also shame, blame and deny, the mother we are so desperately trying or wanted to be.

We do this out of self-protection. It is natural and I suppose works decently for most of us. But I am finding and discovering that perhaps it is really only help for the most part because it is avoidance and numbing.

Both of which are short lived and not part of this wholehearted life.

Because the fact is, there is no way around this pain.

Despite our best efforts to numb and avoid, we can’t. We simply, albeit not easily, must feel it, feel it all, move through it and find our ways of moving forward into our sacred truths.

Admittedly I’ve been on my own struggle bus of darkness this December. The other night when I was seeking support from my friend Sam I realized something else about the danger of numbing and denying our motherhood. The kids in my life, my chosen children, see me. They truly see me. They see me always, with curiosity and unconditional love. Many days I walk this earth feeling invisible, especially during these holidays. I don’t have kids who are excited about Santa. I don’t have every weekend booked with the Polar Express, Breakfast with Santa and basketball or soccer games. Instead, this year I am struggling like hell to even finish decorating my Christmas tree. But my chosen children, they see me. Which also means I need to be around them.

No matter where you may be in this journey of infertility and loss, hell even if it is a different, yet so much the same, journey, I want you to ask yourself: Am I avoiding and numbing from the very changingthemeaningwe-haveattachedmeans-choosingjoything I miss and want so much? 

Chances are the answer is yes.

To which, I guess, I’d like to challenge you a bit. What if choosing the joy in it is the very thing that helps us not completely lose ourselves? What if we changed the meaning we attach to it?

We can either choose to think of being around kids as the constant reminder of what we don’t have. How sad, mad and unfair that can feel. Or we can choose to love them hard, laugh with them and invest in them. Because in that love, laughter and investment we honor, not only, the mother we want to be, we also we honor the mother we are.

6 thoughts on “They See Us

  1. Susan says:

    I admire your courage and accept your challenge. Thank you for this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Susan! I know this one may not be well received… I appreciate the support. Please keep me updated! Happy Holidays!


  2. Your post rang true for me. I remember saying to myself, “I can’t believe she’s pregnant, again!”

    I am so sorry for your losses and the grief these losses have caused you! I’ve been reading your blog for sometime and feel a connection with you even though I am of a different generation.

    I still remember. It was 50+ (!!) years ago. There was no support system. There was no internet. There were no “treatments” – in fact, I don’t think Reproductive Endocrinology was an acknowledged specialty. This was ’64, ’65, ’66, etc. I cannot count the times I was asked why I wasn’t pregnant. Everyone was procreating around me. Friends, family (cousins), classmates. I was a perpetual blubbering fool. I cried for years!!

    The only solution for us was adoption. It was that or nothing. We opted for adoption. It was difficult and had many challenges. I was “lucky” and brought my first baby boy home in August of 1967 and the second in 1969.

    But the early losses and the comments about how I should deal with them are seared into my soul.

    It seems that in 2016 (nearly 2017) the infertility community should not still be suffering from comments and questions left over from the 60s.

    I just want you to know that I consider you to be a role model for many in the infertility community. Keep up the great work! But most of all, take care of yourself.

    An Avid Reader
    Suzanna Catherine


    1. Suzanna, Thank you so much these words, your bravery and encouragement. Our community definitely still has a long ways to go in regards to building empathy, staying out of comparison and educating our world on this journey. I guess that is why I fight so hard advocating. Thank you again, your message definitely helped me. Much love, Justine


  3. Elaine says:

    Dear Justine,

    When we were still trying to conceive, I was asked to be a godmother three times. I happily accepted, honoured by the requests and maybe also secrety thinking: If having kids doesn’t work out, I will at least have my godchildren.

    When the treatments failed, I was not able to enjoy these kids immediately. In the midst of grief, seeing my godchildren, nephews and nieces was hard. Very hard. Some of them I didn’t see for quite a long time. It simply took me too long to recover after a visit (it would take days, if not weeks).

    But the hope was there. I was hoping for healing. Hoping that, little by little, I would be able to see my godchildren, nieces and nephews more and more often and that it would start hurting less. I am happy to say that this is starting to come true. I went to the circus with one of my godchildren this fall. It was a very happy afternoon, even if I was exhausted afterwards. I also made three advent calendars this year and got cute pictures in return. It is lovely to be a special person for a child, even if I will never be a mother to my own biological children.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is this: it does hurt in the beginning. And self-protection is important, too. It is all about finding a good balance. I’m still not extremely close to my godchildren, but much closer than a year ago. And that’s progress.

    Thanks for the amazing work you do, Justine.

    Wishing you peace for the upcoming holidays,
    Elaine, Switzerland


    1. Elaine, You are so right, finding the balance that is right for us. We need to hold both of those truths, honor our hurt and push ourselves to find that joy. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and leave your words here. Happy holidays ❤ Justine


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