It feels unfair of me to even write this. I feel guilty because I'm one of the lucky ones. Each word I write stings... Because I know.
I know what it feels like.
I know what it is like to have a physical pain from yearning. Your womb aches to be filled. It actually hurts to see a baby.
I know what it is like to force a smile for everyone around you. I know you are genuinely happy for friends, family—even strangers—but you are also angry and hurt and jealous and scared.
I know what it is like to skip baby showers because you just can't handle it. It hurts too bad.
I know what it is like to change which checkout aisle you are in at the grocery store because the baby in the buggy ahead of you makes your eyes well up with tears.
I know what it is like to collect and hide baby books and Easter baskets in the closet, in the hopes that someday you will have a little one to give them to.
I know what it is like to be “the crazy lady" who dresses her dog up in little lacy dresses because you just need an outlet. (My “fur baby" had no idea she was actually a dog. She even had a Pack-N-Play crib.)
"I know what it is like to lay in bed at night trying to imagine what a baby feels like in your tummy. Imagining kicks. Imagining fullness. It feels almost real."
I know what it is like going to the doctor for tests and coming back with no real answers.
I know what it is like taking a prenatal vitamin every single day for year after year. Every morning when you swallow that pill, you swallow your fear and hope again.
I know what it is like to look at your partner, whom you love dearly, with suspicion and frustration.
I know what it is like to pee on ovulation tests every day. Stacking them up on the back of the toilet trying to make sense of the lines.
I know what it is like to be completely sick on Clomid. The hormones, the side effects. Month after month.
I know what it is like to hope the side effects of this drug rewards you with twins or triplets. Or one. One would be good, too.
"I know what it is like to stay up late scouring the web for solutions and tips. I have a private Pinterest Board full of them—and I tried them all."
I know what it is like to add Maca Root to everything you eat and drink. I've even slipped it into his food, too.
I know what it is like to wake up and do Fertility Yoga, in the hopes that the right organs were worked out.
I know what it is like to wait until your partner falls asleep and give yourself a Fertility Massage. Desperately hoping that your woman-parts are loosened.
I know what it is like for “love making" to start feeling like a stressful chore.
I know what it is like to stack pillows under your bum and legs as you lay there for 30 minutes, hoping that it helps—even though you know the studies say it doesn't. You do it anyway.
I know what it is like to pray for a baby. I would pray to anyone. God; Goddess. Anyone, anything: Hear my plea.
I know what it is like to dodge the questions and statements like, “So when are you two going to try for a baby?" I know what it's like to try to not to slap someone or to break down into a puddle of painful tears every time this jab occurs.
I know what it is like to wince when people attempt to kindly suggest adoption as if you have never thought about it.
I know you feel violent when a mom complains about their children to you or when you read stories about and child neglect. “Why do these ungrateful women get children and I don't?" you wonder with rage.
I know what it is like to feel like you can't talk about this. I know you feel alone.
I know what it is like to feel those twinges of cramps and hope with all your might that it is “implantation." You're a few days late. There's a chance….
I know what it is like to be crushed when you see that first spot of blood on your panties. Devastatingly crushed. Again and again and again. Month after month. Year after year.
I know what it is like to have to lock yourself up in the bathroom and have a good wailing and sobbing cry, as you numbly fetch your feminine hygiene items once again.
I know women who have exhausted their funds with rounds of IVF. I know their symptoms are awful. I know they experience worse hormonal problems than most pregnant women do. I know they have buckets of needles. And not always with a baby to reward them for their pain at the end of it.
I know women who yearn for a baby, but life didn't line up for them “in time." Their clock ran out.
I know women who don't experience this painful, hopeful waiting game. They know up front that there will never be a chance of a baby. Their body just won't do it.
I painted the Goddess Danu in 2015—the goddess of fertility and abundance. I still would not conceive until 2016.
The TTC journey is emotionally exhausting. Physically exhausting. It is so hard to remain hopeful. It is even harder to accept that this is it.
Like pregnancy loss, “infertility" is something that exists in myriad of forms for myriad of reasons. Sometimes, as in my case, it is a struggle for years—but with a happy ending. Sometimes, it is a struggle forever.
I'm writing this because I want you to know that there are many women with babies who know.
When you get in line behind me at the grocery store checkout aisle, I can see the pain in your eyes. If you choose to change aisles, I understand. If you can't come to my baby shower, I understand. If you need to hide my social media posts, I understand. I've been there.
My landlord brought her best friend over a few weeks ago unannounced. “I hope you don't mind," she said awkwardly. “My friend… She just… Loves babies." Her friend was in her fifties.
“Of course!" I replied as I saw the look in her friend's eyes on my doorstep. We never discussed why, but I could see absolutely everything in her eyes. I knew.
I happily gave her my baby that I had spent years crying and yearning for. I knew she had done the same. It was all I could do not to cry, watching her babble to my girl, sitting sweetly on her knee. She may not have known how hard I struggled for this baby, but I knew hers.
So I'm writing this to let you know—I know. And you are not alone.
This article originally appeared on the St. Augustine Moms Blog.