Mother’s Day, 2021

I tried to be a mother for 12 years. 

In addition to the horrible feelings of grief, confusion, despair, humiliation, anger, and self-loathing…

I also felt so, so guilty, because of my ADHD. 

After a lifetime of being late, forgetting homework, not turning in papers because I couldn’t organize myself to write them, ruining clothing, dropping out of college, misplacing very important shit, wasting money, absentmindedly allowing good friendships to wither, etc…

…I was convinced that I couldn’t get or keep a pregnancy because I had FORGOTTEN something. I truly believed that this Lichtenstein print was me. It’s not that I’d forgotten because I was pursuing some big career. I’d forgotten in the way you forget your keys. 

So a big part of my healing, after more than a decade of infertility, was reminding myself of all the things I did to get and stay pregnant. The obvious things of course. Then also, multiple surgeries, countless internal exams, painful procedures, medications, sooo many needles and sonogram wands. I recently learned about something called “medical trauma.” I definitely have that—I’ve had a panic attack in front of a baffled radiologist—and it’s in large part because of the years I spent trying to get and stay pregnant. 

At the very end of the journey, after I had decided that I was FUCKING DONE, I told someone close to me that I was FUCKING DONE. This person was deeply sad for me, even distraught. “But you’re giving up your dream!” they said. 

Of course, that stung. Nobody likes to think they’re giving up a dream. Who gives up on their dreams? Not winners. 

It stung, but by that time I was already most of the way out of infertility jail. I had gotten a taste of what life could be, and I knew I was never fucking going back. On the other side of all the sorrow and regret and humiliation, my life was going on, rich and complex and painful and tender and delicious. 

So yes, I did give up on my dream. 

But in my heart, it did not feel like an abandoned project, a ripped sweater, an unwritten paper. 

In my heart, it felt like a bird released from my hand: free at last. My dream of motherhood floated up over my head. Dipped her wings, as I blew a kiss. And soared away.

In the years that followed, 

  • I started a skincare routine
  • I got a trainer
  • I repaired my relationship with food
  • I discovered coaching
  • I came to terms with my neurodiversity
  • I recommitted to a daily meditation practice
  • I connected with my spouse on new levels of clarity, vulnerability, intimacy
  • I got way better at carefully tending a few deep friendships
  • I evolved a more mature, personal spirituality
  • I optimized my sleep and started prioritizing naps
  • I figured out that all these things were practices and it was okay to suck at them sometimes.

In short, I LEARNED TO CARE FOR MYSELF. 

To cherish myself. 

You don’t often hear this kind of story about motherhood—

/I desperately tried to be a mom
/I gave up on it
/It felt like freedom
/And I lived happily ever after. 

But the world always needs more stories. 

And that’s mine.

Mother’s Day, 2021


Did this post speak to you? I’d love to hear about it. Email me at hello@hangwithemma.com.

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