I didn’t grow up dreaming of being a stepmother, though I knew through my own family that “step” didn’t make you any less family. I did dream however of one day having my own children. I dreamed about how my kids would look just like my spouse, and I would get paid back for all of my crazy antics as a child.
At 26, I ended a 6-year relationship with a man because in the end, I never looked at him and saw a husband. We had tried for the better part of four years to get pregnant naturally. When I ended the relationship, I started to ponder the fact I may never be a mother.
My hard and fast rule of never dating men with kids seem to be more about my fear than what my heart was capable of.
Stepmom Infertility: Salt in the Wound
When I met my husband, he appeared on the surface to be all of the things I told myself I wouldn’t get involved with. He had a son who lived in another state, and I warmed up to the idea that I would still get the chance to live like a young couple who didn’t have kids. This was partially true; we didn’t physically have my stepson full-time, but that didn’t mean that the financial responsibilities went away.
When we got married, I went off birth control. I thought that kids would at some point just happen and we would have to deal with the responsibility when it did. I had this mindset that the reason it hadn’t happened before was because it wasn’t the right time. Two years went by, and we never got pregnant.
We finally dealt with the fact that we were facing infertility as a couple.
Why her but not me?
In our early years of marriage, my stepson’s birth mother was very high conflict. It caused a lot of fights between my husband and me. There were even times I thought it would be the end of my marriage.
Once we acknowledged that there was an issue 2 years into our relationship, we started to do things that would help our chances of becoming pregnant. I would resent my husband for being able to get his ex pregnant so easily. It was as if I carried the burden of our infertility. I was angry that I had to be the problem and it wasn’t something that was both of our issues. We had given up hope for conceiving naturally.
Then, surprisingly, about two and a half years into our journey, we became pregnant! I was over the moon, but it didn’t last long. I miscarried six and half weeks later. It was excruciatingly difficult to have conversations with my husband about the pregnancy knowing he had already experienced this with another woman. His words stung and felt like daggers every time we talked about the pregnancy. In fact, I had been traveling for work when I found out, so I didn’t even get to experience what little bit of pregnancy I had with him. I was angry I was robbed of experiencing my only pregnancy with my husband. I wanted him to experience the morning sickness. I wanted him to encourage me to take naps and to take care of myself and the baby. I felt hurt once again that I wouldn’t be able to experience pregnancy as he had already been able to when his son was conceived.
Talk it Out
It came time for us to start having conversations about how much we were going to pursue having a child. My husband was take it or leave it. It really hurt me he didn’t imagine this future of us having children together. It was something I longed for more than my next breath. Some of our biggest fights have been about how much money we should invest in infertility treatments. What do we do after if infertility treatments don’t work? Do we open our home up to adoption or foster children? I asked endless questions of my husband, “Don’t you want a tribe of our own?”
Fielding the Questions
Until I found the courage to write this article, we hadn’t shared our miscarriage with my stepson or his mother. She recently asked my husband while on a trip to see his son if we were going to have more children. Of course she didn’t mean it in a malicious way; she was just curious if her son would have brothers or sisters. I’m glad I had two years to process my miscarriage before she asked. By this time, I had also received a ton of support from girlfriends that I’ve met through the infertility community. People don’t realize that when they ask when you’re going to have children, they have no idea how long you may have been trying. Infertility questions come at random times and can be in almost every encounter.
The most popular question I receive at work is the number of children I have. I never know how to respond. At this point I just say I have an amazing stepson, and I get the pleasure of being his bonus mom. I hope one day I get to say I’m someone’s mom–not a bonus mom, not a stepmom–but some beautiful child’s biological mom. Until then, I’m working on building a fantastic relationship with my soon-to-be 11-year-old stepson and trying to create the best relationship I can with his amazing mother. If God never blesses me with anything else, I’m just so happy I get to be in these three people’s lives.