This story is part of our End of the Childbearing Years series, exploring the experiences, decisions, and feelings of Mormon women around this pivotal transition. Each story is a generous and vulnerable offering. We ask that comments be sensitive and nonjudgmental toward any woman’s choices or beliefs.

By Anonymous

My own childbearing years were, according to me, over before they began. I married at 23 and decided, with my husband, to get pregnant at 25, as if that were how it works—that I could make something happen merely by deciding to. I was never someone who just knew they always wanted to be a mother but the desire, in the beginning, was in me. So the years of infertility that followed brought a torrent and complexity of emotions unlike anything I had before faced. The initial hope gradually diminished, then eventually was all but lost. I grappled with the sensation of being crushed, over and over again by all the pain and bitterness and anger that accompanies loss.

Then finally I chose to take control of my life again. To act and not be acted upon. In order to do this, I had to reset the parameters of what it meant to have hope and faith. I reconfigured that new definition in an entirely new form of acceptance, and an awareness that I could not control all things—an illusion that, until this experience, I’d not yet seen for what it was. I set on a new and complicated mission as I made attempts to master the very fine but elusive art of letting go. I examined myself to discern what I could control, which led to a development of gratitude for the things I had instead of focusing on what I didn’t have. This ultimately became my saving grace and led to a return of my power. But in so doing, I had to come to terms with the fact that I might never have children, even deciding at times that I most certainly never would, just to have something concrete in my life and future. I found peace with this new knowledge, for to me it was definite knowledge and a fact I sealed up inside of me. I was never going to have a child and I was ok with that. Happy, even.

And then I became pregnant and all I knew to be fact and truth shattered to the floor. My complex emotions took on even greater levels of intricacy: I now simultaneously felt desire and non-desire for a child. And thus it has been ever since. I had that child at age 29 in spite of the science, but the feeling of being at the end of my childbearing years never changed. I had a child but I still thought of myself as someone who could never become pregnant. I think many people who go through infertility carry that with them always, no matter what happens in their life. I’ll never understand why or how I had a child. There are times where I accept him as the gift and miracle that he is, and other times where I feel certain God let one slip through the cracks, and we all just have to make do. I’m 37 now, and my son is eight. My husband and I sort of tried for another but I never really believed it to be possible. I never expected it to happen and it never did, a result most often met with relief. Relief because I wasn’t at all sure it was something I really wanted, and also because it fit well with my internal reality. I could not have children.

Having something be impossible and then having it happen anyway changes the way a person thinks about life. For me, one became more than enough. But I find myself wondering those silly things—what would it be like to have another? Would I do a better job the second time around, as I often hear? Wouldn’t it be nice for him to have a sibling? So here I am, dancing that difficult dance of happy acceptance with what I’ve been given and wondering if there’s more. I feel torn about it almost all the time and I imagine I always will. Most of me understands that I am and always have been at the end of my childbearing years. But there is a part that must wait for the science to catch up, and then I can move forward.