This year, I gave myself my Mother’s Day gift early. When my teenage son competed in the state music contest in a bigger city, his two little sisters and I ran to the store to buy all of the toiletry items we can’t buy in our prairie town of 1,000 or through Amazon Prime. Back at home, I decided to restock the cabinet in our bathroom. I sat the bags of new supplies next to me on the floor. I took a deep breath and opened the cabinet door. The shelves were a heap of boxes, bottles and tubes—my own pharmacy of sorts.
For me, motherhood started at 18. My girls came along at 28 and 30. Now, six years later, I decided it was time to face the reality and throw away my fertility for Mother’s Day.
We wanted more children. I held out hope my fertility would produce fruit. Just a year ago on Mother’s Day, I was grieving the loss of a second ectopic pregnancy.
As I confronted my bathroom cabinet, my heart still ached a bit for another child. I grabbed the trash can and started to toss. The ovulation kits and pregnancy tests were the first to go. A couple months’ worth of birth control pills, prenatal vitamins and iron tablets followed. I still had a bottle of Fenugreek, which I took to increase my milk supply when I was a working/nursing mom. I reached into the cabinet again and again, pulling out Lanolin nipple cream, nursing pads, infant drop vitamins, teething tablets and nighttime teething gel. It had been almost six years since my last cesarean, and I still had a peri bottle from the hospital and the almighty Vicodin. In a matter of minutes, the cabinet was bare.
I’ve spent all of my 30s trying to decide if I should, if I could or if I would have another baby. Tying up that garbage bag brought closure. I’m done having babies. I wasn’t ever in control anyway. I should have learned that lesson at 18 when I became a mother at the most inopportune time. Since then, I’ve come to appreciate and cherish God’s blessing of motherhood—and it’s become the most rewarding and challenging role of my life.
I walked out to the dumpster and threw away my fertility. I announced to my husband, who was standing in the yard, “I just threw EVERYTHING away in our bathroom cabinet.” With a wary smile he said, “And how does it feel?” During this journey, my husband has been my listening ear and strong shoulder as I’ve struggled with the fact I’m done having babies. “I’ve been a mother half my life now,” I replied. “I don’t need any more than what I have.”
Women who live in a first-world country tend to try to control their own fertility because we have so many medical advancements and options. In turn, we easily lose sight of the many blessings we’ve been given in a land of plenty.
Cleaning out my bathroom cabinet, throwing away all I depended on for so many years and refilling it with fresh toiletries was a nod to new chapters to come—designed by God and out of my control. While God has always known I would have three kids, it took me some time to catch on. I’m never going to take a pregnancy test again—and I’m never going to have to deal with the disappointment, despair and failure of losing another pregnancy. I’m never going to give birth to another baby and cradle him or her in my arms again. I’m grateful God gave me three chances to hold perfectly formed babies and now raise them as their mother. As I cleaned out the cabinet, I was overcome by a sense of peace—I was doing the right thing at the right time.
There is plenty to read when you’re starting a family, struggling with fertility and raising a miracle baby, but when it comes to deciding your childbearing years are over, there is very little said. Deciding your family is complete is a private choice. It’s personal—and here I am breaking all the rules by writing about it. It goes beyond any stick, test, vitamin, treatment or doctor’s advice.
For all those who long to be mothers or are hurt because they might never be, God has a plan designed for you, too. It took me 18 years to live out this stage of my life—from becoming a mother when it was the last thing on my mind to closing the door when I really didn’t want to but knew it was time. Hopefully, I have plenty more years of living and learning in store.
This I do know, I won’t hold onto something thrown in a cabinet this long anymore. I will clean it out and move on, knowing a new chapter can be just as rewarding.
Mother’s Day evokes a buffet of emotions—and not all are positive. My first Mother’s Day, I was six months pregnant and already feeling like a failure as a mom. Not everyone’s entry into motherhood comes in ideal circumstances. Not everyone is a mother. Some have a rocky relationship with their mother. Others miss their mother or long to know her.
This Mother’s Day, I encourage you to give yourself the gift of letting go. What is holding you back from enjoying the blessings right in front of you?