When the baby was first born, I could spend hours just staring at his brand-new self. I marveled at his movements. Jerky leg kicks. Graceful arm stretches. Twists and turns, quick and sudden. Even now, two months later, his muscles are still learning how to move, figuring out what it will mean to reach and roll.
Once in a while I’ll be cuddling him on my chest, and he’ll drag an elbow or foot across my stomach, and I’ll think, “Hey! I remember that – from the other side.” Newborn movement is womb-like, an embodied reminder of how we spend our first months of life flipping and kicking in safe, snug darkness as we grow.
Eventually babies grow out of the froggy legs and balled fists, but it takes a while to leave behind the gestures and postures of the womb. Even as adults we revert back to the fetal position to sleep or self-soothe when scared. It takes time and effort to overcome the habits bred into our instincts, and some of them we never lose.
It’s been nearly three years since our season of infertility ended. I have a beautiful, grinning, wild reminder of that fact running around my house every day. And yet sometimes I plop down in front of the computer at the end of the day for some idle-Interneting, and I find my fingers instinctively dragging the cursor to click on this blog. Or this one. Or this one. And lately I’ve been asking myself why.
Why, when my life is so far from those days of infertility, do I return to the stories and the sorrow of those who are still there? The women who yearn to be mothers. Or the lucky ones who have “crossed over” to parenthood through adoption or pregnancy. Why do their stories still speak to me?
It takes a long time to break our habits or turn our hearts. Finding other women who shared my sadness and frustration and fears during the months in which we were trying to conceive was a lifesaver. I didn’t feel alone. I didn’t feel desperate. I didn’t feel abandoned.
The power of sharing stories and finding soulmates cannot be underestimated. Even across the invisible Internet, we can connect and reach out, find friends and companions to share the path we journey on. Back then, it was other women who were struggling with infertility and their faith. Today it is other mothers of young children. Instinctively I search them out for insights and answers to the concerns of today.
Like the baby’s womblike moves and motions, my habits send me back again. I haven’t been able to let their stories go, because it’s important for me to remember that season of my life. The challenges and the grief, the unknowing and the doubting, the hoping and the praying. We are our journeys. And I never want to forget that part of my story that forever shaped our family’s beginning.
I’m sure my fingers won’t always gravitate towards the blogs that tell their stories. Just like I know my baby won’t always curl his little fingers around my thumb or instinctively turn his head when I graze his cheek. Over time, we slowly grow out of our old habits and the wombs that once held us safe.
But remembering where we came from is important, to help us move forward with gratitude and mindfulness.
For me, it is gratitude for the gift of two wild and precious boys. And mindfulness of those who still wait, hope, and pray.