by Wendi Kitsteiner
“Wow, you really have your hands full.”
“Are you running a daycare?”
“Are they all yours?”
I heard all these comments during one afternoon of grocery shopping with my children.
Four children five and under will do that to people.
But what people don’t know as they watch me maneuver through the aisles, one child in the little car “driving” the cart, one child in the seat constantly trying to pull out whatever I just put in, and two boys dutifully trying to stay close and not break anything, is that my story is far from what it appears to be.
My husband and I were married for ten years before we had children. Five of those years were spent in and out of doctor’s offices. Three failed Clomid cycles. Five failed intra-uterine insemination (IUI) cycles. Four failed attempts at in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
By 2007, we were spent. Not only were we emotionally spent, but I was physically spent, and we were way past financially spent. As a devout Christian, I must admit my faith was waning. We had tried everything imaginable to have the children we dreamed about.
And our home was still childless.
So when fellow errand-runners would make comments like, “You do know where babies come from?” I had to laugh because in fact, only half of my children came to us “the old-fashioned way.”
In the midst of our deepest and darkest infertility days, our phone rang. A very dear friend was pregnant at seventeen. She asked us to adopt her son. And suddenly, every friend we had ever known was throwing a baby shower for us. Seven baby showers!
When Isaac was only six weeks old, I discovered I was eight weeks pregnant. Elijah joined us eight months later.
Abigail would join us by sheer miracle just two years later, and then our very last IVF embryo somehow defied all the odds and became Hannah.
So when those well-meaning but off-the-mark comments fly out of people’s mouths while I slowly pull my kiddos out of my minivan, I don’t get upset.
Instead, I remember.
I remember being childless and walking through the aisles at Target and seeing a woman with four tiny children attempting to shop for a few items without losing her mind. I remember thinking, “How easy she has it. How simple it is for some people. Why does she get to have babies and I don’t?”
You don’t know the whole story.
My husband is a doctor. And I have become very aware of what that profession conjures up in people’s minds. I actually attempt to avoid telling anyone what my husband does for a living, because I know it will result in preconceived notions about me. How I dress. How I shop. What I do with my free time.
What people do not see is who my husband and I were before he decided, in his late twenties, to go back to school as pre-med. They don’t see our lower middle class upbringings. They don’t see our parents’ very blue-collar jobs. They don’t see the fact that my husband ran a business full time while going to school full time. And they definitely don’t see the four years we spent overseas after my husband joined the Air Force to pay for medical school.
You Don’t Know the Whole Story!
Most likely, you have your own unfulfilled dream. Or you are battling intense grief that has not healed. You are running your errands or sitting next to someone in Sunday School and thinking, “They have it so easy. Why do they have a child and a good job while we struggle so much? When will it be our turn?”
He knows your pain. He knows your story. And He knows the ending. He also wants you to know that you are not alone. While it may feel like you are the only one facing pain, grief, and unfulfilled dreams, picture me with my gaggle of children, and remember:
You Don’t Know the Whole Story!
Wendi Kitsteiner is a former city girl now living on a farm in the middle of nowhere, Tennessee with her husband and four young children. She is passionate about the causes of infertility, adoption, and keeping it real as a mom. You can follow her at flakymn.blogspot.com or becauseofisaac.org.
Photograph by Heinz Anton Meier.