Working on a Snowman: What You Don't Expect When You're Not Expecting

Around this time last year, I let my vulnerability flag fly when I spoke up about a few realities of my personal journey with infertility in my post Breaking A Silence. An alternate title for that one might have been “What To Expect When You’re Not Expecting.”
Since then, we’ve continued our eight-year-plus journey, with those same experiences and expectations, but along the path, we’ve ventured into a new territory, and I’m going to call it “What You Don’t Expect When You’re Not Expecting.”
So let’s talk about it.
Let’s talk about the things that three-and-a-half years ago never even crossed my mind, until now.
Until the aha moment that smacked me one day recently when I stopped to meditate on what it was exactly that had me in such a funk of emotional quicksand.

I had no idea.

I knew three-and-a-half years ago when my sweet Jack was born that he would fill a very major and long-awaited void in my heart, my head and my life. Regardless of the way it happened, I became a mom, and I knew that lifelong goal was absolutely satisfied. And I was thrilled with it, blessed beyond belief and so, so happy. I knew he was always meant to be ours and I knew he was supposed to come to our family just the way he did and at exactly the time he did. I knew he wasn’t my flesh and blood, but he was every bit mine.
I had no idea that I would continue to be plagued and tormented by our ambiguous diagnosis of “unexplained infertility.” I had no idea that I’d still yearn for some actual answers and still find myself wondering if someday I’d wake up to a different kind of miracle.

I knew before Jack was born (before he was even a glimmer in our minds) that our family would never feel complete with only one child.
I had no idea that comments and advice the likes of, “time for another one!” would affect me just as deeply as pre-Jack inquiries of, “So, when are you going to have kids?” As if a first child comes with a redeemable Second Child Voucher that possesses an imminent expiration date. If only it were that easy.
I had no idea that I’d, once again, be torn over the decision of where to invest my emotions, time, energy and money: fertility or adoption? I had no idea that I would feel incredibly selfish and guilty for still wanting to experience pregnancy and all that comes with it. I had no idea that I’d be caught at the same crossroads as before, but with a hundred new factors nagging me about which way to choose.

I knew that someday we’d be ready for a sibling for Jack. I knew that we’d likely have to wait for one and fight just as hard as we did for him.
I had no idea that Jack would long for a sibling himself. I had no idea that he’d leave me in a sobbing puddle in my husband’s arms as he ran around the house singing his own made-up song of “I Wish I Had A Sister.” I had no idea that he’d imagine his dolls into siblings and the family he wished, just as my husband and I do, that he could have.
I had no idea that we’d build a little snowman in the yard just today and he would run up to it, arms outstretched and shout, “I FINALLY HAVE A SISTER!” Or that I’d want to respond something like, “Dang right, kid. That snowman was almost as painstaking for me to come by as an actual sister is turning out to be.” Snowmen require persistence. Holy moly. Did I forget that or was I just oblivious to it as a child? Or was it more fun when I wasn’t so old, trudging through it all alone while someone watched over my shoulder and repeatedly asked, "Is it done yet??" because it was taking, and I swear my neighbors just busted theirs out in like 3 seconds? Did I give up on it then the way I wanted to give up on it today?
What an analogy this is turning out to be as I type it…

I knew before Jack that this journey wasn’t uniquely my own or meant to cause me to turn permanently inward and wallow in self-pity, self-loathing, jealousy, anger or spite. So instead, I choose to learn. And the longer the journey, the more perpetual the education.  But I’ve always loved to learn. I want to leave this life with as much experience as I can get.

I knew it would be worth it.  Jack taught me that.
For five long years we waited and wished and worked for him. And I wouldn’t take back a second of those years because of the things I experienced and learned and the way I grew as an individual.
I had no idea I’d be here again, at least not to this equal-if-not-harder extent.
But it’s OK.
We keep trying.
I’ll keep working on the snowman. No matter how many times it falls through my fingers or crumbles into pieces on the ground, I’ll keep going – patiently rolling along and packing it together as I go, keeping my vision on the result.
Because sooner or later, it will come. And no matter how it does, it will be another beautiful masterpiece that I can look at with pride and appreciation for the sweat and tears it took to get it here.

By my stubborn determination, it can’t help but come.


  1. What a beautiful post. I am so sorry that infertility is your path right now because it just super sucks. And it is hard. And you don't deserve it. And even if you are learning a lot, sometimes it would be nice to be the one who gets to learn from others right? I don't have an answer. But I do know that I love you and that I am blessed to know you and are blessed by you in so many ways. Thank you for being you.