If you were to ask me “when are you having kids?” I would probably have a strong desire to punch you. It’s nothing personal, honest. I just hate this question.

For most women, it’s relatively easy to answer:

When we have a house.
When we are this age.
When we pay off debt.
When we feel God prompt us.

The when of it, is seemingly in their hands. I don’t know what that’s like.

My answer to this question is a shoulder shrug. Sometimes when I’m feeling real cheeky, I am inclined to say “when sperm meets egg.” But some audiences don’t appreciate that sort of biological humor. And since most people genuinely want to know, a smart-ass remark doesn’t seem the most gracious.

To be honest, I haven’t found a way to talk about it yet. It’s not easy to explain, because my answer is: I don’t know.

I deal with infertility, in the form of PCOS. For some women, a life-style change and medication can lead to a succesful pregnancy. And then, there are many of us who live in a different reality. I know atleast a dozen women who live in my boat, and its estimated that 10 million women worldwide live with PCOS. Each with a varying degree of the same diagnosis. And each of us are routinely told the same thing: you have a lot of options.

I know I have options. I also know the options are expensive and odds not overwhelmingly in my favor. When people learn about my condition, they immediately ask about the options. “What does your doctor say? Have you tried this diet? This supplement? Have you considered IVF? You can always adopt…”

I get it, I do. Its hard to make sense of something so complicated, and so under-discussed. Understanding my diagnosis through the lens of what can be done and how it can be fixed, seems easier to digest.

I spend my days planning meals, calculating levels of nutrients and monitoring how my body responds. When I visit the doctor we talk numbers and hormones. Its always about the fixing. Always about what more I could be doing, or foods I should be trying.

But here’s the problem: Conversations that focus on fixing instead of feeling, prohibit healing. Because fixing, isn’t the same as healing. And if the conversations are always about fixing and doing, it doesnt leave room for us to heal and just be.

You probably don’t hear a lot of women talk about infertility. Its not that we don’t want to. Largely, even the most well-intentioned conversations just don’t feel free. They feel fixated on fixing. They limit the space where I can speak freely about the range of emotions and seasons that accompany infertility.

In this particular season, I don’t have a burning desire to have children. I also feel like I don’t have the freedom to say that. I feel judged whenever it leaves my lips. I usually get some rendition of “well, no one is ever fully ready to have kids,” or “you’ll change your mind!”

It’s not that I don’t want children. I do. After all, mentoring is what I love. My heart burns to champion the real self of another soul. To spend my life drawing out the authentic self of my own children? I can think of nothing more sacred.

I feel this way right now, because I don’t feel entitled to anything. Everything is a gift, not a given. I know the minute I start thinking in terms of what I should have by now, the joy leaves.

Its true, just about every month someone else I know gets pregnant. And if I can be brutally honest here? I hope I can. Sometimes my heart can’t celebrate the way I know it should. The joy feels tinged by my own “why not me?” pain.

But it doesn’t change what I know to be true: my life will not be less-full, if I am child-less. And I remind myself to come back to the gift of the present moment. I come back to just being.

Joy comes in the tender moments where I let go of expectations, and receive what is right in front of me.

What’s the best gift we can give one another while navigating pain and uncertainty? The freedom to just be.

Sometimes all we need is someone to ask “how is it with your soul?” And then, we hold safe the space for one another to speak. Wild and free and without judgement, we allow each other to fully live, when they can freely speak. Thats how we breathe a little living into each other’s dark days.

Today is about the living. Today, you can just be.

Sarah Kay

The first post in this series: honest infertility.