Infertility and the need to be necessary

“Make yourself necessary to somebody.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Happy toddler holding onto mother's hands

Jamie Grill / Getty Images

I received this quote and picture in a daily email I get and I found it so profound–such a short statement with such a strong message.

When facing infertility it can be easy to become consumed with pregnancy, with the physical act of a body procreating–it can become tempting to label only this act as motherhood.

Yet what lies at the heart of being a mother is the beautiful gift of making oneself necessary to another. Building a family through pregnancy brings satiation to a biological need. It is not however what ultimately makes one human being necessary to another.

Last night while at a social function I watched a little girl playing with her mom–drawing elaborate pictures in a wild hue of crayons in between crawling up to sprawl her entire little body all the way along her mother’s outstretched legs.

Last night I saw firsthand just what is it to be necessary.

Being necessary is about being the outstretched, soft, warm landing place for a little person on the verge of becoming. It is about saying “no” to the fourth cookie at the last hour before bedtime. It is about taking the open permanent marker out of a tightly balled fist headed for the new coffee table–despite the loud screams of protest. Being necessary is about all of the things that come with being there, totally, completely, and forever, for another human being–regardless of biology.

Each and every woman who desires to be a mother is necessary. Somewhere out there, for every single one of us, there are ten little fingers reaching only for our hands to grab a hold of. There are ten little toes needing our legs to settle upon.

When fertility fails it can be easy to forget that what we all need is to make ourselves necessary to someone. And on the path to motherhood there are many ways to meet that need.

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