Guest Post By Cathie Quillet

[media-credit name=”Lori” align=”aligncenter” width=”989″]An empty crib without the baby[/media-credit]

Growing up, mama taught me that femininity was synonymous with strength. As her only daughter, she made sure to depart in me all the characteristics that I would need to navigate this world as a woman. Bravery. Courage. Resiliency. Strength.

I knew that I would need those things during those ruthless years in high school, once she and dad launched me into college and as I struggled with whom I was going to become in early adulthood.

I could tell you tales of how each of those adjectives were tested and woven stronger into the fabric of my soul. I can, however, recall a defining moment in my story, where the lessons of femininity were tested all at once.

It was a beautiful fall day. Vibrant autumn leaves crunched under our feet as my husband escorted me through the sliding doors of our local emergency room. Just days prior, we had seen the heartbeat of the baby which we had conceived just ten short weeks before. Junior’s heart was beating rhythmically, and was the most beautiful music to our ears. A short matter of days, later, I had begun spotting.

Related: It Was More Than “Just” a Miscarriage

Forever the realist, I knew this was not great news; however, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that this could mean that my body was discharging my baby.

After our ears felt like they were going to start bleeding from the elevator music playing in the waiting room, the ultrasound technician took us back to her little cave. I put on the plastic little gown, she goobered up her wand and went to work.

No noise came out from the speakers which should have detected a little heartbeat. No colored splotches indicated how baby’s blood was flowing. There was no heartbeat. She awkwardly spoke some fluffy words and excused herself from our presence.

In that moment, while our world was falling off its axis, we were faced with a choice. My darling husband squeezed my face after wiping my tears and made me promise that this moment would not change us. He made me promise that we would be better despite all the difficult times laying ahead. I am not sure how he had the presence of mind to utter should profound words. He is just amazing like that.

As a woman, I stood at the crossroads of Do I Let This Ruin Me Lane? and How Can I Be Better At The End Of *This* Road?All of a sudden, the lessons that mama instilled in me came screaming back and I knew she was rearing me for such a time as this. I needed bravery, courage, resiliency and strength.

Please hear me when I say that tears can happen while exercising your strength. Courage can have intermittent pity parties. Bravery can want to run and hide sometimes. Resiliency can want to run and hide. No one can be superwoman all the time. No one can have it all together all the time.

Related: Finding Strength

I remember studying for my National Marriage and Family Therapy exam. There, tucked in the middle of a marital stressor chapter was a little blurb on infertility. *True confession: I minimized the problem, shamefully exclaiming that it meant that the couple just got to have more sex. Don’t hate me. I am embarrassed by that poor naive little newlywed.*

Truth is, society is a little like that younger me, ignorantly pacifying the struggle that is infertility. If only they had the slightest idea about the strength that it takes some days for an infertile woman to just get out of bed and face the day. Society pacifies what they do not understand. Lucky them, in most instances.

Hindsight has revealed to me that I was much stronger than I realized at the time. It shows me that while I wished I was invisible as I walked into church on Mother’s Day Sunday, I was a lot more courageous than I thought. It makes me realize that I am becoming more of the fighter that my mama was wanting me to be.

On a daily basis, strength looked like getting out of bed. It looked like going to a friend’s baby shower when I wanted to avoid it like the plague. It meant turning the calendar to a new year without crying that my little one wasn’t tucked in bed upstairs. Courage looked like walking by my empty nursery every single solitary time I had to use the restroom. I found who I was becoming in the nooks and crannies of the everyday.

I would venture to guess that you, too, may be stronger, braver, more courageous and more resilient than you think you are. Celebrate your smaller victories. Don’t collect things you should have done better before you nod off to sleep; rather, find those moments when you tried to show infertility who is boss.

We see you, sister. You, my friend, are stronger than you think you are. You are a fighter. You are amazing.

Of all the hats Cathie Quillet wears, she is most proud to be the wife of Tyler and the mom of two little boys, born of African decent, who now call her Mama. Cathie wrote about her journey through infertility and miscarriage in the recently released book, NOT PREGNANT. Cathie and her husband battled infertility for years, losing four babies to first trimester miscarriages. She wishes that instead of reading her words, you were sitting in her living room with her, drinking a warm cup of coffee, chatting about all of the intricacies of life.