I’ve been there for all of my daughter’s firsts: first breath, first steps, first day of school (17 times), first disappointment, first boyfriend, first job, first married kiss. But now, for the first time, she’s got a first I can’t do much about. And it is killing me. You see, my beautiful, talented, kind twenty-five-year-old daughter is dealing with infertility and all I can do is stand back in the name of privacy.

My daughter and I have been able to talk about pretty much everything through the years. But when she became a married woman, some things became off-limits, like her relationship with her husband. No matter how much you prepare your children for marriage, ultimately they have to figure it out for themselves. So, I don’t talk about their sex life and I don’t talk about when they are going to have children (even though being a grandmother is high on my to-do list). Call me old fashioned, but I just believe that is their business. I never, ever want to be known as a meddling mother.

My daughter married young—20 years old. I didn’t think they would be worrying about kids for the first year or two. And they didn’t. Then they were married three years. Heck, I was married three years when I had her sister. No word. After their fourth anniversary, I earnestly wondered, “Don’t they want to have kids? “ Oh no. “What if they can’t have kids?” The panic quietly began to set in, along with worry. I didn’t want to pry, yet at the same time I didn’t want my daughter and son-in-law going down the infertility path alone (if that was indeed where they were at). I had to figure out some way to breech my confidentiality pact and venture in to a conversation that I wasn’t sure I was privy to have.

During a visit (they live three states away) I got an opening. My daughter and I were having a great mother-daughter bonding day and I took advantage of the positive karma. My speech went something like this: “You know how we could always talk about anything? And you know how I don’t like to talk about your private things? Well, I couldn’t help but notice you haven’t gotten pregnant yet. Are you having issues? Because if you are, I want you to know I am here for you. And if you don’t want to talk about it, that is OK. But I want you to know I care and I love you.”

Relieved, she confessed that yes, they were having issues and were starting to investigate the source of those issues. They were also looking into their options as well as dealing with the emotional roller coaster they were on. She thanked me for asking, appreciated my concern, and would keep me posted—within limits.
That was almost a year ago; not much has been said since. And it is killing me. So, I just keep on doing what a good mother does: I wonder. I pray. And I stand back, waiting for this first to be over, one way or another.