Mother of Her Inner Child
Selfie — resilient and creative
Her Inner Light — faith in God
Her message to women everywhere — “Don’t be afraid to speak your truth. Share something even if it takes you out of your comfort zone. Through sharing we receive.”
Warmth is Aleli Crutchfield’s trademark. She reaches out, even when first meeting a new person, and her embrace is accompanied by a huge smile and hearty laugh. Alleli describes herself being childlike, approaching each day with a sense of discovery. And her attitude towards life, “In the moment, I cannot understand my struggles. But later on I'll see the reason and my growth through that learning."
Aleli’s road towards motherhood has been long and arduous. For close to five years, she and her husband have struggled to start a family. She was able to conceive at one point, but her hopes were dashed when at six weeks, the doctor couldn’t detect a heartbeat in her precious bundle. She fell into depression. “I never imagined this would be a difficulty I'd have to go through. There was a lot of self blaming and doubt. Maybe I am not relaxing enough. Maybe I did something to my body to cause this. Wasn’t being a mother the reason I was put on this earth as a woman?”
Though not openly discussed, infertility is a common problem. According to the CDC, infertility affects about 10% of women in the child-bearing age. And infertility is not just the woman’s problem as generally perceived. In cases treated for infertility, problems traced to men versus women are found in equal numbers. But because infertility is such a personal matter, many women suffer in silence as was the case for Aleli in her earlier years. “I didn’t know anyone going through it. All I kept seeing were babies and pregnant women, and increasingly for the second or third time.” Not having anyone to turn to was extremely isolating. Even now after she has gone through several cycles of infertility treatments, the emotional rollercoaster and month to month heartbreakshave not gotten easier.
Since grieving her miscarriage, Aleli has put herself on a healthier path. Today she chooses hope rather than self-doubt. Even though infertility has shaken her to the core and tested her marriage, she is not ready to give up. “I know God has a plan for me, and maybe I will have to make peace with not being able to get pregnant. But I know one day I will be a mother. If not biologically, then through adoption or the foster care system.” She is also learning her limits. “We women, we are so hard on ourselves, so critical. We are wives, mothers, and mothers-to-be, all these different roles to different people, and we are always trying to be perfect. But who and what am I trying to prove? Why am I constantly so competitive against myself?” If infertility has taught Aleli anything it is that in spite all the uncertainty and self doubt, she has come to realize and be reminded over and over that she does not have to be perfect. She can just let some things go and prioritize taking care of herself. “Like going to a yoga practice or spending time in nature, which always nourishes my spirit.” It’s taken a lot to get to this point, but Aleli has moved towards the peace of knowing that she is enough just as she is.
Speaking out about her infertility struggles has also helped Aleli stay hopeful. “I put myself out there even when I don’t know how I'm going to be received. And I've seen how I can help others gain clarity on their experience and take away some of their sadness.” Being willing to be vulnerable, Aleli's way of giving back, has in turn charted her toward her own healing path. With her trademark smile, Aleli says, "Life is made for sharing experiences. Even though our paths are hard and unclear, sharing our stories allows us to become blessings for one another."
This story was captured by Cheng-Ling from Herliograph.