This is gonna be a long one, so get yourself a snack or a beverage or schedule a bathroom break or something.
My ambivalence about having children has colored much of my adult life. And my blog. Then I went and met and fell in love with and married someone who is a true partner, and wouldn’t require as much care – if not more – than a child. I know it’s odd, but when I look back a lot of my fears and thinking “Nope, not for me” had a lot to do with being in relationships with people who already sucked a lot out of me, so why would I add more stress? FUNNY HOW THOSE RELATIONSHIPS DIDN’T ULTIMATELY WORK OUT, HUH? And suddenly having a child didn’t seem so scary. Sure, I worried (and still worry) that I’m not terribly maternal or a natural, too grossed out by vomit and snot to be able to do the work that accompanies all the lullabies and tiny onesies, but it seemed doable. And if there’s anything that this relationship has taught me, it’s that while Ed and I aren’t opposites, we seem to complement each other well. Meaning: if I’m having a feak-out, he’s being the sane one and vice versa. Plus, we tell ourselves, our parents had no clue what they were doing and we had great childhoods and aren’t axe murderers. Surely we – two college-educated, relatively mature, loving adults – could handle this.
Our plan was to start trying after we had been married a year. Just a few months shy of our anniversary I went in for my annual check-up, where I was almost sent away since I had been in a year before and everything looked great. “Look,” I told the nurse, “I’ve been sitting in the waiting room for 40 minutes, I’m in a paper towel skirt, and I want to talk about starting a family. We’re doing this.” The exam was quick, painless, and uneventful. “Start taking some folic acid now” I was breezily advised as I sat up, confident that the next time I would be in that office I would be pregnant.
And then all this shit went down and it was clear that any plans for a baby would be derailed for awhile. Meanwhile, everyone from my best friend to bloggers I follow to fucking Snooki was getting pregnant. People in my Facebook feed were all, “Hey, I just got pregnant with my 3rd kid and wasn’t even trying!” and I was all, “Hey,
I’mma put my fist through a wall CONGRATS!” so it’s been pretty awesome around here. Once we finally got the all-clear to start trying (meaning: my cells were at a normal level for over six months), I was once again confident that I would get pregnant right away because…it’s what I wanted? And I had always been taught that if you set your focus on something you can make it happen? And maybe there was a tiny bit of – for lack of a better word – entitlement? Not like we deserve a baby more than anyone else, but we had been patient and were good people and JESUS HOW MANY MORE FIERY HOOPS DO I NEED TO JUMP THROUGH I MEAN FOR FUCK’S SAKE.
When you get down to how long we’ve been actually trying, there’s no real reason for alarm. But when I think of how long we’ve wanted this and it still isn’t happening, it feels so unfair. Sometimes I laugh at what birth control Nazis we’ve been because a kid a year or six months before we were “ready” would have been better than no kid at all.
Lately I find myself swinging wildly between focusing even harder and putting my intentions out there to the universe and getting a quote for new carpet to prepare our home for a little crawler and – on the other end of the spectrum – signing up for sky diving and throwing my pre-natal vitamins in the garbage and saying “fuck it” with the home improvements and planning a big trip because what’s holding us back? The two weeks of waiting are filled with hope. We talk about names and paint colors for a nursery and how exciting it would be. I’m on high-alert for pregnancy symptoms and find myself playing “PMS or Pregnant?” Inevitably I’m crying in the tampon aisle while telling myself “Well, you’re not coming back to this Walgreens again, you walking cliche of a hormonal woman.” The thought that Kim Kardashian will get to be a mom and I may not fills me with rage. I mean, you just know she’s going to name the kid something like Kartier or Vajazzle. I’m able to muster some enthusiasm if I hear about someone who has struggled, but barely.
At my worst moments, I offer to have our marriage annulled so Ed can start over with someone new because this is so not what he signed on for.* I blame myself for aging and not being one of those preternaturally fertile women, which is incredibly productive. I wonder if I jinxed myself when I told Ed, back when we were engaged, that I could be happy without children because our life is so good as it is.** I feel ungrateful for everything we have right now – why do I want more?
Well-meaning friends and family say things like “There’s always IVF or adoption!” and “It took us five years to get pregnant!” and I try to be gracious and listen to their stories but it’s not much consolation, nor is this new information. And I don’t know that I have four more years of negative tests and heartache in me. Others, while cradling their children, serenely tell me to relax and let things happen the way they’re supposed to, because as we all know when you tell someone (and by “someone” I mean “me”) to “relax” it totally helps! THANK YOU FOR THAT USEFUL ADVICE. WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT?
I’m not really sure where I’m going with this other than it’s been weighing heavily on me for awhile and has been a huge contributor to the radio silence on my part around here. I went back-and-forth on whether to write this (or, more specifically, to hit “publish”) because: MAJOR BUMMER, but for almost five years (!!) this blog has been as much my outlet for frustrations and heartbreak as it is a place to tell you about the stunningly stupid stuff I do or cool lip gloss I found. And in the past there’s been something about writing through the anger and frustration that helps me a.) let go, even if just a little bit and b.) opens me up to new opportunities. So we’ll see where this all ends.
Here we go.
*He is having none of that.
**This is still true.