I had someone ask me the other day if my husband and I were trying to get pregnant (a very common question these days), and when I answered with a simple, “Yes”, the complicated situation turned sour in my brain when she responded with, “You should while you’re young!”
It’s strange how innocuous comments like these become giant balls of anger in the pit of my stomach. I wanted to clap back with a, “Yeah, I know.” Or yell, “We are. We’ve BEEN. For a year and a half.” I wanted to run away from her unplanned, perfect child and cry in the bathroom for my barren uterus. (Okay, it’s not barren, but lately it feels like it is.) I wanted to stand on my desk and scream to anyone who would listen that conceiving isn’t as simple as trying and wanting it; it’s complicated, it’s anxiety-filled, it’s hard, it’s not fun all the time, it’s exhausting, it’s stressful. And it’s a huge let-down every month my fun little friend shows up, with her horrific cramping and back aches, the bloating that makes me feel like I can blow up large enough to be carried away in the wind, all the while, those few days feeling like mother nature is mocking me; laughing at all those moments when I was young and reckless where I convinced myself one tiny mistake had left me with a child I didn’t want.
A friend of mine who is going through the same roller coaster ride as I am told me today, “This is such a lonely place to be.” And I realized how true that was. And it’s so absurd, because I’m not alone. Every month my husband goes through the let down with me. My sisters. My mom. My in-laws. Two of my oldest and best friends. Every blogger out there who has ever written about the struggles to get pregnant. Every person on the chat section of my fertility app. There are so many of us; so many people who try and try, or who try and get there, only to have their heart ripped out via miscarriage. So, when she said it was lonely, and it rang true to me, I wondered why that was so. I wondered why it does feel lonely; why this act of trying and failing leaves me feeling like I’m a disappointment every month.
Maybe it’s because I feel like the one thing my body is supposed to do – is made to do – hasn’t happened, so what does that say about me? Am I defective? Am I broken? Did I miss my window of opportunity? Should I have gotten married at 24 when I was young and new and more fertile, less full of medications and stress and anxiety, even if it was to the wrong person? I mean, what’s worse; feeling like a mother without a baby your whole life with your soulmate, or being a mother to a baby with someone you aren’t in love with?
Babies are part of my DNA. I was the typical girl who played house and was always a mommy to my dolls. When I played The Game of Life and didn’t land on one of those “It’s a Girl!” or “It’s a Boy!” spaces, I was truly upset. I’ve had a list of potential baby names that I’ve added and subtracted to since I was in junior high. Babies were always around – cousins, family friends, siblings of friends, and now my own friend’s babies. Basically, there was never any question about whether or not I would be a mother. Even if I never got married, I knew I would be a mother in some way; that was more certain to me than anything.
I’ve been told countless times by different people the same tired clichés that you’re supposed to say to people who are trying to conceive: It will happen when it’s supposed to happen. Enjoy trying! It’s all in God’s timing. Maybe this is a lesson in patience. You’re still young! You have time! God has a plan. You need to stop stressing! And while every single person who has said these things to me are people I love and who are well-meaning, it’s nothing I haven’t told myself before and it’s nothing I don’t think is true. But, what else are people supposed to say? I don’t know, so why should they?
And now, I see the same Clearblue commercial (thanks, Hulu) over and over again, with young, thin, gorgeous women holding up positive pregnancy tests with tears of joy in their eyes and I’m angry. Especially when the words, “Baby number three!” come out of one of the women’s mouth. I’m jealous. She gets three beautiful babies and I can’t even have one? But seriously, how horrible is that? However, that’s the nature of fertility; it can be really ugly and lonely and it can bring out the worst in you. It can be damaging to your self-esteem, to your psyche, and it can seep into every part of your life, whether you want it to or not.
So, what did I say to that person with the beautiful “oops” baby who was nudging me to start getting pregnant? I smiled, nodded, and agreed, and then continued to fawn over her daughter. Because, what else can you do?