Things we don’t talk about
We began trying for a baby in August 2007. “Won’t it happen too fast?” J asked me, but I had it planned. Or so I thought. The time was just right. The autumn was one of many fights and a PhD thesis and too many friends telling us that they were expecting and/or getting married and my job situation being far from ideal. I cried more than we tried that autumn.
Come January we were better. I remember New Year’s Eve and the excitement that “this is it, we’re really doing it”. The months came and went, we tried, I peed on sticks – not because I thought I was pregnant, but because for a while it was the only way to get my period. That’s how wacked my system was. J proposed. I said yes. I had always imagined we would get married when I was heavily pregnant, that we would marry because I was pregnant. We married the way we did (party, lots of people, presents) because I wasn’t pregnant. We married the way we did, because we wanted to, because we had the opportunity, because love is a great reason to throw a party, but we married the way we did because I wasn’t pregnant.
In July 2008, weeks before our wedding, I photographed my belly while we were vacationing at the sea. I felt certain I was pregnant, that it was happening. It wasn’t.
We married and the rain poured. Rain is a sign of fertility, but also a sign of wealth to come. I chose to focus on the latter in my short speech welcoming all our guests.
I can’t remember if I had told J before the wedding or if it wasn’t until after, but around the time of our wedding I told him that if I wasn’t pregnant after the my next cycle, we should get checked out by our doctors. Of course he answered. And then we went on our honeymoon in France.
On October 16th I peed on yet another stick. I was at home from work, I was ill, I was expecting the second line to stay away as so many times before – as every other time before – but it didn’t. The second line appeared within seconds. And so I sat with my trousers down my ankles and cried. I was pregnant. A year and a couple of months from our first try, there she was – the second line that would become our daughter.
They say that most couples will conceive within two years of trying. They say you aren’t considered infertile until you have tried that long. And they are probably right, but no one tells you of the journey to get there. No one tells you how awful you feel when friend upon friend upon friend will tell you that she’s expecting and “it just happened so quickly, I am almost not ready”. No one tells you how hurtful “we weren’t trying, it just happened, but now we’ll see where it takes us” is. No one tells you how you feel like screaming from the top of your lungs when you have friends who can magically plan their pregnancies to coincide with holidays and new jobs and the likes of it.
For some months now people have been asking me if we wouldn’t like a second child. I guess I ask people the same thing when I discover they have a 2-year-old – or at least I think it. Don’t think that I am better just because I know how hurtful the question can be.
When we were told about the changes at work and the need to fire people, a colleague of mine (currently on maternity leave) asked me why I didn’t just get try to get pregnant as quickly as possible and leave the chaotic situation to others? I told her what I tell everybody asking me about a second child. I told her that I didn’t really know, and that maybe it would be nice to get the girl out of the bedroom before having another child and ladidadida. Good thing I didn’t tell her “Excellent idea, will do right away”, because here we are. It’s almost six months later and I am nowhere near close to another maternity leave.
A couple of weeks ago I had coffee with another colleague. She has two girls and had no problems conceiving them quickly, but she is an only child and has told me how her parents were told they were incredibly lucky to having conceived her after years and years of trying without luck. When she asked me about more children, my answer was the same vague bedroom one that I give everyone else. Even though she of all people should understand, because infertility deprived her of sisters and brothers – and almost deprived her parents of her. So why couldn’t I, for once, be honest?
It’s weird how not being able to conceive is sort of taboo (and how not wanting children at all is as well). And how wanting them and conceiving them are not. It’s weird how I, on one hand, hate when people ask me about more children, but how, on the other hand, I ask other people the exact same question – or at least think about it. Why do I feel like less worthy because I am not pregnant the minute I want it? Why is it so difficult to look people straight in the eye and tell them that “you know what? Conceiving is a bit of a struggle for us, so I don’t really feel like talking about it”?
On my desk at work is a picture of my girl and her father. They are peeking out from behind the fall foliage leaves of New England. Her eyes are smiling and her hair is pointing in every possible direction. When I look at that picture my heart skips a beat and I want to leave work and pick her up from daycare immediately. I want to give her brothers and sisters, I want to show her the world, I want to keep her warm and safe and happy and fed. But most of all I want her to know that I love her. No matter what!
Thank God that love is not taboo, that love is something we talk about.