That’s the Plan

Folks, here it is. The piece I wrote and read at Listen to Your Mother. It comes from two years of carrying a secret that I am just starting to share. The process has been scary for me. While I am an outgoing person and have a blog, I remain fairly private except with a handful of very close friends. Even then, they (and my family) will attest it can be like pulling teeth for me to share what’s on my mind or in my heart. I know, I know – the irony is that I help people communicate for a living and have a difficult time with it myself.

I would also like to credit Melanie Blodgett of You Are My Fave, who bravely wrote her piece, “Reality,” more than one year ago. It really stuck with me. It still does. I commented on her story and she actually sent me a message, and let me re-post her piece.

Since I shared this with hundreds of people on Mother’s Day and have promised it here for a while, here is my piece for LTYM:

3rd Annual LTYM: Madison Marquis, courtesy of Ann Imig

“That’s the Plan”

I’m sick of feeling pregnant. Because I’m not, and that’s making me sick. The cure for not being pregnant? Don’t tell me, because I’ve tried it all, including sickness-inducing fertility medicine. That? Yep, tried it. What about this? Uh-huh. But have you considered? Absolutely.

My medical diagnosis? Secondary infertility. My personal diagnosis: infertile mother. My personal and medical outlook: uncertain.

But let me back up. Because the “secondary” part of my diagnosis is because there’s a gorgeous three-year-old that runs around my house – she of red, curly hair, brown eyes, and a smile laced with dimples. For her my heart beats and all is well.

Yet, here I stand, unable to produce pink lines on a pregnancy test. Instead, all I get is red spots on my underpants, a reminder of my almost-but-not-quite attempt at curing my diagnosis. Two years have passed. Two years of no baby, no pregnancy to bitch about, no additional stretch marks, and no reason to open the 18 boxes of baby clothes and toys in the basement.

As each month passes, I vacillate between anger, disbelief and indifference. As each month passes, more calculating, calendar watching and hope comes into play.

What is often so maddening is that I thought I had the perfect prescription for becoming pregnant, as evidenced by my child: you go to South America for 10 days, eat random pig parts on a grill, drink Malbec and espresso until your toes curl, and come home pregnant. Simple enough, right? I attempted another vacation conception while in Japan, but the sake and seaweed, combined with that many time zones, didn’t motivate the magic to happen.

As each month passes, I lightly respond to my daughter’s request for a brother or sister. “We’re working on it.” As each month passes, more and more people ask “if we plan on having more kids.” I answer, “that’s the plan.” As each month passes, acquaintances who run into me look furtively at my already full figure, and briefly wonder, “is she yet?” The answer to that, we know, is “no.”

As each month passes, I struggle with living two realities: one, the mother so happy with her family trinity; the other, sad, rejected, and lost in a dream of baby sighs, baby smell, baby cuddles, and giving birth again with Stevie Wonder playing in the background.

So I ask you: when I mention my family of three, hoping for four, please look at me and say, “your family is perfect.”  When I mention that it may just be the three of us, please look at me and say, “your family is perfect.” When I seem hopeful or sad, please look at me and say, “your family is perfect.” When I evade your questions or overshare, please look at me and say, “I hear you.”

When I dig deep I realize that as much as I want another baby, another being, I want another chance at being a mother. My first attempt was so fraught with struggle at the beginning – an impossibly long labor and delivery, a baby who refused to nurse, a visit to the hospital when she was days old, and the deepest, darkest drop off a cliff, masked in the dulcet overtures of “the baby blues.”

I’m looking for a cure. I’m looking for ways outside of the longing, the expectation, the absolute loneliness of this diagnosis. But ultimately I want remission. I want to beat my sentence, come out triumphantly, baby in my arms, my heart and family complete.


19 thoughts on “That’s the Plan

  1. This is beautiful and brave and heartbreaking. I am sending you good thoughts and lots of love and hopes that life brings everything your heart desires.

    You are lovely and your family? Perfect.

  2. This brought tears to my eyes. I hear you, brave friend, and your family IS SO perfect. Also, it should be mentioned that YOU are perfect, with all this, without all this. Kapeesh? xoxo

  3. You do have the perfect family! Of course being part of my extended family may make me slightly biased but…. You are doing a wonderful thing by sharing all of this. As moms to often we keep our troubles to ourselves for fear of being labeled a bad mother – in my case multiple miscarriages and an inability to feed my daughter – even from the bottle – without medical intervention. Funnily as soon as you start talking about you meet so many people who have gone through the same things but have never discussed it either. Yay you!!!!

    • Oh, thank you, Catri, for sharing your words. I’m sorry that you had to go through those experiences – I can’t imagine. But you’re right – this process of sharing helps. It’s also scary, but it’s making it less so.


  4. Again your raw and beautiful words leave me breathless. So sorry I didn’t have the chance to hear them in person. You are prefect, your family is perfect and even more importantly, you are true and real and a wise soul. Thank you for sharing this.

  5. Marlena. I love you, your family is perfect and there are no “only” children. There are lots of families and all of them are made up of parts of dreams and parts of reality. Feel how you feel. We are all here for you.

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