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:
“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.