that kind of week
To the pretty young blonde behind me at the health food store toting two small adorable pre-schoolers and about to birth a ginormous basketball, I really don’t want to hear about it.
She was buying two heads of garlic, no doubt to bring on labor, while the older of the two little cherubs tugged on anyone who would listen, “It could be Monday! The doctor said it could be Monday!” Of course others were quick to engage the little girl. “Monday? How exciting! You’ll be a big sister soon!” Again.
“Well, honey, the baby could come sooner than that,” the woman said to the little ones. “It could come this weekend! Would you like the baby to come this weekend?” The little blondes got very excited. “Yes, oh yes!” they cried together.
“The baby could come tonight,” she said. “How would you like for the baby to come tonight?” A little chorus of “yes!” in response. “Oh, but maybe that’s not such a good idea. Mommy doesn’t want to have garlic breath when she kisses the baby for the first time, does she?”
Enough, lady. I get it. Shut the fuck up. Seriously.
I know, it’s awful, I’m horrible. Have I turned into the bitter old infertile? Or is that too much? You may not be the best judges here, I realize.
Why is it that the rest of the world is obsessed with pregnant women and babies? The same mentality that causes people to reach out and assume that a protruding belly is public domain, or that reproduction information and decisions are suitable topics for intrusion, is the same mentality that makes childless infertiles feel as if they are guilty of some pitiable offense. Or is that not them, but me? I think both, actually.
I realize it’s natural to get excited about the birth of some brand new little being entering the world, and that people go ga-ga for all things baby. That act of creation and life-force is so powerful. It’s a beautiful awe-inspiring thing. But the truth is, I lost my tolerance for strangers’ babies long ago.
After I paid for our groceries and got the hell out of there, I kept thinking this thought: if I had been carrying a new baby, how would I have reacted to this woman and her brood? I was confident that I’d be filled with so much happiness to finally be a mom that I’d feel different. I still would have ignored her, but I would not have had the same visceral response (i.e., eyes averted, tightening stomach, thinking get me the fuck out of here now).
To be clear, I certainly don’t expect a baby to “cure” me — I would never put such a heavy weight on any child. But I do believe that motherhood will bring a certain love and depth to my life that will prove a healing force. In my fantasy, it really did not matter to me that the child I’d be holding would have been adopted. It was that I anticipated feeling joyful, when I suppose I am not really feeling that now (aside from certain moments with M).
I do feel differently since we started the adoption process. It has allowed me to feel hope instead of only despair. It has given me something to work towards, something to look forward to. That focus and purpose has brought new clarity and perspective. It keeps me busy. It has changed us in a way that is not yet fully realized, because we are not yet there. We are hopeful for the future, but we still struggle in the present.
Right now, encounters like this one (and the surprise announcement while I was held captive earlier this week) serve to remind me not of what we may have some day — a child, by whatever means — but of what we will never have. These encounters highlight and magnify every loss we are still suffering, including the ones I have accepted (i.e., that we will never have a biological child).
I suppose this is still part of my process. While I mourn what we have lost, I cannot yet find lasting joy in what we may have some day. None of it seems real yet. I had hoped that the excitement we were feeling would last a while longer, at least until the official wait kicks in. It still feels so far away, that day when we may bring home our child. I already find myself alternating between moments of hope and doubt. And I have the sense that this is just going to get harder…