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Ok, I’m not promising a well-written or even a coherent post here. I’m just dealing with a lot right now and have nowhere – other than my super supportive Twitter community, that is – to go with this. I just got off the phone with my sister, who after prefacing with “I need to tell you something, but don’t get mad, ok?” told me that she got pregnant around last Thanksgiving and had an abortion. She slept with some random guy she went out with just a couple of times, they used a condom, but it slipped off. She had an abortion at seven weeks.
I know she was afraid to tell me because she was worried about hurting me. Hell, she kept that awful experience to herself for 6 months. She was waiting until things with my baby looked good before sharing it with me, and said how relieved she felt to finally tell me about it. It helped me hugely that she said she was angry at the irony of it all. I was able to tell her I was sorry she had to go through that, that she shouldn’t beat herself up for it because it could happen to anyone (well, not to me, clearly), and that I wished I could have been there for her. She didn’t have the money at the time for the abortion and her friend paid for it. Because she felt bad about taking the money, she didn’t want to add on the extra $150 to be put under. She said she also felt like she deserved the pain for getting herself in that situation. My poor scarred, alone, stoic sister.
But I still have to say, “What the fuck kind of twisted sense of humor do you have, Universe (or whoever the fuck)?” My sister is 35, has smoked like a chimney for years, done tons of drugs, NEVER WANTS KIDS, and actually didn’t really think she COULD get pregnant because of an infection she got after surgery on her cervix years ago. And she got pregnant after one random fuck????!!!!! I had my eggs harvested FOUR TIMES, carefully injected with the best looking sperm in a petri dish, delicately placed back into a cushy lining and STILL no pregnancy.
Of course, hearing this unexpected news is like ripping a scab off a deep wound. I have really, truly come to terms with using donor eggs to get pregnant – as much as anyone can, I think. No one CHOOSES that over using your own eggs, after all. I adore my baby already and know he’ll be all mine, but for a moment it seems like it SHOULD be possible for me to have my own biological child, because SHE can. I can’t help but wonder, what happened to fuck up MY body? Why does hers work and not mine? It is how it is, though, right? I have a dimpled chin and freckles while my sister doesn’t. I’m left-handed and my sister isn’t. Hell, I have two cystic fibrosis mutations and my sister doesn’t. My sister has regular periods and I don’t. My sister can get pregnant with her own eggs and I can’t. So there you go. Let it go.
I’m so unbelievably, completely depleted. DH is back in Louisiana, waiting with his family in the hospital for his mother to pass on. He needs me to be doing well and to be strong for him, so when he called I pretended I was fine, of course. I just feel so alone. This all is so fucked up. I know that’s not the most articulate thing to say, but that’s how I feel. I want to just be happy and thankful and to relish with my husband the fact that I have a healthy baby boy wriggling around inside me. It just seems like every day now something huge and overwhelming pops up to distract from that. Not just your normal everyday stresses, either. Big, ugly drain-you-of-everything-you’ve-got stresses.
I’m meeting with a woman this evening who might be my doula (shit, in an hour – I’d better shower and do something with my tear-blotched face). Hopefully, that will help me focus on all that I have to be thankful for, so I can forget all that isn’t fair and all that might or should or could have been if things were just a little different. Please let me just be able to focus on my baby-to-be for awhile. Just let me focus on being blissfully pregnant, like I’ve dreamed of being for so many years. I fucking deserve that you mother fucking asshole sadist Universe fucker!
Yesterday, I picked J up from work to go to our 19 week anatomy scan. I was nervous and excited. It felt like we were practically going to meet our baby. As we drove to the hospital I casually asked him if he had talked to anyone while at work. He mentioned that he spoke to his dad, and that his mother had been taken off her ventilator a couple of hours ago (J’s mother has severe MS and has recently become seriously ill with infection and has been in the ICU). I said that was a good sign. I thought it was encouraging that she had been breathing on her own for two hours. I thought that meant she had improved. Of course, I didn’t have all the information. J abruptly told me that if something went wrong they weren’t going to put her back on the ventilator. All this on the way to meeting our long-struggled-for baby.
I was hit by a wave of the most child-like, petulant emotions: “Why can’t I just have this one day of excitement and joy? Why did J have to bring it up right then? Couldn’t it wait an hour or two? Why did the universe have to make his mother seriously ill right NOW? Why!!?? J is supposed to be able to be focused on and excited about his baby now, not consumed by other things. It’s just not faaaaaaiiirrrrrr! Can’t I have just ONE special day in my life the way it’s supposed to be?” I try hard to tell myself that nothing is storybook perfect or protected from hurt/death/loss, and that I just have to accept the complicated mess of it all. This is what life is really about – joy and pain mixed together into a precious but SUPER uncomfortable concoction. I know in my deepest core that that’s true. And I try to my best to shove those angry emotions away so I can show support to J. He’s grappling with the possibility of losing his mother, and I absolutely can’t leave him alone there. Not surprisingly, I get a lot quieter; there are a lot of emotions too unhelpful to be expressed.
We see the baby. Reassuringly, he’s (it’s a boy!) moving around a lot, looks incredibly beautiful, and all his parts seem intact. Phew. Just like anyone else who’s survived IF, I don’t take any of that for granted, and am relieved and grateful. The sonographer gives me photos of my baby, and I can’t stop looking at his face. I’m in love with him already and immediately start imagining the little guy in our lives.
When we get home that evening, J mostly talks about being excited about the baby. He shared at work that we were having a boy. I think sharing the news and being congratulated helped make it all seem more real for him. We relax at home, and I start browsing online (I want to make sure my plans for the nursery are relatively gender appropriate). J sits next to me and calls his father on the phone. I look over at him at one point and can’t tell if he’s laughing or crying. You see, he was doing such a good job at trying to focus on the baby, he lulled me into thinking things were ok – at least for awhile. I’ll never, ever forget seeing him silently cry like that. When he gets off the phone he explains that she’s still there, but it’s only a matter of time now. She could go tomorrow or a week from now. I just can’t believe he’s really going to lose the mother who’s so precious to him and I wish SO FIERCELY that I could take away his pain. We try to focus on how much she wanted this baby for us, and how incredibly happy it made her to hear that I was finally pregnant.
Not surprisingly, I don’t sleep well, so here I am, writing this post at 4 in the morning.
Meanwhile, I have a lot of complicated emotions about having a boy (yes, I did buy myself a bunch of mini lemon bundt cakes to shove in my mouth after dropping J back at work). Again, it seems like there’s no space to express these emotions, so I hope I can work through them safely here. I just need to figure out what they’re all about. I think I always imagined as I was growing up that I would have a girl. I’m sure it’s not uncommon to imagine a “mini-me” or what’s familiar when you imagine a future child. And I’m not exactly a tomboy. I once went to a superhero-themed costume party as Super Femme, after all. Frankly, for awhile there, I didn’t imagine any husband. I’d just picture me and my daughter. No doubt that’s largely because of the fucked up (excuse the language, but it’s true) dynamic in my family. I had a (I know now) pretty dysfunctional relationship with my mother. We were super close, she relied on and confided in me much too much, causing me to become estranged from my father. Sounds healthy, right? In teasing out my feelings about having a boy, I realized I was worried about being left out – my son and husband would go off doing guy-like things and I’d be left alone. I’m sure much of that fear comes from the fact that I have my own parent-child relationships as models. I don’t want to repeat what I had, though. I’m not going to be giving birth to a new best friend – a ready-made shopping partner who’ll share my hobbies and listen to all my woes. No doubt, whether a boy or girl, my child would share some of my interests and we’d have countless amazing times together. But my mother used me to fill a gap where her own interests and friends – and frankly, an actual partnership with my father – should have been. I don’t want my child to have to do that.
My personal experience with boys is limited. I have one younger sister and no male cousins I was close to. But friends of mine have a boy, Nathan, who I’ve known and loved for ten years now – from three to thirteen. When he was little, he’d put on “Singing in the Rain” inspired tap-dance routines for us. Recently, in preparation for his Bar Mitzvah, he decided to live on a $5/day food allowance for two weeks so he could better understand first-hand what it’s like to be hungry. He’s a sweet, sensitive, super smart person I’m very proud to know.
I shared some of my irrational fears with J – that I’d be left alone while the two of them go on snowboarding trips and off peeing in the woods. He talked about how much our boy would adore me. How, when he was older, it’d be hard for him to find a girl as good as his mother. How he’d miss his mother horribly when he went off to college. And I knew as he said all this, he was talking about his own mother. I watched J with her in the hospital. I saw him gently stroke her hair and wash her face. I have – oh so vividly in front of me – an example of how tenderly a son can love his mother.
These two things happening at the same time are teaching me – yet again – that truth the perfectionist-planner-control-freak in me wants to ignore and deny – that when life doesn’t look like what glossy bridal/baby magazines show us – that’s when it’s the most heartbreakingly beautiful.
I can feel my little baby boy wriggling around inside me.