Being asked the ‘baby question’ by people you don’t know…

This week, my well-meaning internship supervisor asked if me and my husband planned on having children. Naturally, I was uncomfortable with her very personal (and frankly very sensitive) question. I tried to cut the conversation short by saying, “umm…yeah, maybe.” Clearly she did not sense all of my body language saying, “Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.” Instead, she asked, “Oh, how old are you? How old is he? Well…you two are still young enough and have some time to figure it out. Are you two still on the fence?” Yet again, I mumbled something and I tried to trail off. The not-so funny thing is, is this woman is 42 without any children. I honestly have no clue, nor do I care why she does not have them. I would never ask her why she doesn’t either because it is none of my business. What makes her question so odd is that she has recounted stories of her close friends who have lost babies both through miscarriage and infant illnesses. So you would think that by now she would know it is impolite to not ask random people about their fertility decisions.

Do not get me wrong, she is generally an easy-going person whom I get along with but I could not help but feel this sense of judgement. Even without her knowing my story. Her question dredged up the all-but-forgotten baby discussion between my partner and I. Admittedly, I am true to my zodiac sign, the Capricorn, because I am a slow-moving, methodical thinker that ponders every decision I make which causes my loved ones to become frustrated and annoyed. (I have no clue why…perhaps procrastination…but I have had like a three-week binge of reading about zodiac signs. In February and March I was consumed with personalities. I’m strange like that.)  Decisions become increasingly difficult when they involve the “big” moments in life such as going to college, choosing a major, applying for jobs, and oh…deciding if and/or when to have a baby.

Tack on the fact that we have already had one unplanned pregnancy that resulted in a late-term loss and this I-like-to-plan-out-my-life lady has nearly lost her mind. It is amazing how much better I feel this April compared to last year but the problem is that I am finally starting to regain control of my life. Unsurprisingly, pregnancy and all of its consequences do not lend itself well to that.

I cannot control whether I will be able to conceive a child within a medically reasonable time-frame (in spite of the fact that I do not nor have I ever had any medical conditions that would suggest otherwise.) I cannot control whether I will have a healthy pregnancy although I can try to care for myself as much as possible before and during. I cannot control the outcome of said pregnancy which is perhaps most frightening to me at the moment. I cannot control how I feel about the possibility of another loss. I cannot control how that will affect my relationship especially with someone who is absolutely sure he wants to have at least one child. I cannot control the way he deals with his desire to have a child versus my indecisiveness. I cannot control the exact amount of time, money, and other resources that will have to be dedicated to this hopefully healthy being. I cannot control if the little being turns out to have a few medical issues even though it would feel so damn unfair. Most importantly, I cannot control the fact that I feel guilty for replacing the girl that I thought would be my one and only child, Marième.

It feels wildly unfair that other people don’t have to choke back tears when someone asks for the eighty-millionth time, “Do you have any children?” or “You would make a good mother.” It makes me feel like crud when people remind me that I (allegedly) have SO much time to have children when I clearly couldn’t even have one in my early twenties! I want to punch people who do not understand how emotionally taxing it is for parents in the baby loss community to even get to a place where they can even begin to think about having a child because they are not so sure if the stars will ever align for them.  And honestly, it does not help when your spouse reminds you that trying to hold off on the discussion until at least thirty years of age might not be so practical in our case as I once thought it was.

In spite of this, I have chosen to find meaning and value in my life, regardless of what happens. I do not want to be consumed with my ability or inability to bring another life into this world that I forget to live and appreciate my own.

And if I am so fortunate–that is what I want my child to know.

5 things I am looking forward to this spring/summer

  1. Starting my first “real” job. I am super excited to officially enter the workforce. Sure, I have worked in retail and served as a teaching assistant for university-level courses (along with a variety of other campus positions) but this will be my first ‘adult’ job. In the past, I have expressed my disinterest in pursuing a career in academia so it certainly does not come as a surprise that I cannot wait to get out.  I will not miss the competitive nature of academia even in moments where competition makes absolutely no sense. I will not miss the verbally-abusive, self-absorbed, out-of-touch, and rapidly aging faculty members that hasten the department’s imminent death. I will not miss spending countless hours working on papers that are barely read before being graded and placed atop another stack of professionally irrelevant work. Most of all, I will not miss the low pay for quality services that teaching assistants provide. (Meanwhile faculty members make bogus amounts of coins for classes that really their TA has put together with less time and fewer resources.) But…I digress. I look forward to cultivating new skills and gaining practical work experience in the non-profit world because this sort of environment not only brings me joy but allows me to make meaningful connections with human beings again. Yes, this is the complete opposite of discussing my theoretical framework and research methodology for hours on end.
  2. Moving into a new place. For the past year and a half we have lived in a shabby, dimly-lit 2 bedroom apartment with a landlord who is friendly but clearly gives zero effs about the state of his property. Fortunately we have found a place that is a bit larger, has PLENTY of natural light, and only slightly more expensive. Additionally, there are not any bad memories associated with this place so it will be a nice fresh start for me, my husband, and our dog. We can bond over decorating and making our place a home. Best of all, I finally feel comfortable inviting my family to visit from out-of-state.
  3. Welcoming my sister and nephew. Speaking of family, my sib and her son are coming to visit us in June and I am more than excited. Although life has dealt us an interesting set of cards, our relationship has matured in ways that we could never have anticipated. It will be nice to add new energy into our home for a week and to take them on a tour around our humble, but not-so-bad city.
  4. Visiting the rest of my family in my hometown. Last summer I spent time with my grandfather, adopted grandmother, sister, and nephew. Everyone else I avoided like the plague because….well, my reasons. Anyways, this will be the first time that I am seeing friends and the rest of my family in two years so…[insert a dramatic drumroll] it is long overdue.
  5. Embracing all life has to offer. In the past year, I have really worked on shifting my perspective and becoming a better person in general. Don’t worry–I am still a skeptic. However, I have learned to let life happen and to enjoy every moment of my current reality. I look forward to what this next season has to offer. Cheers to spring and summer 2017!

The stages of letting “it” go…

And when it’s over…truly let it be over.

Do not linger on, waiting for the words that will never be said

Do not linger on, aching for the wounds that might never be healed

You will analyze and at times justify their mistakes

but they are theirs and theirs alone.

It has no bearing on your worthiness.

It has no bearing on your purpose.

Your actions will never change the core of their being.

You may be the most dedicated, empathetic creature

on this Earth

and if they do not respect and appreciate you,

it will amount to nothing.

You will grow to hate yourself for allowing them

to take advantage of your patience,

of your strength,

of your generosity.

And one day you will have enough.

You will hastily grab everything in sight

and throw it in your bag.

Rushing out the door,

determined to no longer beg for love.

But once you reach your destination

and carefully begin to unpack,

you will see bits and pieces from your former life.

And you will cling to them,

because it is all you know.

How can you give that up?

You tell yourself you will throw it away as soon as…

but “as soon as” never arrives.

You stare at these items from time to time,

remembering its place of origin,

remembering the promises said upon receiving them,

remembering the feeling of hope.

And it will be these memories

that you fear losing.

You will hold on as tightly as you can,

even as they slip through your fingertips,

wishing to be set free.

And when this happens,

do not linger on.

Just let it be.