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 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.