See, a friend has received a great blessing. She's so happy, and excited.
On the surface, I am gracious and happy for my friend. But inside? Inside, I look like every monster from every 1950s B-movie horror show. I have fangs and scales and bulging eyes and bad, bad breath. I'm ugly.
|I look like this. But worse. Definitely with more nose hair.|
My friend is pregnant.
Now, in the land of Childless and Going With It, you aren't supposed to feel feelings when someone else has a baby. If you didn't spend a gajillion dollars on IVF until it took, or you didn't pursue every avenue of adoption until your house was filled with 27 kids, well, you just didn't want parenthood bad enough. You didn't earn the right to grieve.
But I'm still here. And I'm still grieving. And I feel horrible for feeling so ugly about my friend's good news.
She will be an amazing mother. I truly wish her and her lucky little baby every joy and blessing. I can't wait to smell that baby's head, because baby heads are the best.
But it also makes me sad.
Why wasn't it me?
Why am I one of three childless women I know in, like, the whole world? Why does this still hurt? Why do I feel like a defective typewriter?
I was never one of those women whose lives would be meaningless without kids. Longtime readers know that there was a time when I was pretty actively in the "Oh, hell no" camp when it came to children. But people change, and situations change, and I fell in love and I wanted to have a family with this amazing man. It just didn't turn out quite the way we planned.
Our line in the infertility sand was no treatments that would increase my breast cancer risk. With my family history, this precaution wasn't just lip service - it was necessary. So, our treatment options were limited.
As for adoption? My parents offered to help financially. It felt very "How much for zee little gurl?" But it didn't feel right. My husband and I tabled adoption talk until we could right our emotional ships. And then it just never felt like the right time to pursue adoption. And then we realized it wasn't right for us at all. We will contribute to the world in other ways.
And so, here we are.
We make grandiose proclamations like, "Since we don't have to put anyone through college, we should go on fabulous vacations!" And yet, we can't agree on where to go. We set up college funds for our nieces and nephews, and go back to the same beachfront hotel year after year. And year after year, I am troubled by seeing the same poolside waiter, and I wonder if he has any retirement savings at all. I am redirecting my maternal instincts.
This is life. This is our life.
We've made peace with a world where we don't have kids. When a teacher pal mentioned a high school student who was pregnant and half-joked that she'd get the girl to give us her baby, I wasn't filled with hope. I was filled with panic, and with dread at the thought of having to say, "That's not our baby. No."
Because we don't have a baby. We won't. I had to shut that door because I couldn't move forward while still contemplating the "maybe." I had to say "no" for my own emotional survival, and to grow.
I get tired of friends and random people who can't talk about anything but kids, or who assume that everyone has kids, or who give me the sad head tilt of infertility empathy. If you really want to be empathetic, talk about something besides your kid. Also, buy me a drink. Because no 4-year-old is going to wake me up at 5 a.m. and I can sleep it off.
But if you really want to be kind? Please don't judge me too harshly. When I cry at a friend's good news and may or may not be successful in playing it off as happy tears? Let it go. Play along. Later, act like you can't tell I just sobbed in the ladies' room.
I'm happy for my friend. I can't wait to smell that downy baby noggin. But it's all just a bit much.