Most people don’t know this but, Ken and I made the decision to have Oliver at a 24 hour laundromat.
When I was in my twenties, the only thing I could think about was having a baby. I wanted one desperately and couldn’t wait to meet the right guy, get married and start my family. I met the right guy when I was 24 and we got married when I was 30. Around the same time I had given up pursuing acting for good and returned to school to study Applied Theatre at CUNY and made a career shift to teaching artistry. My urges for a sweet cuddly baby suddenly switched to urges for jobs with aging populations, immigrants and young women, to name a few. I was focused more on my career than a growing family and was unsure of how a new person that I would have to grow in my body fit into the mix.
Then, as Ken and I were folding t-shirts, he said to me, “So, are we going to have a baby?” “I don’t know. What do you think?” He replied, “You know how I feel. I can go either way. But if we are going to do it, we need to do it now. We can’t wait much longer.” He was right. So that night, over a pile of unfolded clothes, Ken and I decided that we would “not, not try” for a baby and whatever happened, happened. What happened was, three months later, I was pregnant.
When most people who are trying or, “not, not trying” for a baby find out that they are with child, they scream, they jump for joy or cry. I, on the other hand, stopped breathing and nearly passed out. I was scared and in shock. To deal with the stress. I went to a kickboxing class. Why I thought this was a good idea, I’m not sure but it’s what I did. And this reaction scared me even more because, for someone who always wanted a baby, why was I feeling this way? Why was I suddenly having an, “Oh, shit!” moment?
This didn’t last, of course. All I had to do was hear the heartbeat and I was all in. Nine months couldn’t come fast enough. I couldn’t wait to meet my little guy and it turned out to be the best thing that has ever happened to me. He is the greatest thing I have ever done and continue to do.
It seems that lately, everyone is getting pregnant again. Mothers who were pregnant at the same time as me, people I knew from my past, old friends, acquaintances. I know this because of facebook. It seems every few days there’s a photo of a newly swollen belly, a small white figure floating in a sea of blackness, all head, skinny limbs, a toddler wearing a shirt that says, “big brother” or “big sister” and smiling at the camera, not sure why they are really smiling but, does that matter?
I am not feeling angry or bitter about this. I think that sometimes women with fertility issues (very understandably) can be very angry when other women get pregnant and are able to grow their family. It’s a hard pill to swallow. That is not the case here. I am so happy for everyone who is newly pregnant, about to give birth or already has. Excited for them, in fact! At the same time, I am also sad for myself. I still don’t understand why this choice had to be taken away from me? From us?
Why is the discussion between me and Ken not, “should we try again?” Why is it, “should we take out a loan for surrogacy instead of saving for a home for the family we already have?” “Should I try to have a child naturally despite the fact that my eggs have most likely been murdered by chemotherapy?” “Should I not take the tamoxifen, that will prevent a new cancer from growing, just so I can try for another? Putting my existing family at risk?” Why are these the questions I have to ask? Why can’t I just do?
I am not the first nor will I be the last to ask these questions. But sometimes that doesn’t matter. Sometimes I get to be sad for myself.
I am sad.