The other day on Facebook, someone posted this meme:
He commented that whichever song is stuck in your head after looking at it tells him a lot about you. I replied “What does it mean if both songs are in my head, mixed together?”
One of our mutual friends, who I don’t know that well, but I thought she knew better than this, replied to me “That means you’re a mom because you can multitask!”
I have to be honest: I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. I couldn’t breathe for a little bit. It hurt.
I’ve always wanted to be a mom. When I was very young, I told everyone that I was going to have twenty (20!) children. They smiled and laughed indulgently.
I was the oldest of eight, and I mothered my siblings to the best of my ability, practicing skills I would one day use for my own children.
I married at 30, and we discussed children and decided we wanted them right away. I didn’t have many years left for safe, healthy pregnancies, and we both wanted two or three children. (Somewhere along the way, that dream for twenty kids changed a bit.)
After a year with no luck, I saw a fertility specialist and began the dehumanizing process of fertility treatments. I took expensive little pills, then went to the clinic for an internal ultrasound. (They shove the wand up inside you. It’s not comfortable. At all.) If they saw evidence of ovulation, then the doctor had specific instructions for me. I can still hear his clearly enunciated words in my head:
“That day, have sex. Then, the next day, have sex. After that, have sex every second day until you menstruate or get pregnant.”
Mark and I hadn’t been married very long at this point, and we usually had sex six or seven times a week, and it was spontaneous and joyful. The doctor’s instructions made it almost mechanical in its planned schedule. At first, I was so excited about simply doing something to get pregnant, the hope was high and I didn’t mind the drudgery of it all. After several months of this with negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test, I started to get tired and discouraged.
I didn’t understand why this was so difficult for me. My mother had eight pregnancies without even trying. Everyone around me was getting pregnant without trying, some of them without wanting to. Babies started to make me cry. I was desperate to see them and to hold them, but couldn’t hold back the tears when I did. I cried in Mark’s arms many nights, trying to understand why this was happening. It was just so unfair.
I prayed, crying out to God like Hannah in the Bible. I truly felt that God answered me, that He told me I would be a mother. I felt at peace.
I stopped the fertility treatments. They were doing nothing but make me miserable. We went back to spontaneous lovemaking whenever we felt like it, but I continued to track my cycles, even taking basal body temperatures so I would know when I was most fertile.
Then, I stopped taking temperatures. I gave up.
I am thirty-nine years old, and I have been married for nine years. We have never tried to prevent pregnancy, and we spent much time and money trying to increase our chances. But I have never been pregnant.
Another time on Facebook, someone posted a meme saying that a “real” woman knows the pain of childbirth. This time, I saw red. I was furious. How dare they with this bullshit?
I replied “I guess I’m not a real woman then. Gee thanks.” They replied to me all apologetically that they hadn’t realized the meme could be taken that way. Are you serious? How can anyone be that stupid? Miss me with your transphobic bullshit.
Mother’s Day hurts. I just want to stay home, and do something mind-numbing so I can avoid yet another reminder of how I’ve failed at being society’s idea of a “real woman.” Also, my mother died five years ago, so there’s that sharpened grief on Mother’s Day as well.