A former coworker, who upon meeting for the first time, asked both my age and if I had children. I was 35, and no, “not yet.” She then pressed her hand into mine, looked me square in the eye, and said, “Well, don’t you worry. Older women have babies all the time.”
It was in that moment I began to despise her. This dislike would grow like cancerous mold during the next few years. She saw what I didn’t want to discuss, my most vulnerable spot, and poked at it.
I saw her again just last week. We no longer work together. The first words out of her unpolished mouth were, “Oh, no baby bump yet? Well, keep trying!” No longer bound to the rules of the workplace, I replied, “I don’t miss that.” I swallowed the less kind words that also came to mind.
My close friends and family know I’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while. There have been doctor appointments, one minor but very expensive surgery, and countless ovulation tests. There is still no baby. My mother, girlfriends, and anyone else who sees the exhausted anguish on my face, regularly reassure me, “Don’t worry. It will happen.”
Will it? Can we for a moment talk about the fact that it might not, and that this reality will have to be okay, too? My husband has adult children, and one turning 16 next week. He is not interested in adoption or fostering, even though I’ve long wanted to go this route. Either this pregnancy thing happens, or we move on as a married couple without children together.
And that will have to be okay.
The reason I’m sharing my frustration is multifaceted. I’m tired of having people pat my hand, especially friends with children. Sure, tell me again how it will happen because it happened for you. That isn’t the way biology works. I’m also tired of having relative strangers say things like, “Oh, so you didn’t want children?” or worse, “Well, you’d better hurry!” when they hear I’m married and don’t have kids. I’m certain I said these sorts of stupid comments when I was younger and without understanding of how terrible they were.
I’ve wanted to be a mom since I was given my first baby doll. I have no regrets that this didn’t come to be before I met my husband. I love my stepchildren, and yes—I am fortunate to have them in my lives, but again: do not reassure me that “at least I have them.” They have a mother who they adore. I do not fill that role. And also, they aren’t ever to be put in the “at least” category.
My advice is this: if you have a woman in your life who is trying to get pregnant, ask her if she wants to talk about it. Let her vent, if she wants to. And if she doesn’t, let her be. Try your hardest not to put your story on her if she doesn’t ask for advice. If she doesn’t want to attend your baby shower, or hold your baby, understand it has nothing to do with you.
There is also the superstition that a woman trying to get pregnant, or newly pregnant, shouldn’t talk about it. That’s crap. Her words aren’t going to make it be anything other than it is, but the chance to speak about what she is feeling very well may be her saving grace.
I’ve never felt more emotionally fragile, or wanted something more. Thank you for handling me, and others in my spot, with care.