I have that song stuck in my head, and I don’t even like Bob Marley. But I’ve been surprising myself today with the thought that maybe, just maybe, I’m going to turn out just fine.
First, I was at work, cashiering next to a guy who has a 22-month-old son, and is pretty much obsessed with babies and small children. Every time a customer coming through my line had a kid, he’d stop what he was doing, turn around, and all but touch the baby. The final straw was when I overheard a conversation he was having with one of his customers, and the customer was bragging about how she’s better at calming/taking care of her god-daughter than the little girl’s own grandparents are, because she’s not afraid of babies, and apparently these grandparents are.
I know that babies are like dogs and bees, in that they can smell fear. I’ve actually worried on multiple occasions whether pregnant women have the same sixth sense (until a friend reassured me that pregnant women are too obsessed with themselves and their future children to worry about what the people around them are feeling). And I’m not really a natural with babies and small children; I do okay with the ones I know, but overall… not so much. And it concerns me, that I might wind up being a shitty mother because I lack this natural way with children.*
Later, though, I was stocking wine with another guy, whose wife happens to be pregnant with their first child. We were the only two in the aisle, when in walks this kid – probably about 10 years old, and at least three times as wide as I am.
“Finally!” the kid called down the aisle. “I’ve been looking for one of you guys so I could tell you a joke. Because that’s what I do every time I’m in here. It’s my thing.”
My coworker didn’t even look up from his case of wine. I turned to the kid. “Okay, shoot,” I said.
I thought for a second. I like to guess knock-knock jokes. “Irish stew who?”
“Irish stew in the name of the law,” the kid said, deadpan.
I told him I liked it (I did) and got back to work. Then another kid came looking for the first kid, and they walked away.
My coworker then admitted the kid had scared him. I’m guessing it’s because he was fat, and confident, and loud. And then I realized, the kid did not scare me. And I thought, if I can find it in my heart to humor a boisterous fat kid wanting to tell a store employee a knock-knock joke, then I’ll be just fine with my own kids, who will probably be more like me, anyway: skinny, and shy.
I came home, logged into my email, and immediately got accosted on chat by my pregnant friend Beth.
“I have a question for you,” she said after making small-talk for a few minutes. “Baby shower: you want an invite, right? Or no?”
“Yes,” I said immediately.
Then I realized I’d just asked to be invited to a baby shower.
Then I realized I meant it.
Then I added, “But I have to see you before the shower, so I don’t get smacked in the face with pregnancy and cooing women.” (Like I mentioned the other day, I haven’t seen Beth since she told me she was pregnant.)
“Well yes,” she said. “That would be good.”
So we made plans for dessert next week.
And then I got the best email ever, from this most amazing woman.
I’ve been thinking a lot about something that keeps on coming up in your posts, our emails, and everything really.
It’s the fact that you want a baby now, but are stopping yourself from going for it.
I’m about to go on a blunt rant here – so please bear with me:
Before my first miscarriage, I wanted to be a mom. I mean, of course I did. But after my first miscarriage?
It became a complete obsession. I wanted another pregnancy NOW. I wanted to have it fixed NOW. I wanted all the answers and everything NOW.
The second the universe told me – “you can’t have this”, every fiber of my being said to me: screw you universe! I will have it and I will have it NOW!
I was thinking to myself this week – “what if I go into the next pregnancy as if I didn’t have a miscarriage?”
I know it’s a bit of a fantasy scenario, because i did. I had two of them, and now I know what I know. But – what if I tried?
And it got me thinking about you. Say you didn’t have that miscarriage. How happy would you be with your life right now? How would your life be different?
I can tell you one thing for sure: You wouldn’t be wanting a baby this badly.
I know that hearing that from anybody else would probably make you want to choke that person. But this is coming from me. I’ve been there. Twice. I know what you’ve been through.
I know you’re nearing the end of your “project”. And I think that one of the bad things about you being a part of our community is that you are so exposed to the fear and the problems.
I think that in terms of where you are in your life, thinking about those problems is what may be making you think about how badly you want a child – in terms kind of like mine: if there are hardships ahead, I want to get them over with.
But guess what? You’re in a different place! you’re lucky!
For example, you have people like me, who get to be your guinea pigs, and go to endocrinologists and tell you what kind of tests they’re going through and all that good stuff.
You’ve got time. Time to get to know your body, to gain as much information as you possibly can.
You’ve got more of a support system in place than anybody I know has ever had in your specific position.
So I think you’re going to be fine.
I’m not trying to downplay your PTSD, but I think it may be aggravated by that need you have to have another baby.
And I know this can’t be easy to do, but you do have the luxury of letting yourself just “be.” right now.
I know you’re already making an effort to do that on a lot of levels. But think of it this way: if not for that miscarriage you would not be wanting a baby right now. You would be totally happy for that 2012 date.
That’s your luxury. I’m screwed for example, because I live in a country, where if I’m not preggo by the time I’ve been married for 6 months I start getting grilled by strangers about it. As a married woman, I have a hell of a lot more pressure, and I feel the lack of a child much more strongly.
Again, not to downplay your feelings. But your circumstances allow you to, at least outwardly, live free of that expectation.
You’re not there yet. You still have time before “society” or “they” or whatever expect you to have a kid. You still have time to live without that pressure. For fuck’s sake, embrace that!
Embrace it and be grateful that your past experience will make you starting a family something that comes with the knowledge and maturity that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Embrace it and be thankful that it colors your big life decisions, like whether you should stick close to your family or move away. Because if you hadn’t have had that experience, your decisions would probably be far more rash, immature, and regretted later in your life.
Embrace it and look at how much stronger it has made you and Doug.
I know what I’m saying here isn’t news to you. And I know it’s easier said than done. But just think about it: Think about how much wiser you are. Think about the fact that if it weren’t for your loss, you would be happy exactly where you are.
And maybe – just maybe – try to reconcile the two into a much happier “now”.
My favorite part was that she was concerned that it might be too blunt. I actually had to pause at the line, “I know that hearing that from anybody else would probably make you want to choke that person,” because I couldn’t understand what I was supposed to find offensive. As far as I’m concerned, this is the best cheerleading I’ve gotten in the past three years – maybe the best cheerleading I’ve gotten in my entire life.
And now I’ve got a bunch of friends over for dinner.
Yeah, I think this life is gonna be okay.
*Dawn has told me that she used to have the same concerns – and apparently so did her husband. When Andrew was a baby, Joe once admitted to Dawn that she was actually “a much better mother than [he] thought she would be.” This gives me hope.