So I’m sitting here in bed with the Husband on a Saturday morning browsing through some of the posts I haven’t read, as I haven’t been on this site since June. And I say to the Husband, “Wow. Looks like a few of the bloggers I was following have gotten pregnant since I stopped reading.” And he says, “Um. That’s great?” His timid and possibly shell-shocked question mark hangs in the air, awaiting sentence. I poke around my insides to see how I feel, take stock of the knee-jerk reaction and what comes after. “Yeah. It is great,” I say. An almost imperceptible sigh of relief floats up from his side of the bed. I don’t blame him.
I mean, let’s be honest here. There is, always, no matter what, a small nuclear explosion of grief, envy and sharp little shards of anger whenever I hear about people getting pregnant. And I also know that the closer someone is to me, the higher the radioactivity of that bomb. I have a lot more grace to spare for the ladies of the blogosphere, whom I have never met and will not observe gliding up and down the halls of my workplace, steering their great bellies like steamships on a calm sea. People I know are definitely more difficult not to hate, if only just a teensy bit, for just a few weak moments.
But ever since giving up, giving in, giving over, I find that I am much less radioactive in general. I have seen the world open before us in glimmering possibility, all the wondrous things we might do now that we have freed ourselves from the dreadful tyranny of the If. It has taken some pointed practice, some occasionally grim-faced and lock-jawed “mindfulness” (code word for “I will sit here and breathe until I no longer feel like screaming in rage at the woman in my office who is pregnant with her 5th child, possibly to replace the 4 that have already been removed by the state for neglect and abuse, and if I can’t keep from screaming then I will at least find an excuse to get out of the room and go bite a pillow in a neighboring office”, roughly translated) to get to this place. Every time I start to slip, start to lose a little of my grace, all I need is the thought of all the marvelous things we might do because we do not have children.
Long trips overseas. Luxury expenditures. Or, conversely, saving money. We haven’t, but we could if we wanted to. Deciding at 8pm to go see a movie at a beer and pizza movie theatre. Having crazy-beast sex whenever we feel like it. Staying in bed all morning, wandering downstairs only when the dog starts to whine for a walk. Shit, the other day when we were talking about me working abroad next year my husband was all like, “Maybe if you find a job you like in Dublin we should just move there.” Cause we CAN. Yes. We. Can. We find ourselves these days looking at each other with a kind of googly-eyed wonder, drunk on possibilities.
We’ve never been here before. Up until about three years ago, while I finished school and slogged through unpaid internships in the third most expensive city in America, we were barely surviving. There were no such things as possibilities. We lived in perpetual deprivation, a constant state of No in which the world felt barren and unforgiving. When we moved to Portland and I finally found people who would pay me to do my job, our lives improved almost instantly. So we started almost instantly to try to have a baby. We had never felt like it would be ok to try. In San Francisco we lived in a 375 square foot studio on the border of two gang territories. In Portland we lived in a small but palatial-to-us duplex in a lovely green bower of a neighborhood where no one got shot, ever. We were finally safe enough to procreate.
And then our lives and our prosperity were dedicated to this heartbreaking journey, fertility treatments, surgeries, miscarriages, loss. We began to creep back into that constant state of No, although for different reasons. This time it was our bodies that felt barren and unforgiving, not the world. Somehow that was worse.
So now here we are in this entirely new space. We have enough, and we’ve redirected the focus of what to do with it. We are once again imagining, building dreams that aren’t ragged at the edges with despair and fear and the cringing opposite of hope. The world feels different.
And children aren’t completely excluded from those dreams. Next week we’re going to an informational meeting for prospective foster parents. We have to go one county north because I know too many caseworkers and foster parents in our county and the county to the south, but we’re going to see where it leads us. I’ve got a lot of thoughts and fears and excitements and bewildering confusion about all that, so I think I need to sit on it a little more before I try to write it out. More on this subject later.
Things are good. There are good days and bad days. I will let you know how I feel the next time someone close to me gets knocked up, which will probably be something like “Fuck You and the Horse You Rode In On”, but maybe not. I’m going to keep living in the possibilities.