You know, when Monte sent me my emotion, I kind of wondered if he was fucking with me, because if there’s one thing I’m always full of, it’s doubt. So the good news was that I had PLENTY of material to work with. The bad news was, of course, that I had just…SO MUCH material to work with.
In the middle of trying to figure this out, my pregnant best friend called me, shouting, “I! Have! Pictures!” See, her first ultrasound was earlier that day, which is pretty cool. Now here’s what you have to understand about Lex – she’s had three miscarriages, and that day, THAT DAY was the first time she had EVER seen a picture of her pregnancy. It looks like an alien tadpole and I swear, it’s adorable. It is!
Now me, I always said that the best thing about kids is giving them back to their parents. For as long as I can remember, I always said I didn’t want kids. Nope. Not me. You know why? Because my mom scared the hell out of me. Oh yeah, man – never a more terrifying five foot four black and white haired woman will you find in your life. One time, she got SO MAD AND FRUSTRATED at me that she shouted, “One day, when you have kids, I hope you have one JUST. LIKE. YOU.”
Well, that stopped me dead in my tracks. I was NOT an easy kid. To say the least. However – there was still a way I could be me and circumvent my mother’s curse: don’t have kids. HA. NYAH. Showed you, mom.
So I grew up, like you do, and started dating, and had a few boyfriends here and there, and my friends started getting married, and then they started having kids, and I was getting older (you know, a whole TWENTY EIGHT, my GOD), but all I was getting was mostly terrible sex. And as much as I would love to deny it, that clock does start ticking. And people start asking questions (like THAT’S OK).
Some more time goes on, and life happens, which results in me getting married – ta-dah! I did it! I didn’t just get married, either – oh no – I married CATHOLIC. And if there is one thing the Catholics understand and science the SHIT out of, it’s conception and how to get you pregnant. I mean, this is kind of embarrassing to admit, but I didn’t fully understand how my own menstrual cycle worked until after I was married AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TAUGHT ME. Crazy, right?
We’d been married a couple of years and my husband, who had been baby crazy from the beginning, really started pushing on having kids. By that time, at heart, I was ambivalent at best – I had always had issues with my period and had suspected since I was a teenager that there was something wrong there, and besides, I had to circumvent my mother, remember? Can’t be cursed with a kid like me if I don’t have kids. Ha, showed you, Mom.
Except this was my husband and I thought this was how marriage worked (I mean, that’s what MY parents did and they made it look so easy), so I went along with it. I was pretty gung-ho for the first couple of months – I went all out with the fertility trackers and basal thermometers and baby community boards, and sex on a schedule (oh yeah, sexy AF, yo), because if I was going to do this, I was going to do it right, with efficiency, and as quickly as possible before I changed my mind. But by the third month, that spectre of, “you know, I always thought something might be wrong” came back and my husband and I started fighting more, and by the fourth month, not only did that thought came back, but I found that I was almost hoping that might be the case because I was starting to have doubts (home life was not improving), and by the fifth month of not conceiving I was REALLY doubting that I wanted to have kids and my husband and I were at some kind of tension about it nearly every day. By the end of the sixth month of not conceiving, we reached an impasse.
I wanted to stop, he wanted to keep going. Now remember, we’re Catholic, so our compromise was: fertility testing, which we both did.
I’ll never forget the day the test results came back. It’s the clearest memory I have of feeling dazed. My doctor called me at work, and we spoke for about five minutes. Afterward, I sat in my bosses’ offices, explained what had just happened, and then went back to work. That night, I didn’t drive home. I went to my parents’ house first.
My mom opened the door.
“Hi! I wasn’t expecting to see you!”
“Oh, I heard from my doctor today. Do you and Dad have a minute?”
We go into the family room, where my dad is perpetually playing solitaire on his phone in the easy chair. “Hiya kid!”
My mom sat on the love seat. I sat on the couch.
“So I heard from my doctor today.”
“Yeah, so he called me today, and funny thing, it turns out I…can’t…have…kids.”
Both of my parents immediately swooped in on either side while I completely broke down and they just hugged me. It was like the end of a 1980s sitcom where everything wraps up perfectly, and that’s when I realized: it wasn’t kids I was doubting, it was my ability to parent. I mean, my parents made that shit look EASY, and I was not an easy kid. Turns out it’s not that I wasn’t ready for a child, it’s that I wasn’t ready for the decision to be made by everyone and everything but me. And in that moment, I had a horrid flash of clarity: I didn’t doubt having kids, I didn’t doubt my ability to parent. But over the course of six months of trying to become a family, I realized that I was with the wrong partner. My parents made it look so easy – they even moved in to hug me at the exact same moment, a tangible expression of their love and understanding. They know their child. They trust each other to do the right thing. And in six months, the person I began to doubt most was the person I married.
You can’t be with someone you can’t trust to be a good parent.
Not that it mattered.
Because I couldn’t have kids.
Luckily, I had one very valuable piece of information: I was definitely with the wrong partner. Now I had to decide to do with that knowledge.
But that’s another story for another time.
(Performed at All The Feels – January 9, 2018)