Baby Food Puree:
1 cup poached carrots
½ cup plain apple sauce
1 dollop of promises and expectations
Salt, salt tears and screams of frustration
Combine all ingredients: know that there will be more salt, and food may come out bitter. Blend it all together until everything feels thoroughly shredded. Not to worry: even if you followed these directions perfectly, the outcome will most likely be devastating disappointment.
It has been a long year.
An excruciatingly long and disappointing year.
To begin: I have been trying to become pregnant. My spouse and I finally purchased our first home, and we had the space and ability to even begin thinking in that direction. And we were thrilled! We were excited! We were told that as two young people in good health, this should be no problem, baby within the year!
It’s been a year, and I have lost more than one pregnancy that should have been my baby.
When you teach, you see so much of what the world is like for so many children. We thought “we would love to have a child, so that we could show that child love.” My daily job is to show kids love; I can’t take care of them when I go home to protect them from the awful loneliness or isolation that many of them feel at home. Or the outright abuse. And I am so fucking bitter and hurt because I desperately want to have a child, and I want that child to know how wanted they are.
Tomorrow, I go back to school from the Thanksgiving break after having had a miscarriage. It happened the Friday after Thanksgiving day, with no warning. Earlier in the week, I had cried and mourned because after finding out I was pregnant, I ended up sick from whatever had been floating around the school: high fevers and vomiting. I was convinced that I had lost that little bundle of cells that was gearing up before it could be anything bigger. My ob-gyn called in for a blood test, and if hormone levels were to be believed, I was further along than expected. I was elated. At night, I had dreams about them. I would put my hand against my stomach and whisper to them how much they were wanted, how much they were valued.
Then, on Friday morning, I woke up bleeding.
Stuck in an Air B&B with my husband’s family just down the hall, and nowhere near home or my doctor, I was losing clots and hope that this could be implantation! Maybe this wasn’t the end!
I’m told that denial is a step in the grief process. Bargaining, too.
I don’t think that I have gone a day this year without one of those steps becoming the next: I step through the movements of grief so often, it’s become more of a samba than a linear progress at this point.
Before I could hold a little hand, hold an ultrasound or a tiny little person, I was holding a clump of bloody toilet paper, the door so thin to that bathroom that I had to cry into my arm while listening to my baby niece giggling and playing just outside the door.
I was in hell. I was in hell in a stranger’s second summer home in a bathroom that was rife with 90s decor and a flocked shower curtain. I couldn’t wail, I couldn’t cry too loudly and in half an hour, I was supposed to go out there and talk with everyone like nothing ever happened, like my heart wasn’t broken.
They don’t tell you, immediately, how often an early pregnancy ends in a miscarriage. All you get to see are the happy couples smiling and talking about how easy it was, how they weren’t even trying, and oh wow! Here it is! Or you hear the reverse: people who are pregnant and talking about how difficult it is to deal with pregnancy and how they hate how fat they have gotten.
I have heard so much well-meaning bullshit.
“It will happen! Maybe just not in your time!”
“Maybe you should just try for adoption. It’s a little selfish saying you want kids if you keep trying and nothing happens.”
“You know, I tried for 5 years, so you have no right to feel bad!”
“Just be gentle with your body! Have you tried X or Y or Z?”
Bitch, of course I have tried that. Or course I have thought about adoption. Of course of course of fucking course.
I am a goddamn expert at peeing into cups and reading lines. Ovulation tests? Old hat. Intrauterine ultrasound? Passe. If there is some kind of invasive, painful or downright demeaning test, all bets are I’ve taken it.
“You know, it’s usually the female genitals that are the problem in the attempt at conceiving”
Well fuck you. You don’t think I haven’t berated my body enough? Should I lie prostrate and flagellate to accommodate that truly impressive and unhelpful diagnosis? I have anxiety and an eating disorder: you can’t hate me more than my broken dopamine receptors and body dysmorphia already do. Wrong move. Try again. My brain is a constant somersaulting loop of “what did I do wrong?” “How did I fuck up?” “What kind of karmic harm have I instilled on the universe to keep having the shittiest of luck?” You want to play the blame game? Trust me, compadre, I am way ahead of you.
“Just don’t think about it!”
Ah yes, so helpful. And probably the advice of a man, because conception, as I have learned, is a tricky process of scientific and literal “fuck around and find out.” I’m told to monitor my cycle, test my basal temperature, watch for my fluctuations in vaginal secretions: if you don’t copulate at the exact alignment of the proper celestial murmurings, it doesn’t happen at all. “Don’t think about it”. That’s just about as useful as telling a person dying of thirst in the desert the same goddamn thing.
“Well, you will just have to try again.”
I am honestly not sure how many “agains” I have in me anymore.
The first happened last year at school, on my 20 minute lunch break.
My period was late and I was hopeful: I’m about as regular as they come, so this was a happening of thrilling proportions.
I sat down to pee, and my heart migrated to my stomach.
Blood. Lots and lots of blood. I sat there in the staff bathroom, bawling my eyes out and alone, pants around my ankles, knowing that in 10 minutes, I would have to go and face a group of rowdy 10th graders with composure, as if I hadn’t just literally flushed my hopes down the drain.
I know, I know that my experience is not unique. That pregnant people lose their pregnancies all the time. But If I have to hear that one more time like it’s any sort of consolation, I will absolutely lose my mind. I’m part of a statistic, and community of people that have tried and lost and tried and lost again, but I never get to hear their voices, never get to know what their stories are because we can’t talk about the ugly sides of things in the world of vulvas and uteruses. It has to be the pretty picture, or nothing at all, because of course even in this there is some kind of beauty standard.
It isn’t beautiful. It hurts.
And tomorrow, I have to walk into that room of children, listen to teachers that tell me “mothers are supposed to be teachers; people without children could never understand” and pretend that everything is just fine, because it’s socially approved to beat the living shit out of people saying incredibly thoughtless and insensitive things.
I am tired. And I am tired of hurting. And tired of not being allowed to be wounded.