The first time I recall someone asking me when I planned to have a baby, I was in the midst of wedding planning. I replied with a lighthearted wink and a smile: “I think we want to have some fun with each other for a while.”
That was four years ago, and I had no idea the weight that question would one day hold.
This month marks exactly two years since my husband and I officially began “trying.” And, it is inevitable that someone inquires — at least once a week — about the status of my uterus.
People often assume that if you have not been able to conceive within a certain period of time, something must be ‘wrong’ with you. And, it’s often up to the woman to figure out the solution to the problem. So, after a while, you begin to join them — pinning the same assumptions to yourself.
In these last two years, I’ve also learned that people generally either want to give you advice on how to “fix” it, or express how greatly they cannot relate to your misfortune.
Some may suggest the tea you should drink, the food you should avoid, the number of pillows you should stack under your hips — just to name a few. Some may say, “Now the moment you stop thinking about it … ”
Others may say, “Yeah, I got lucky with mine. I guess I’m just a fertile myrtle.”
The first time I met with my doctor for an initial assessment, she told me, “I can already confirm you’re ovulating. Also, your blood work is excellent.”
Still, as the months raced by and my periods continued to make their monthly appearance, I opted to have the extensive tests performed anyway.
Over the past year and a half, I’ve been examined, poked, and prodded with cold objects. I’ve had a catheter inserted into my cervix, and I’ve grown familiar with the prick of quite a few needles. I’ve tracked my cycles tirelessly and I’ve probably urinated on more sticks than I ever had actual tests in college. And, a couple of times when met with that gaping absence of a second line, I wanted to spit into it.
Even though every test has collectively concluded that my body is the ideal environment for housing a healthy, growing baby, and that I ovulate like clockwork, I still have to wear the absence of a developing fetus like The Scarlet Letter — dripping with shame and confined to a puddle of unwarranted questions and hushed whispers.
My heart aches for myself, but even more so for women who have received less hopeful reports.
As of late, I’ve learned to eliminate certain words from my vocabulary.
Once, not long ago, I casually mentioned on Facebook that I was “craving” mango for dessert. I was immediately met with an influx of public comments and brazen messages — from people I do not have an actual friendship with in real life — ranging from (but not limited to): “Craving? Are you trying to tell us something, Lacey?” to “Omg! Are you pregnant?!?!”
I now also take care to never mention that my head or stomach hurts — and I wouldn’t dare to throw the word “nauseous” around.
Over the past two years, I’ve been asked the following questions — mostly from people I only know at arms-length:
“Why don’t you and [and your husband] have kids yet?”
“Do you guys not want kids?”
“Are you guys going to hurry up and have a baby already?”
To which I’ve often wondered, what if I were to respond with any of the following counter-questions?
“Any developments on that weight loss goal you’ve been talking about for two years?”
“Are you ever going to get that promotion you’ve wanted since as long as I’ve known you? Any news on that front?”
Or, perhaps, “Why are you still single … or in debt … or so grossly void of social skills?”
Because it really wouldn’t be any different.
Each are invasive questions; all pertaining to deeply personal and delicate issues which are no one’s business other than the parties directly involved. They all serve to be reminders of that which the one in question has stated they want, but do not yet have.
I realize some people ask innocently, because they sincerely care. However, I also know that some are asking because they are nosey. Many are discussing it because such nature of gossip is interesting. People are often entertained by another’s hardships and unfulfilled longings because it distracts them from their own.
And, I’m not cool with that. My inability to get pregnant — for whatever reason — should not serve as entertainment or comfort for anyone. Because if they are gossiping about it repeatedly, they are indulging in it; They may as well be sliding it on a cracker and washing it down with a glass of champagne.
The truth is: I do not think it is “entitled” of me to want to produce a child in the timeframe that I desire — or even at all.
And while I hope to be granted the honor of growing a child in my womb one day, I do not have the kind of power to determine which point in history is best for that to happen. It is not my responsibility to determine when a certain soul should come to this earth and inhabit a body, or even if my (or my husband’s) genetics are the appropriate genetics to create a body a soul should inhabit.
Something immensely greater than I am is responsible for determining that, and — despite how greatly it hurts — I trust that power far more than I trust my own ego or reasoning.
I also do not feel a shred of jealousy when others become pregnant around me; though (for reasons I honestly don’t understand) people often assume I would be. Another woman’s entrance into motherhood doesn’t take away the possibility of my own, or anyone else’s. In fact, I am thrilled for them. Because in the event that I one day become pregnant myself, I sincerely hope no one standing in my current shoes would be jealous of me.
Still, I have feelings. And, it is gutting every time someone serves to remind me of that which I cannot control; of my utmost unmet desire.
I recently observed a conversation between two women while waiting in line for the bathroom at a concert. It was obvious they hadn’t seen one another in a while. They chatted for a moment about their husbands and upcoming travel plans until one of the women abruptly shifted the conversation by asking the other: “So, when are you going to start popping some babies out, girl?”
I immediately knew: The sudden breaking of her gaze; the uncomfortably forced smile; the stuttering of her vague yet rehearsed response. They all told me that even though we are strangers, we are members of the same lonely club — a club no one wants to be a member of.
In that moment, I wanted to console her. I also wanted to act as her bodyguard — perhaps by thumping her friend on the forehead and offering up a lesson in tact.
I didn’t, though.
I just kept to myself, thinking about how I was certain that — even if only two years into the struggle — I was already maximizing my lifetime reserve of patience in regard to hearing such questions; whether posed to myself or anyone else.
So, on behalf of myself and every other woman standing in a similar pair of shoes, I ask you (with love) — nosey stranger, gossiping former co-worker, and acquaintance with little boundaries:
Please, stop asking us if we are pregnant. Your “harmless” little question may be cutting deeper than you know.