One of my co-workers had twins in January. And they are beautiful. They were at the Center on Friday, and I got to sit with both of them for a while — more time with the boy than the girl, and all of it a nice, fun, cuddle-a-four-month-old time.
This, which I didn’t say when I wrote last week, is why I was sobbing in the shower. Not because my co-worker has babies but because I still haven’t reconciled my heart to the painful truth that I don’t have one and cannot see any way that I will ever have one.
I keep thinking I’ve come to terms with this. And then I’m holding someone’s baby, or listening to someone talk about their baby, or seeing one of the four hundred thousand pregnant and newly-parenting moms who seem to be everywhere that I am … and I’m kicked in the chest again. I haven’t come to terms with anything. I’ve just papered over the gaping hole in the wall.
Yesterday included one of the things that pleases me the least. I picked up K, the bigger of the twins, and held him on my left side, make the requisite goofy baby noises in his face. Four of my co-workers, including K’s mother, were standing and sitting around me:
K’s Mother: “Oh, Stacie, you look good with him.”
Co-worker 1: “I know, doesn’t she? You look completely comfortable.”
Co-worker 2: “Oh, you’ve got to get one of those, Stacie.”
K’s Mother: “I keep telling her she needs to have one.”
Co-worker 1: “What are you waiting for?”
Co-worker 3: “Stacie, you’re a natural. This is what you were meant to be doing.”
What, exactly, is it that I’m meant to be doing? Holding some other woman’s baby so that you can all remind me that I don’t have one? What am I waiting for? Um … a functional reproductive system, actually. Oh, I should go out and ‘get one’ for myself? And how do you suggest I do that? Do you have a coupon for the baby store? Can I win one at Bingo? Or maybe I should just walk away with K.
My co-workers aren’t trying to be mean. Of course not. But they are also not stupid. They know I’m single; they know I’m one of the oldest women working in the building. If I don’t have a baby at this point, it has to be fairly certain that I’m not in a position to run out and have one … or even just go and ‘get’ one.
I don’t really know what the point of any of the things they said might be. Any time I hold a baby — no matter how much that baby could never be mine (White babies? Asian babies? I get the same response.) — someone has to tell me how ‘natural’ I look. As if childless people couldn’t possibly have a clue how what to do with a child. As if our first instinct would be to hold the baby up by the heels or some such stupid thing. But not me. No, I look ‘natural’ holding a baby. Yes, thank you. It’s good to know that I don’t seem like some kind of monster who should never be around infants. If only I had the kind of body that enabled me to produce an infant. Unfortunately, successful pregnancy is about more than the photo op.
And I don’t really know what my point is, either. Just that it hurts to have people say those things to me. And it’s hard to bite my tongue when what I really want to do is tell them to shut the fuck up, to not be so insensitive. If I wanted to have a child and could have a child, I’d have one. If I wanted to have a child and don’t have one, how unpleasant do you think it might be for me to have you telling me — every single time you see me holding a baby — that I ought to have one of my own? If I didn’t want to have a child, how annoying do you think it might be for me to have you telling me that I’ve made the wrong decision and I really should have one?
Yes, I wrote once before about considering adoption, about starting that thought process again. I haven’t set it aside. Not exactly, but every day I feel like I’m moving a little further away from that possibility. There are so many pieces to put into place before I could be looked at as any kind of halfway good option, and every time I think I’ve begun to figure out one piece, a mountain of other things start piling up in the wings. I’ve been following Erika and Jenn’s process, so happy and excited for them, so much more clear how far behind them I am in anything that could be called a process on my end.
So what am I saying? That I’m going to keep holding other people’s babies and playing with other people’s kids because I love babies and I love kids … I just don’t want people telling me how I ought to have a kid of my own because eventually that will get ugly. Maybe one day I’ll a) be further along in this process and feeling more optimistic about a positive outcome or b) finally be at peace with the fact that I’m not going to have or get a child, and I’ll have found a way to rework the picture of myself that’s been in my heart since childhood.
(Given how hard writing this post has made me cry, that last is a long way off.)