After a drought of wedding and baby announcements, life is back at it again. (I call it Wave 3.) With a wedding on Sunday July 3rd, one in December and another one in April/May and three pregnancy announcements, my social calendar is filling up with events and a bit of anxiety. However, unlike before, this anxiety comes from a place of apprehension, not loss and grief. Things are changing fast and this time around it is for the best. After Wave’s 2 and 1 of announcements I think the lesson has been very clear: Motherhood is not the cards for me, yet, and I must find something else to fill that void. I am destined for other things.
This experience has taught me that regardless of what society and religion states being a woman is more than being a mom and wife. My gender identity isn’t based on my ability to procreate alone. Being female doesn’t exclude concentrating on what makes me happy instead of caring for everyone else first. My human experience doesn’t depend or hinge on having children. Why do these announcements cause me so much grief then? Because I’ve always wanted to be normal.
From the time I was five years old I knew I was different, that my path went through the roads less traveled. My parents weren’t married, my mom had a career, my sister wasn’t even born until the late 80s so I grew up as an only child, which was a rarity back then. When I was a pre-teen I didn’t care about boys or make up but loved sports and being captain of my school teams. I collected trophies and video games. As a teenager, I recall wishing I had been irresponsible like the people who got drunk at parties and didn’t care about what was going to happen to them because their friends got their back. I was always vigilant, taking care of people and helping them achieve their goals. My idea of a five year plan was to graduate from engineering and get a cool job manufacturing products that changed the future. My heart was always in the sky and space beyond. There was more for me than this provincial life. My lifelong ambition is to rule the world or make millions. He he.
But wait Mrs. Enginerd, wasn’t getting married and having kids part of the plan? You didn’t mention that! Truth be told “it” became a part of the plan out of my husband’s and my necessity to do “the right thing”. As unplanned children born out of wedlock (in his case it resulted in his parents’ shotgun wedding), we wanted to wait until we were married to afford the luxury of our children not being bastards or unplanned, technically speaking. Jon Snow has made the term cool again but we didn’t know then this was going to turn into a cool or acceptable thing. We were raised old school, like many of our friends, which is why we are knee deep in wedding and baby shower invitations. Granted, we won’t be invited to a few of these new showers because the huge group of peers we had here has fragmented into little cells. If we aren’t a part of their immediate crew, we will be passed on which is not a bad thing. It is what it is. 😀
These announcements would have turned me into the Hulk if this was early 2o15. (See Layoff section.) I hated with a passion knowing that every day people were getting happy endings. Little old me over here had to be content with traveling, and rolling her eyes whenever someone made a passive-aggressive comment that I had it easy. I grew tired of replying “we lost a child and can’t have kids naturally without medical intervention” when people asked us about our turn at the baby wheel. The proverbial God knows my husband won’t participate in another baby food tasting challenge again! He was over and done with these events. Proudly I can say retirement wouldn’t be a bad thing, not because we dislike the company but because we have done so many that it isn’t fun any more. It’s not as fulfilling for us to go through an evening of ohh and ahhs over baby gifts. More on baby items advice later…
Weddings didn’t and don’t make us feel any better. Why? I become irate every time the priest or officiant tells the happy couple that their mission in life as a couple is to procreate. Hey, dude, less pressure! If only religion could leave the reproductive decisions and judgement out of their wedding ceremony. Sheesh! You can’t possibly know these days that infertility problems will not happen. Time and time again I feel the loss we endured when I hear this is a commandment or measurement of wedded bliss and marital success. I lost my place in the clans because of this misconception. I’m sure people think I am a bad wife for not wanting to go through the many costly steps to become a mother, be it adoption, invitro or surrogacy. This last year has given me a lot of time to reflect on these things. I’m glad we got enough of a break in invites to regroup and attempt to enjoy these events again. Maybe a year’s respite from all these activities was what we needed to heal. Future me can update you later on this development. Lol
It’s hard to not have some PTSD reaction whenever I get one of these announcements in the mail or on my newsfeed. Even though I have seen every type of wedding and baby announcement imaginable, it is unpredictable to discern which type will set the emotional bombs off. After 7 years recuperating from our miscarriage, we are almost sincere when we congratulate people. It shows some progress. There’s still an itty bitty sliver of jealousy, bitterness and resentment when we hear the news but that’s not on them. I’ll take it up with our maker, if or when I meet him. You never know with these things.
If you are on the same boat, even if you are single with no prospects or married with no infertility issues, swing by my suite and we can talk. I think we’ve been upgraded to first mate of this choppy ride based on how far and long we have traveled on this cruise. My only solace is that I have become an expert at helping people cope through miscarriages, child loss and the many protocols of fertility treatments. (My husband left that to me to carry alone. I understand.) I can be your resource guide on all things children since the many encounters with moms and Babys R Us catalogues have informed me well and kept me aprised of the trends and expectations. I didn’t want this knowledge or role but life assigned it to me so I will own it to the best of my ability. Sharing is caring, right?
At this stage of my development, maturity wise, I can’t complain about the hand I was dealt. I can only play it well. We may have to bluff through a couple more rounds (waves) but we will have our win. Let’s hope others can recognize we are not fully enjoying it and choose to help us have fun. Grief makes you miss happiness even when it is right there next to you, within reach. Never forget that. Be compassionate and kind even if you can’t be understanding. We don’t need more accusations or baby questions. No one does. All people with fertility issues, or no spouses, need is to see the light at the end of the tunnel and move towards it. Respect our new normal and respect people’s choices. Support, don’t judge.
By the way, before I forget, congratulations to all of my friends who are reading this and have entered the wedding and child rearing stages! (That includes you too grandparents.) We are still fighting in the underwater levels (the hardest in video game history) and will come up for air to visit once in a while. We continue to figure out how to beat the machine because we refuse to let it beat us. 😉 May our paths continue to intersect, your children grow wiser and our luck begin to turn. Adulting doesn’t get any easier.