What To Expect When You’re NOT Expecting
I can see “the question” coming from a conversation away.
It’s innocent, well-meaning, inquisitive…and frustrating.
“So when are you having a baby?”
I’ve been hit with the question at brunch with friends and while sitting in church near acquaintances. The question comes up at work and when I bump into an old friend at the mall. Even complete strangers find it appropriate to ask me if my husband and I are having kids soon.
My answer varies from a mumbling shrug to a bright and cheery “I don’t know. We’re open to it, so probably sometime soon.” What I want to say is: “We’ll have a baby when I get pregnant. We’ve been trying for a baby for years and failed every time. At this point, I’m sick of people asking.” But that would be rude and I understand that the person asking me isn’t trying to be rude, so I just do the fake smile thing or the mumble shrug thing.
Either way, I’m frustrated both with being asked the question and by not being able to answer with “I’m pregnant right now!”
No one wants ME to have a baby more than ME. And sometimes it seems that every one has a baby except me.
When I’m out and about, I notice more pregnant women than ever. I notice every toddler in a stroller, every kid in a shopping cart, every baby peeking out of a Bjorn strapped to his mom’s chest.
There was a time when I thought getting pregnant would be the worst thing to ever happen to me. Even after I got married, I was still anti-baby-on-the-way. Each visit from Aunt Flow was a relief. I was focused on my career, my marriage, my friends, and my freedom.
Then one day something changed.
I’m not even sure what changed. All I know is I went from rolling my eyes at anyone who commented that my (White) husband and I would make beautiful children to endlessly scrolling through “#MixedRaceBabiesIG” pictures on Instagram. I went from declaring a baby would be the death of my career ambitions to dreaming about conquering the challenges that come with being a working mom. Suddenly, I realized that I no longer wanted to put mommyhood on hold for my career. I wanted both.
And so far, it hasn’t happened.
Every month when my cycle starts, it feels like a funeral…but I’m the only one invited.
Perhaps unfairly, I blame this crushing disappointment in my inability to get pregnant right away on a sex education system that preached unprotected sex automatically equals pregnancy. Abstinence-only education preaches that even protected sex can result in pregnancy. Case in point: Remember that famous “Friends” episode (“The One Where Rachel Tells Ross”) and they had an entire – hilarious – scene about the fact that condoms are not 100% effective against pregnancy? Yeah, lucky them.
Of course sex leads to pregnancy (both wanted and unwanted), but it’s not that simple for many women.
The truth is, you can try and try and try and fail and fail and fail.
At the end of the day, all the calendars, ovulation kits, strategic positioning, multiple romps in a day, weight loss plans, prenatal vitamins, careful timing – even fertility pills and IVF- in the world are completely at the mercy of God and biology.
In fact the CDC counts the number of married women ages 15-44 that are infertile (or unable to get pregnant after at least 12 consecutive months of unprotected sex with husband) at 1.5 million. If you count the women who can get pregnant but not carry a baby to full term that number jumps to 6.7 million.
On the bright side, a new study found that almost half of women who said they’d been struggling to get pregnant for at least a year ended up having a baby despite not getting fertility treatment.
So there is still hope!
While I’m not yet expecting, I try to keep in mind that right now is not forever. So I’m still waiting.
But I’ve decided that waiting isn’t necessarily that bad.
Because to wait is to remain actively involved in your breakthrough.
You’re only “waiting” if you’re still believing. If you didn’t believe you will have what you’re hoping for, then you wouldn’t be waiting at all. Instead, you would have given up hope.
So, in that spirit, the only thing I’ve found helpful and productive while waiting is to be thankful. To be thankful for the place I am in right now. To be thankful for both the days I can sleep in carefree and the nights I can slave at work until the wee hours. Thankful that my husband and I can just pick up and go on a trip and thankful for the days we can just stay home and do absolutely nothing. Thankful for getting to watch my nieces and nephews and thankful for the ability to just give them back.
Although I am hoping to go from here to mommyhood as soon as possible, in this moment right here, right now there is something to be thankful for. Every single thing has its upsides and downsides. I just have to focus on the upsides and maybe even create an upside simply by looking for it. While I’m waiting for things to turn, I may as well make the most of the kid-free moment I’m in right now because, once I’m finally pregnant, I’ll never have this moment again.
So, if you’re like me and you’re wondering what to expect when you’re NOT expecting, well honestly, expect to be disappointed. However, I hope you’ll join me in tempering that disappointment with a little enjoyment and thankfulness for the moment that we’re in right now.