One of the four Noble Truths in Buddhism (roughly) is that the cause of suffering is desire: wanting what we do not have now, thinking that some thing outside ourselves is the way to gain happiness. I can certainly attest that desiring a baby fruitlessly has led to considerable suffering for many of us who are ttc or tt-adopt. It’s hard to find balance between the usefulness of desire in acting as a springboard for forward movement and the detrimental pain that desire causes. So now that Joey and I have babies on the way, I expected that this monster of desire would be satiated for a time. In the absence of soul-eating desire, I expected to find myself happy….and I am happy. But I suppose I expected to find myself in a magical state of being where would I would ceaselessly grin from ear to ear . The reality does not match my romantic expectations.
The story: last night, the nursery I painted and trimmed was finally completely dry and paint-fume-free. Joey and I decided to assemble the cribs. Cue the Dis.ney music in my mind. I expected that we would think lovingly about the babies and we would be wrapped in a sense of great love and excitement. We were excited. We did laugh. But somewhere in the middle of the construction project, Joey ran to the bathroom for a quick vomit. We also had several difficult points when the crib parts would not fit together properly…. normal irritations. We enjoyed the task and the results but there was no…..magic. No one cued the rainbows or the star dust. It was just a normal evening: nice, pleasant but less than the charmed event I anticipated.
I think a lack of magic is the thing I have noticed most about having babies on the way. Things are great. We are blessed to be having an uneventful pregnancy and truly I give thanks for that fact every single day. Buuuut, there are tasks to do, clothes to wash, stuff to buy, closets to clean out, trash to take away in the purging, healthy dinners to cook, pets to care for, and etc. In all those 3 years of dreaming, I imagined the fun parts: looking at the belly, rubbing the belly, attending dr visits, loving the ultrasounds, decorating, planning, naming. My mind seems to have glossed over the more tedious bits of pregnancy. I am betting motherhood will be a similar experience: that we dream now about all the loving happy moments and gloss over the laundry, tired nights, crying and etc. Perhaps pregnancy is good practice for being a parent– at least in the sense of learning to let go of desire and want to be able to stay in the moment to fully experience what is rather than what I assumed would be.
As though the Universe needed to reinforce the reminder I had last night, I present the story of today: Joey and I went to find and buy some maternity p@nties today. This is not an easy task in our small town! In the midst of our irritation, we decided to detour into a children’s clothing store. They had everything on sale. Despite the sensible admonitions of mothers in the know, we could not resist sale-priced newborn outfits. We laughed and shopped for an hour. We shocked and frightened the sales clerk as she slowly realized that “we” were preparing for babies (always fun). We chose soft unisex outfits with feet in the shape of ducks, monkeys, dogs and the like and we chose a set of matching newborn outfits (because we need at least a couple of dressed-alike pictures). I walked into the children’s shop with ZERO expectations and Joey and I had some of the best times of the pregnancy so far. We got back to the car where we held hands like new lovers.
Another blogger and I have been having a conversation about our therapy experiences: we have both noticed that many therapists just cannot handle the truth of the infertility experience. I expect that the general public will want to put a happy “all’s well that end’s well” spin to my infertility but I have always hoped that therapists could do a better job hearing about that level of experience and hurt. I am at a place where I can accept my lot in life. My body doesn’t let embryos snuggle in for the long hall. That sucks. Period. But I still get to be a mom and that is an enormous consolation prize. Sometimes parts of life hurt and aren’t fair. I accept that as part of the terms to being human.
The story: I was on the phone with a friend of mine who is also a therapist. She is the queen of self-inflicted drama. Truly she wrecks her life frequently in some of the most spectacularly bad ways I have ever seen. She never lacks the words to talk about how it sucks that this person or that person doesn’t love her anymore as a result of actions she should have known better than to take in the first place. I was touched that she mentioned my infertility even as we were having a conversation about Joey’s pregnancy. I said, “yeah, it sucks that I can’t get pregnant.” She brought it up and yet she said, “no, it doesn’t suck. At least Joey can get pregnant.” Cue my blood boiling. I am happy that Joey is pregnant, I have not grieved my non-pregnancy the way I thought I would but I can assure anyone who wants to listen than infertility.really.does.suck. It sucked yesterday. It sucks today. It sucks tomorrow and it will suck in 45 years as well. But I am still happy. I still see the silver lining (that my partner can carry a baby) and I still accept the terms of this world. We all suffer. In reflecting on why my friend needs me to view my life differently than I do, I keep getting an image of her running away from this pain and that pain- Always seeking pleasure and running from the hard stuff- never finding that calm state of equilibrium we are all seeking. I suppose I have answered my own question. I think people (and therapists) feel much more comfortable with the mirage of complete happiness than with the truth of a happiness, imperfectly achieved through hard work, grief and re-arranged expectations.
And I leave you with the words of those great gurus, the Indigo Girls: “the hardest to learn is the least complicated.”