I want to be pregnant more than most people can even imagine.
I’ve known since I was a teenager that I had a gynecological condition that would make it difficult to get pregnant the old fashioned way. Unfortunately, after a few months of trying and lots of testing, my doctors determined that what they had previously thought would be difficult had turned into impossible and my husband and I have entered into the world of fertility treatments. Some days I can joke about it (How annoying is it that I wasted precious beer money in college on pointless pregnancy tests!) and some days I feel overwhelmingly sad and defeated.
The worst days, though, are the bitter days. Since I got the news, it seems like everyone around me is pregnant. As the baby shower invitations flood my mailbox and pictures of tiny faces fill my newsfeed, sometimes it’s hard not to be resentful. On those days, if I hear “Well, it was sooner than we planned!” from yet another newly expecting couple, I might just scream.
We saved, we planned, and we waited until we knew we were ready. It’s hard to accept that isn’t enough and that we’ll have to work so hard for something that should be easy and fun.
That’s why my close friend Jen expected me to be pissed when she recently told me, while crying so hard she could barely get the words out, that she was pregnant and didn’t want to be. Jen has been one of the few people I have confided in about trying to conceive and has listened to me vent about feeling like a human pin cushion and empathizes while I cry about how unfair it is to have a shitty reproductive system.
She told me afterward that she had been terrified to tell me because she thought I would try to change her mind or hate her for her decision. My reaction couldn’t have been farther from what she anticipated. Without hesitation, I told Jen what she needed to hear: that I supported her choice to terminate her pregnancy without feeling any judgement, and that I would do anything she needed me to do.
My infertility has made me more pro-choice than ever.
I trust women to be the experts on their own lives and to make the best choices for themselves. I think what other people do with their own bodies is none of my business. This has always added up to considering myself pro-choice. It’s not something I had thought about often because it just seemed logical to me. But once I started spending most of my time with pregnancy on the brain, I’ve found myself even surer that no one should be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.
Some of the hormones I have tried have left me with symptoms that I am told are very similar to all of the negative effects of pregnancy without any of the glow of knowing there are tiny little fingers and toes growing inside of me. I’m talking the sweating through clothes, nausea, body aches and exhaustion side of fluctuating hormones that no one should have to go through unless they want to. Despite what the anti-choice lobby will have you believe, I’ve heard that being pregnant can be pretty taxing. I mean, you’re growing a human and all. It seems like that’s a lot of work for a body to take on.
Yet anti-choicers love to use women like me as a pawn in their storyline to guilt women into carrying their pregnancy to term. They say that you’re selfish and horrible not to go through all the hard stuff you deal with in pregnancy and give birth to a baby only to hand it over to some sad sack like me who would do anything for a baby.
Don’t get me wrong, women who freely choose adoption as an alternative to parenting are doing an amazing thing. But it’s not amazing if their choice is coerced and their decision based on guilt and fear stemming from crisis pregnancy centers and their bullshit scare tactics. I don’t think anyone should feel pressured into being pregnant just because I can’t be. There’s no fetus fairy in the sky that’s giving out free babies to some women but telling me mine is on backorder. Someone else getting pregnant doesn’t have any impact on my situation.
My infertility isn’t anyone else’s fault.
My infertility isn’t Jen’s fault. She didn’t plan on getting pregnant a month after accepting a job offer that is moving her 10 hours away from home and into a long distance relationship that she isn’t sure will last. A night of drunken celebrating turned into peeing on a stick for a couple of weeks and seeing that Big Fat Positive I’ve been wishing to see for a long time. Do I wish it could have been me instead of her? Of course. I’d be lying if I pretended my stomach didn’t sink a little when she told me the news and that I didn’t have a “why not me?” cry in the car on the way home. I’m deeply jealous of her ability to get pregnant without shots and tests and pills.
But I’m not even remotely jealous of the position she is in and the choice she had to make. I consider myself lucky to have never experienced an unwanted pregnancy and hope I never have to feel the pain and worry that my friend has dealt with. I’m glad she has access to a safe, legal abortion and was trusted to make the decision that she knew was right for her. I’m glad Jen confided in me and that I could be there for her when she needed me, just as she has been there for me.
Trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for this long has given me lots of time to think about pregnancy and parenting. Too much time even. I think about what we’ll name our future children, how we’ll decorate our nursery and how amazing my husband will be as a father. I read all the books and magazines so I’m prepared. I alternate between being scared shitless about the prospect of becoming a mother and being absolutely terrified that I may never end up being one. I regularly change my opinion on how long I think I’ll breastfeed and whether we will tell people the sex of any future babies before they are born and whether or not I’ll be okay if it never happens for me.
But one belief has never wavered - that every baby that is brought into this world should be a wanted one, whether they are the result of a happy accident or the byproduct of years of waiting and careful planning.