It took me thirteen years to get pregnant. I don’t talk a lot about my infertility, because somewhere during those thirteen years, I decided to not let it define me or my life. I didn’t want to sit around at home pining for a child while allowing other opportunities to slip away. And I certainly didn’t want to be seen that way by the world; I didn’t want to be known for what I did not have–I wanted to be known for what I could do and what I’d done.
I mean, there were plenty of days in there where I would draw the curtains in my bedroom, crawl into my bed, and cry for hours on end, grieving a life I didn’t have. I would be very happy for my pregnant friends, but found baby showers unbearable, so I stopped going. And I’d be very happy for my pregnant friends, but simultaneously found their round pregnant bellies torturous. But for the most part, I kept my grief very private, for better and for worse, to the point where some people were very surprised to learn I wanted children.
We bought our home in Berkeley with the intention of having children, many children. Over the years, the extra bedrooms became guest rooms and and an office. Still, the aura of empty bedrooms never escaped me.
In some fit of optimism, I decided early on that the first child I’d hold in my arms was going to be my own, so for many many years I politely declined holding people’s babies. Eventually, I wondered if I should go ahead and hold a baby, because maybe I’d never get to hold my own. But by then, very few people offered up their babies to me. And the significance of the act had become quite large–whose baby? And what would that act signify? Would that mean I’d totally given up? And uh, yah. Awkward.
Yah, it got complicated.
At one point, I picked up my head and made a concerted effort to “do what people with kids cannot do.” That meant that when we were asked to move to New York City, we immediately (okay not immediately, but twenty-four hours later) said yes, we would. (Plus hello? New York!) We picked up and moved within two months, wending our way across the country (through a blizzard in Arizona!) in a MINI Cooper with two geriatric wiener dogs in the back. We lived a bicoastal life. We flew back and forth. These were things that people with kids could not do.
And then–we got pregnant.
I wrote a little essay late in my pregnancy on my infertility and its intersection with yoga for my friend and yoga instructor, Tara Stiles. I met her completely by chance at her yoga studio Strala Yoga. Yoga with Tara changed my life. Tara read this essay at a conference on infertility (Fertility Planit) at which she was a keynote speaker.
If you want to hear it, Tara’s presentation is up at MindBodyGreen; she begins reading my essay at the 24:30 mark.
And here is my essay if you would prefer to read it: