November 15, 2004

Grape Jelly Handprints

It’s interesting how infertility and childlessness turns parts of you into a different person, making you think and act in ways totally unlike your pre-infertility self.

I’ve never been a superstitious person, not one to worry about walking under ladders or a black cat crossing my path or stepping on a crack in the sidewalk. Yet I find myself inventing superstitions by thinking that if I do this or don’t think that, just maybe we will finally get that one thing I barely even allow myself to acknowledge is possible anymore, much less hope for.

When we were in treatment, after the rosy glow of naiveté wore off, I found myself thinking, “If I ever get another positive test, I’m announcing to the RE and all of the nurses at the clinic that there will be no mention of the other ‘p’ word. There will be no discussion of due dates, because there will be plenty of time for that after we reach the 32nd week and God has signed a contract guaranteeing us that this won’t end badly.”

Most women call their mother or their friends to say, “Guess what! We’re pregnant!”
I envisioned our conversations going more along the lines of:

Me: “Guess what! We got a positive hcg test!”

My mother: “Congratulations, dear! Um, is that a good thing? I mean, you’ve done so many tests, I don’t know anymore when it’s good that it’s positive and when it’s bad that it’s positive.”

Me: “It’s good, Mom. It’s a positive hcg test.” (hoping that what I don’t dare say out loud comes through via mental telepathy)

My mother: “Oh my God, so you’re pr–”

Me: “Don’t SAAAAY it!!! Don’t even THINK it! It’s simply a positive hcg test.”

As if by not acknowledging it, it won’t realize that I know it’s there and therefore it won’t go away.

That’s the way my brain works these days. And now that we’ve moved on to adoption, my brain seems to have taken it even one step further.

Maybe it’s the fact that the door seems to have shut on one of our paths, since treatment is no longer an option for us, at least not for the immediate future. Maybe it’s just that I’d counted for so long on going down both paths at the same time (treatment and adoption), now I feel like we’re floating out at sea, in a boat at least but without a life jacket.

Whatever the reason behind it, I find myself thinking that maybe I don’t want children after all. Maybe this whole child-free life isn’t such a bad thing.

After all, we can take off at a moment’s notice if we want to. We can go on trips, because we have the financial resources to do so. We can sleep in as late as we want, and we don’t have to worry about wiping sticky fingerprints off the refrigerator or coaxing crayon stains out of the carpet or dealing with children fighting in the back seat on the way home after a tiring day at work.

But if that’s true, if that’s really how I feel, why am I sitting here crying and thinking I’d give almost anything in the world to walk into our kitchen right now and see little grape jelly handprints covering our refrigerator?

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