images: NMCIL ortiz domney
I went to Tar-gét today to buy a hair straightener (ooh! hair gadget!) and a present for my mom who is retiring soon. Once I had found my perfect $20 number that promises me untold riches of hair straightening, I went in search of mom’s present. During the search, I found myself in the gift-wrap aisle and saw all of the baby gift wrap and gift bags.
I was struck by a) how adorable they are; b) how much I desperately want someone to give me one; and c) how much I wanted to be pregnant to justify B. Pretty quickly, though, I recognized that there was a myth in this gift wrap with its baby ducks and pastel colors. Not everyone has a happy ending with their pregnancy. Not everyone who wants to receive gifts in this precious wrapping is going to. And that made me angry that what we see as ‘reality’ really isn’t for everyone.
Not surprisingly, myth versus reality has been one of the themes discussed during my many hours spent on the couch opposite my therapist. To me, myth is what you replace reality with when you have no information or knowledge to make your own reality. Until I started trying to get pregnant when I was 29 (oh, so long ago) the only thing I could remember from high school biology about reproduction was when the teacher brought in diaphragms (not her’s!) to show us the various methods of contraception. I didn’t have the slightest memory about anything other than sperm + egg = baby and that this combination was very, very bad.
Unfortunately, when it comes to something as momentous and significant as the decision to have a child, you are very tempted to sit back and rely on the myths about family building that are perpetuated everyday. Myths such as, we should have children because that’s what people who get married do, we won’t have any problems getting pregnant, we won’t have any problems staying pregnant, childbirth will be a breeze and motherhood will be the most fulfilling thing we can do with our lives. After all, don’t we all know someone who embodies each and everyone of these myths? We know that they are based in someway on reality, it’s just not our reality.
We began to feel the cold smack of our reality when we learned that my tubes were both completely blocked. It was compounded when I miscarried. But, these events have proven to be an important, if incredibly trying and painful, lesson: myths, especially myths about family building, can only be vanquished with your reality and what you realistically expect and want. Of course, that requires some difficult soul-searching and introspection coupled with frank discussions with your significant other. We realistically expect that some way, somehow, we will have a child. Whether the child inherits its traits from us or belonged to someone else entirely, I don’t know. And that’s actually ok because the end goal is to have a child.
When I find myself leaning like a branch in the wind of the myth, I step back and right myself in the reality that is our quest. We don’t know how we will be successful, but we will be.