At a small gathering several years ago, I was carrying a friend’s five month old baby when another friend walked up to me and asked to hold him. Minutes after I handed her the baby, tears welled up in her eyes and she began to shake. She had two children, her second child was, maybe 3 years old. She wanted, no, yearned, to have a third. It was intense, puzzling and somewhat uncomfortable to watch, especially for me who had been married for several years and was still searching for a first baby with a torchlight. When she handed back the baby, I held him close trying to feel just a wee bit of what she had been feeling, and although the usual longing welled up in my heart, it was nothing as intense as what she had felt.
In the second year of our marriage, when it became clear that the babies may not come, I ran a whole range of emotions and did a lot of crazy things. From magnifying a feeling and turning it into a definite pregnancy symptom; to having a drawer full of home pregnancy test kits for when my period delayed for just one day; to walking into a hospital for a proper test because my home test kit may just be wrong; to getting on the doctor’s couch for a scan because, well, the blood test may have also been wrong; to locking myself up in my room and crying a tanker full of tears because I came home and realized that the ‘nausea and other symptoms’ I was experiencing may have been desire induced.
My computer’s browser history and bookshelf reflected my mindset. I was obsessed, pregnancy and baby books and magazines peeked out of every corner of the house and bottles of supplements and herbal medicine filled the medicine basket.
It was very hard on my husband because I kind of had a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde thing going on. He would say goodbye to a cheerful and loving woman and come home to an angry and moody one. What happened? The well-known ache in my belly announcing the arrival of my period.
By the third year, I had turned into a watcher. I would covertly watch the tummies of women who got married after me and for every pregnancy confirmed, my heart and self esteem fell lower and lower. Outside, with friends and family, I was carefree, the one always ready with jokes. There was no crack in my I-could-not-be-bothered mask but I was dying inside, period by monthly period. In church, I would sing and dance and clap and shout but the feeling that I may never have a proper life without children of my own was too strong to ignore.
And then, two things happened that caused me to rethink my attitude. For the first time, I looked at and learned to appreciate the amazing support I had in my husband, family and friends and I realized that they were the only reason I had remained sane. When one day, I got a call from a woman who was going through a phase and needed some comfort, I was glad that I could speak to her from a place of healing and not pain.
It’s been seven years and in that time, I have met people who think I am not praying enough, not fasting enough, not trying hard enough. I have also met people who always have one solution or the other that they think I should try; then there are those who try not to mention babies around me.
It used to be hard and it sometimes still is, but these days, when people ask, “How many children do you have?” instead of asking,“Do you have any children?” I smile and reply, “None” And I am fine.