I had to go in for a blood test this morning, and I stopped in the bathroom when I arrived. The woman in the stall next to me vomited. After a minute, she called “Sorry!” to me.
“Morning sickness,” she said.
“That’s OK,” I said. “I’ve been there.”
“At least we get something out of it, right?” she said.
I said nothing.
After having Eleanor, I had an instant connection to every other woman who had given birth. With the women I met in my neighborhood playgroup, I got to endlessly rehash the pregnancy, the delivery, the efforts to get the baby to sleep through the night. And then there was potty-training and preschool and the debate about the ideal spacing for the second child. I knew all the language of parenthood.
Then my life was hijacked and I ended up in a different world. I learned the language of this place, with its nuanced descriptions of grief and uncertainty. In this world, people speak of “if,” not “when.” If I can get pregnant. If the baby is born alive. And no one has a baby shower before bringing home the baby.
I no longer speak the language of the innocent. I can’t participate in the daily conversations that pepper playgrounds and libraries. I can’t understand the stories about how hard it is to care for two or three healthy children. I don’t think that unmedicated labor is the most difficult thing a woman can go through. If I responded though, I would look like a bitter, angry woman, when really I’m just sad to be left out. Left out of the conversation. Left out of a world in which people simply decide to have a baby and then do.
I don’t mean to throw myself a pity party. My life has so many other wonderful components — writing, editing, cooking, dancing — that help blunt the pain. And I have a healthy daughter, who every day looks a little more like a miracle to me. And a husband who stands by me no matter how crazy I become. But sometimes I wish I could take my family for granted just a little bit, like everyone else does.