One of the things I’m most dreading about this pregnancy is the questions from strangers. Even back when fear didn’t shadow every aspect of pregnancy, I sometimes hated going out in public and dealing with all of the questions. No, I’m not having twins. Yes, I am having a C-section because I have a messed up uterus. How did I end up talking to a stranger about my uterus?
Our society treats pregnancy very publicly. And we tend to assume that pregnancy is a happy and healthy time for women. For some of us, even those of us who desperately want a baby, it’s an ordeal. People always want to know how many babies I’ve had, and that is a messy question. I know that for the next five months, I’m going to have to decide on a daily basis whether to be honest and pop that happy bubble that people live in or whether to grit my teeth and leave the bubble intact.
I went for a blood test on Monday, and the nurse began the happy pregnancy banter. How far along was I? Which number was this?
I told her it was my third, frustrated that I had to answer such questions after being stuck three times with a needle because of my minuscule veins. Of course, it’s actually my fourth pregnancy. That’s too much to unload on a stranger though. I explained that my last baby was stillborn, which was why I was at the doctor’s office having a big container of blood drawn for DNA tests.
“I went through a lot of fertility treatments,” the nurse said. She went on to explain that she had a miscarriage and then more fertility treatments. Finally, she had adopted. After she spoke, her face looked softer and more fatigued. Open.
I carry such a heavy suitcase that I’m never sure whether I should let the contents spill out. Then I have moments like that, where I open the suitcase for a stranger, and she has some of the very same stuff in her suitcase. Instant kinship. It feels like I’m doing that other person a favor, and she’s doing the same for me. Those rare moments of connection make all of the other startled stares worthwhile.
I can’t tell by looking though. I can only dump out the mess and hope for understanding.