Somewhere there is a woman: 30, no children.
People ask her, “Still no kids?” Her response varies from day to day, but it usually includes forced smiles and restraint. “Nope, not yet,” she says with a chuckle, muffling her frustration. “Well, don’t wait forever. That clock is ticking, ya know,” the sage says before departing, happy with herself for imparting such erudite wisdom. The sage leaves. The woman holds her smile. Alone, she cries…
Cries because she’s been pregnant 4 times and miscarried every one. Cries because she started trying for a baby on her wedding night, and that was 5 years ago. Cries because her husband has an ex-wife and she has given him children. Cries because she wants desperately to try in vitro but can’t even afford the deposit. Cries because she’s done in vitro (multiple rounds) and still has no children. Cries because her best friend wouldn’t be a surrogate. “It would be too weird,” she said. Cries because her medication prevents pregnancy.
Cries because her husband blames himself, and that guilt makes him a hard person to live with. Cries because all of her sisters have children. Cries because one of her sisters didn’t even want children. Cries because her best friend is pregnant. Cries because she got invited to another baby shower. Cries because her mother keeps asking, “Girl, what are you waiting for?” Cries because her in-laws want to be grandparents. Cries because her neighbor has twins and treats them terribly. Cries because 16-year-olds get pregnant without trying. Cries because she’s an amazing aunt. Cries because she’s already picked out names. Cries because there’s an empty room in her house. Cries because there is an empty space in her body. Cries because she has so much to offer. Cries because he’d be a great dad. Cries because she’d be a great mother, but isn’t.
Somewhere else there’s another woman: 34, 5 children.
People say to her, “5? Good lord, I hope you’re done!” And then they laugh… because those types of comments are funny. The woman laughs too, but not in earnest. She changes the subject, as she always does, and gives the disrespect a pass. Just another day. Alone, she cries… Cries because she’s pregnant with another and feels like she has to hide the joy. Cries because she always wanted a big family and doesn’t see why people seem so disturbed by it. Cries because she has no siblings and felt profoundly lonely as a child. Cries because her Granny had 12 and she’d love to be just like her.
Cries because she couldn’t imagine life without her children, but people treat her like they’re a punishment. Cries because she doesn’t want to be pitied. Cries because she and her husband are perfectly capable of supporting their family, but that doesn’t seem to matter. Cries because they assume she’s just irresponsible. Cries because she’s tired of the “funny” comments. Cries because she minds her own business. Cries because sometimes she doubts herself and wonders if she should have stopped 2 kids ago. Cries because people are rude. Cries because all she wants to do is live in peace.
Another woman: 40, one child.
Cries because her husband died and she hasn’t found love again. Cries because her family thinks one is enough. Cries because she’s deep into her career and can’t step away. Cries because her postpartum depression was so intense. Cries because she had to have a hysterectomy. Cries because she wants another baby, but can’t have it.
These women are everywhere. They are our neighbors, our friends, our sisters, our co-workers, our cousins. They have no use for our advice or opinions. Their wombs are their own. Let’s respect that.