I've had a hard time writing lately because I'm trying to ignore the one topic I want to address. In fact, for the first time ever, I was at a complete loss as to what to write about for my newspaper column this week. I ended up putting together a humorous look at dog ownership, noting the fast-approaching one-year anniversary of the day we brought Toby home. I know they can't all be winners, but at least the dog lovers will enjoy it.
I'm sure it sounds hard to believe, but when I repress what I want to write about, my entire creativity and mood suffers. And as much as I want and need to put this out there, I can't express how difficult it is for me. It's hard to look at yourself and realize you've turned into something you never thought you'd be. Something you despised for much of your youth and young adulthood.
Needless to say, I didn't think my newspaper was the appropriate venue for that. And, frankly, I'm not sure I could've done it in 500 words or less. It seems like more of a "don't overthink it, just type" kind of topic.
So here it is: I'm baby obsessed.
I've turned into this woman whose moments of private thoughts are entirely dedicated to wanting a child. I don't know exactly how or when this happened, all I know is that I wish I could turn it off and get back to my previously perfectly happy existence where I was more than content with my husband and my dog.
Before we got married, Jerry and I talked at length about children. As confused as we were on the topic, we came to a consensus: maybe none, maybe one, maybe two, but three tops. And certainly none before we had tried out married life for awhile. We wanted to wait at least until our first anniversary, maybe second. Then assess the situation from there.
As a college student, I remember coming back from classes to find my roommates huddled around our TV watching back-to-back episodes of "A Wedding Story" and "A Baby Story." Personally, I never understood the draw. Weddings and babies weren't necessarily a part of my future. They certainly weren't a goal or a destination. But if I happened to meet the right person at the right time? I'd embrace it.
When Jerry's proposal came, I wasn't pining for it. I wasn't looking at rings in jewelry store windows or flipping through wedding magazines wondering when it was going to be my turn. I didn't feel too old to be dating. I was happy and didn't question it.
The same used to be true with having a baby. I wasn't pining for it. I wasn't drooling over babies in public places. Infant clothing stores and diaper commercials didn't even register on my radar. But if it just sort of happened? I'd embrace it.
And that's what did happen. After a serious bout of nausea and feeling like I might faint when I saw that second line show up on the EPT test, I embraced it. I pushed aside my fears and mentally prepared myself for the life-changing experience of pregnancy and motherhood.
But when fate stepped in and took that child from us, everything changed. I experienced a profound feeling of loss, and at times, even a confusing feeling of relief.
Over the days and weeks and months that followed, Jerry and I have completely changed our outlook on children. At first, he was immediately ready to start trying again. I, however, wanted my body to heal. I wanted to feel healthy again. Besides, my doctors recommended waiting at least two normal periods to ensure that my reproductive organs were functioning properly.
During that time, while I was trying to get over the loss, I noticed things I hadn't ever noticed before. I found myself looking at children's toys while I was shopping for Christmas. I paid attention to umbilical cord blood banking commercials. I found myself mentally rearranging the living room to accommodate a playpen. Newborns don't look as gross and wrinkly as they used to. Now they're borderline cute.
What the hell is wrong with me?
Jerry, however, has gone in the opposite direction. While he was the one who was ready for a baby before we even knew I was pregnant, now he wants to wait. He isn't ready to go through that kind of pain again. And I can't blame him. But somewhere in the recesses of my heart, I know it won't be the same next time. I know we'll have a healthy baby. We have to.
But I don't want the kind of relationship where I pressure my husband to have a baby. That isn't right. That's not the way it's supposed to be. I want it to be a mutual decision when the time is right for both of us.
So I swallow my feelings. I spend a lot of energy concentrating on not talking about it. And I have to work not to think about it.
Other than that, I don't know how to cope. This is a completely new realm of unfounded obsession for me. It's not like trying to quit smoking or trying to recover from alcoholism where you can talk about it openly and get the support you need. There's no such thing as Baby Obsessed Anonymous.
But maybe I don't need group therapy. Maybe I just need to talk with the one person who needs to hear this.
So a few moments ago, when Jerry walked in to kiss me goodbye and asked what I was writing about, I just burst into tears and spewed a borderline incoherent rant about how I'm completely mental.
And being the awesome and understanding guy that he is, he listened. And sat on the floor with me. And told me that that maybe the reason he's been pushing for another dog so much is because he wants to expand our family, too. And that all of it is completely normal.
I don't feel normal. But I do feel better.