Yesterday I walked into the ladies’ room at work for a quick toilet break. When I walked in, there were three heavily pregnant women, rubbing their stomachs and chatting with each other.
I briefly thought it was the making of a supreme joke – “Three pregnant women were talking in the ladies’ room when…”
Then I thought – for a lot of women there’s nothing remotely funny about walking into a room and seeing that. For me it was once a sight that would see me do an about face and march straight back out of the toilet, only to go to my desk and struggle with medium to moderate waves of depression. For a lot of women, this is not a humorous joke.
I can say a lot of this with the hindsight that I have two little people. I know that, and so I want to write this one out as honestly as I can with the thoughts I had at the time. So please, please – if I say something wrong or get it out awkwardly, please don’t take offence and please understand none of this was ever my intention.
I do wish for a do-over with the twins’ early years. The parents in our adult relationship were very different people then, and I would love to go back and do some things differently. It’ll never happen and I get that.
I also know I will never get another chance to do so. There are no little babies to nestle into your neck, with that soft smell they have as they fall asleep. There are no more of those little shock movements they have as new babies, when their limbs are not under their control. There are no sleepy car rides with them dozing in their car seats, sized no bigger than acorn squash.
Those days are gone.
New days are here, bright new days with all new adventures.
But those days of a bundle nestled snugly in sheaths of blankets in the crook of my elbow…those days. Those days are not going to happen again.
And while I was in that toilet, I realized that it was ok.
It really was.
Not an inch of me in any way felt any envy or jealousy of those women and their upcoming bundles of their own. I listened in a bit, and mentally ticked off the checklist as the women first mentioned their single unborn children they were toting around, and how far along they were. One baby only in there, I thought. Tick.
For me, personally, I think that this passage of not feeling any envy or regret is not because I can’t face the IVF. It’s not because we can’t afford them or that we are too old. It’s not that quite frankly, I not only have a 50% chance of passing on a debilitating genetic disorder, but just attempting to carry a child to term would probably kill me.
It is because I know in my heart of heart of hearts that I am done. Me. Personally. I am done. And part of knowing that I am done comes from all of those factors above plus one more, and this is where I am going to tread carefully lest I in any way upset anyone – I wonder if a part of me is done because I have a son and a daughter. Boy/girl IVF twins are considered the jackpot of IVF successes, thus I have by those standards won the lottery. I have the absolute stereotypical train-loving boy and princess-loving girl. I don’t know if mothers who have a single child via IVF feel any kind of longing for having another child of the other sex – I imagine that some do, but please don’t think of this as me rubbing things in because I promise that’s not my intention.
The twins start school in September. They are brilliant children who can both exasperate and galvanize. I don’t look back at sleepless nights or days of nappy changing with anything akin to grim horror with a “I’ll never go back again!” attitude. I just know those days are past. Each step was amazing, and each step is gone. New steps forward and all. I can’t go back. I know that. I don’t know if it is this way for everyone, if every woman (fertility treatment or not) reaches a point where things are ok, or if more women than not feel a sense sadness for that one more step.
I am not gloating, and I want to make sure that this post isn’t viewed as such. I am perhaps just in a different place.
I washed my hands and watched the women chatter away, feeling the sheer amount of hormones in the room like a wave. As I walked out, I did so knowing that chapter of my life is done. Closed. Over. Many things in life bother me and trouble me still, but not this. I am 100% at peace with the twins being the only children I will ever give birth to. I wish those other women luck and happiness, and I walk out the door.