"...menstruation was always a little sad - but it was also a new beginning. I was being given another chance."Erica Jong, Fear of Flying
I went for coffee with two colleagues the other day and was asked outright, "are you going to have children?", and "when are you going to have children?".
I try never to ask such questions. I prefer to ask "would you like to have children?".
There is no way I could answer those questions without lying. Well, actually there is, and I think I did. My response was to shrug my shoulders and say, "I don't know. Whenever. Who can say?" or something along those lines.
Had I been asked "would you like to have children?" however, my answer would have been, "yes, I would. I would like to do that some day."
Of course the colleague in question had no way of knowing I was recovering from a miscarriage. I wonder how he would have felt if my answer had been, "how can I possibly know whether I'm going to have children? This isn't something you can predict. Until 10 days ago I thought I was going to have my first baby 7 months from now but then it died and now I'm not. So, how can I possibly answer your questions as to whether and when I will have children when nature seems to have a mind of its own?"
That would have been really cruel, plus I didn't want to expose my personal life whilst I was still feeling vulnerable, but it might have made this man think about his words a bit more. To be fair to him, he probably has little idea that life can do this to you. His kids arrived without much warning when he was in his early twenties and courting a woman he hadn't yet made the mental or emotional commitment to be with for life. Of course, now he's with her for life and sometimes I wonder whether he's happy. So you see, our lives have taken completely different paths.
People do say stupid things though. The doctor advised me not to tell anyone at work the real reason for my day off last Friday. He said to tell them I was having a "minor procedure" because people will unintentionally say stupid things. As it is, I only had to tell my boss because no one else asked. They all just assumed I was doing something nice and said "enjoy". "Sure, I'll try to remember that whilst I'm waking up from the anaesthetic." Actually I did sort of enjoy it. It was very relaxing but also uncomfortable and exhausting.
It wasn't exactly a cruel coincidence that I was asked this question less than a week after losing my pregnancy because people (especially people with children) ask it a lot. This particular colleague absolutely loves having children to the point where he actually pities people who don't, or who have left it too late. I pity him for having such a narrow mind, putting all his eggs in one basket and failing to see in a positive light the many alternative paths life can take. On the other hand, I do understand his point of view and think it's lovely that he's such a devoted dad.
In stark contrast the third member of our coffee club has been saying some rather negative things about her children recently. I was sure she'd twigged on I was pregnant a few weeks ago when she was drilling me as to why I was drinking de-caff. But then a few days later she was talking about what a bind children can be, how they take over your life, you have no time for exercise and doing your own thing, it's an incredible responsibility, if you say the wrong thing your child could grow up to be a murderer (she's a tad neurotic). She told me she'd never wanted children. I asked what changed her mind (she has three!) and she said "well, I haven't really". I thought that was funny but also sad. The poor woman is divorced and has seemingly given up her life for her kids. She's constantly arguing with her 16 year old daughter and they have a personality clash that puts them in an enduring battle of wills. (Perhaps that's just life with a teenager.) I think that now her daughter is 16 perhaps she can start living her own life a bit more... but maybe so much time has passed that she doesn't know how to. Sometimes I wonder if she's trying to warn me what I'll be getting myself into should I decide to have children.
This wasn't actually what I'd intended to write about in this post. I wanted to give an update on how I'm doing. Pretty damn fantastic, thank you for asking. I had a great yoga session on Monday which hurt for about 36 hours afterwards, I made it to the gym twice and I did pilates this morning. My cardio fitness is still a bit weak; I only managed 17 minutes at about 60-70 rpm on the cross trainer on Tuesday, whereas a couple of months ago I could have done 20-30 mins and reached over 100 rpm. My heartbeat hovered around the 130 bpm mark, whereas I used to get to 150-160. However, on Thursday I improved to 20 minutes and got my revs up to about 85 per minute (not consistently though). It's so nice to have energy again, to be able to get up early in the morning and do my physio exercises and yoga, get the cats sorted, arrive at work early enough to get a spot in the staff carpark, and still have the energy to do exercise after work, cook dinner, wash up and get lunch ready for the next day.
Emotionally it's a bit more difficult. I'm not weepy or anything but I get irritated by conversations and questions, such as the one mentioned above. I'm terrified that someone I know is going to unexpectedly tell me she's pregnant. Why would that terrify me? Well, that in itself doesn't but the emotions I may experience in response are what scare me. I'm trying to prepare myself but you never really know how you're going to feel until something like this actually happens. Now that I've emotionally prepared myself (ish) for starting a family I have this childish desire to be the first, or rather next, person to do it of everyone I know. I'm almost feeling competitive about it, although I realise it's not a race and I still don't want a Christmas baby. It's a crazy situation because I really don't mind when we do start a family... but I still want to be the next to do it, which makes me want to do it now just to be sure I'll get in there first. I think second babies will bother me far less, it's the first babies that I'm worried about. The silly thing is that the more unexpected it is, the more the thought of it bothers me, which is a bit of a paradox. If I think of the people I suppose are least likely to get pregnant, then imagine them telling me they're pregnant before I am, are they then still the least expected to get pregnant? Or does my imagining this whole thing mean that they are now more expected to get pregnant? And are those who I'm not considering, or who I think could get pregnant, now the least expected? In which case, am I setting myself up for an emotional avalanche as those I least expect to get pregnant are actually most likely to?
See how muddled my brain is? Hormones! They're still not settled. I'm actually perfectly sane.
UPDATE: Friday night. I'm tired. I think the week at work, getting back into exercise, hormones shifting and doing pilates with my physio this morning have taken their toll. It's understandable, I suppose, but I feel like I've let friends down as I was supposed to call around tonight. Hopefully they'll understand. We've also been invited for dinner at someone's house tomorrow night. I think we'll decline as we're planning on doing a long walk with them in the morning, plus I haven't cleaned or tidied the house since before I got sick and we have washing etc. to do for our holidays and I really don't want to take on too much. I feel bad though because this couple don't know about the pregnancy so what's my excuse? I shouldn't really mind what people think but I do hate feeling like a wet blanket. Oh well. Onwards and upwards.