“So, I’m going to need you to go ahead and give me a semen sample.”
Ok. No. That’s not right.
“So the thing is, if I’m going to go and get my reproductive situation assessed for the future… then… maybe we should talk about the future… and when that might start.”
Not bad. A little Jerry McGuire-ish, but still down to earth. Was it maybe a little too clinical?
We were still at the hospital after our visit with the OB and I had decided to jump on my doctor’s advice to talk with Cap about how he felt about maybe, possibly, kind of, sort of, having kids with me someday (but you know, no biggie). Also, I had decided that the food court was the perfect setting for this super casual discussion.
I toyed with the lid of my coffee, watching him with slit, calculating eyes. He stared back at me a little unnerved, shifting under my gaze.
“You’re uh – you’re eating your coffee cup. I mean you’re really chewing on it.”
I stopped mid-bite and narrowed my stare even more.
“Look. I don’t know how I feel about getting married ever again. Because I’m not even formally divorced yet. But kids are awesome and I know I’m not done having them. So if you want to have them with me that’s great, but if you don’t then we’ll have to rethink what we’re doing here because frankly I’ve got to start looking at this seriously if I want to have a shot even in the next 5 years. So. I’m going to get myself checked out to see what my reproductive snapshot is, and if you’re into it that’s great. You can come along and get checked out too. And if you’re not then, well, um, I don’t know. But there’s no point in looking at frozen embryos without sperm. And how weird would it be to pick out sperm donors together when you have some? I mean, if you want to have kids with me one day anyway?”
Wow. Smooth. That was the worst diatribe. Ever.
“Woah, woah, woah! Where did that… hold on.. so I’m just like…sperm to you or something?”
“NO! Oh my god no. I love you! I love you and I think we might want to make some frozen embryos together. I mean, or kids. Or at least just going to this appointment together… right?”
For what seemed like an eternity, Cap assessed the situation, studied my face, and then summarized:
“Ok. Basically – let me see if I have this straight – I need to know if we want to have kids together by the time your specialist appointment comes around?”
“Well, I – I think so? But not for right now. You'd only have to know now if you wanted to have them in the future. And I mean, don’t you kind of know now?”
“Kat. We haven’t even been on a vacation yet. You know? What if we just relax and enjoy life together a bit?”
“So… you don’t want to have kids with me.” I could feel my heart cracking.
“No. I do. But … this fertility thing makes you…” He was staring at the table. He couldn’t look at me.
“Makes me what?”
“It’s making you crazy.” He said it so quietly I wasn’t sure I heard right.
“But—but I’m not crazy. I’m just being proactive… I mean I know how hard it is for me to have kids. But I really… I’m a good mom. I love being a mom—”
“Yes you are. And you’re not crazy, but this is MAKING you crazy. Think about it. You are locked away in the past, Kat. Pregnancy means scary memories and a world of pain to you. You get angry about it a lot. And when you talk about it you get… well… really… intense. And lost. I think this fertility appointment is a bad idea. I think you’re trying too hard. I think that you should just, I don’t know… stop.”
“You so don’t get it.” The crack was spreading and I could feel my breath get ragged and shallow. Oh no. I’m going to ugly cry right here in the food court.
“I do get it. I do. And I am not saying this to get out of going to an appointment. I’m saying this because I love you. You have to understand that right now, for whatever reason, having kids is turning into your ‘bad place’. You need to just breathe, and enjoy what you have! Doesn’t that make sense?”
As Cap was talking, my brain cobbled together a montage of my not-so-finest moments. The torture of giving away some of my baby gear; the pain of recalling losses; the involuntary jealousy that flared in my heart for other moms; the empty hours of wishing I could give my daughter a sibling; the scream-crying in the fetal position when a random trigger set off my PTSD.
It was like seeing myself in a mirror everyone had kept hidden from me for a long time.
I was holding on so tight. Too tight.
He was right.
“I’m just saying” he said gently, “that you need to be ok with not having any more kids. Because if you don’t have any more whether we go through every fertility procedure in the world or not… you’ll be so focused on what you don’t have, that you’re never going to let yourself be happy again.”
And that was it.
All of a sudden I had no words. None. I tried in vain to reach for them, to somehow pull them into existence, but they all evaded me. I had no rebuttal. I had nothing.
And I was wailing in the food court.
“Shhhhhh… It’s ok, baby. It’s ok.”
I don’t know when he had come over to hold me but he did. And I sat there sobbing into his shoulder, my pride crumbling, and the long overdo mourning of saying goodbye to my past bubbling over.
I don’t know how long that went on. I really couldn't tell you. No one seemed to mind, or notice, or if they did they gently gave us a wide berth. I cried until I felt wrung out and parched, and then I cried some more.
Cap was right. It was time to let go. It was time to embrace what I did have. It was time to be grateful, and in the now —not always rushing toward the land of what could be.
And I knew that it didn’t mean everything was over. But I did know that it was over for now.
After plotting every step towards my second round of motherhood for so long, I didn’t know how I was about to start changing course, but I knew that I had to figure it out fast.
My happiness depended on it.