I have wanted to be pregnant for as long as I can remember.
Have babies, oh dear yes. But I am not one of those women who wanted to have a stork magically drop off a baby. I wanted to be pregnant. I wanted to be round and full and radiant. I wanted that glow a pregnant woman gets as she stops and gently touches her swollen belly, smiling at no one and everyone as her new being kicks and tumbles inside of her. I wanted morning sickness and swollen feet and a sore lower back so I could place my hand there dramatically and sigh as I lowered my giant pregnant self onto the sofa. I wanted every single part of it because every part meant I was growing a new little person. Not everyone is lucky enough to experience pregnancy. I wanted to appreciate every second of it.
I started taking prenatal vitamins in high school. "They have everything a woman needs," I would tell people when they asked. Secretly it was in case I got knocked up. In France I discovered the phenomenal world of herbs. Anything that related to the reproductive system I knew about. I had a binder filled with notes about what plants helped prepare and strengthen the uterus, what helped with pregnancy-related nausea or hypertension, how to stop early contractions, how to induce labor, what herbs helped labor progress and contractions strengthen, what plants helped the body heal postpartum, what magic nature provided to help stimulate the flow of milk or help baby sleep better at night. Every now and then I would sneak the notebook off the shelf and leaf through page after page, almost in tears with excitement that some day I might be able to use all of the information I had so carefully cataloged to help me, pregnant me and my little baby.
I was ready at sixteen to be pregnant. Not in the typical adolescent "Awww, I want babies someday" type of way. But a primal, physical need to be with child. Whenever I was around someone lucky enough to have a baby in their belly I literally felt my uterus pulled towards their fertile body. I sometimes named the eggs I released during ovulation. Often when I bled each month, I wept not because of hormones, but because I was mourning an empty womb; that time symbolized the passing of yet another childless month.
I was ready.
And yet I was patient. When I met my husband, I knew. Not instantly; it wasn't love at first sight, but rather deep intrigue and passion. It was love soon thereafter. It had taken me moving to France to find him and I knew that I could not find a better father for my children in all of the world. But he was young and he was not ready and I did not need to ask him to know all of this. I waited patiently, knowing when he was ready he would tell me and he would give me the world in ways I had never imagined possible.
He knew I had been ready when we met and he did not need to ask me to know all of this. He saw my eyes glance longingly at women with their bellies smooth and round like a bowl of wood. When we got married he whispered gently in my ear, "Now I am going to call you Madame until the day I can call you maman." I blushed and nearly fainted.
Thanksgiving of 2011 he was finally ready.
"It's never going to be the right time," he told me. "And it is always the right time." I smiled. He smiled. "Let's do this. I want to call you maman."
We decided we would start trying in January. I immediately stopped drinking alcohol, crossed the street whenever someone approached smoking a cigarette and drank gallons of herbal teas every day to tone my uterus, all in the name of preparing my body to be with child. Red raspberry leaf; nettles; oat straw. I bought cases of Mommy-to-be and Pregnancy blends from our local co-op. I meditated, mindfully visualizing becoming rounder and fuller with every day. I devoured any literature about pregnancy I could get my hands on, carefully copying down pertinent passages in my ever-growing binder.
The holidays came and went in a foggy haze; we were drunk on dreams of what life would be like the following year with our little miracle. When we kissed on New Years' Eve, it was epic. January had never so fully symbolized a new beginning.
I wanted this baby and this pregnancy more than anything I had ever wanted in my life.
A few months before getting pregnant, I had a conversation with some co-workers about being pregnant. Everyone was jokingly saying if they were going to have kids, they'd want to get it over with all at once by having multiples, twins or even triplets.
"I would never want to have twins," I started, dead serious. "Not because I don't want lots of children, because I do, but because I so want to experience being pregnant as many times as I can!"
Everyone looked at me like I was crazy. Maybe I am crazy. But how often do you get to be pregnant in this day and age? I am not Catholic and I am not rich. Once or twice, three tops, that's it! How many things that are so mind-blowingly life-altering do you get to do in your life? Why wouldn't you want to experience it as many times as you possibly could?
January came and with it my first ovulation. I knew my body like clockwork from years of family planning, though with opposite intentions. I knew exactly when the egg was released; I could feel a slight pinch. I knew which phase the moon was in during each stage of my cycle. I knew exactly when I was most fertile. I knew the exact window of time in which I could become pregnant.
It made making a baby the least romantic thing I have ever done. It was a daily struggle.
I wanted this baby to be natural. To be the result of my husband and I loving each other in the most intimate way. I did not want this baby to be the result of crazy calculations and heightened expectations. But there I was, upside down on the couch after making love like Phoebe from Friends, trying to let gravity help the best swimmers get to the egg faster.
January came and went. February came and went. Only one pink line on each white stick. I was devastated.
After two horribly long, horribly stressful months I gave up the game. Every day had been the worst day because I was not yet pregnant. Hours felt like years. I bought pregnancy tests in bulk. My poor husband had suddenly found himself married to a crazy person.
By March I decided enough was enough. I concluded the only way I could not know when the time was right was by not knowing the time at all. I hid all calendars, changed the date on my phone and purposefully avoided looking at the night sky so as to not accidentally see the moon. I continued to drink tea and take my vitamins, to exercise and meditate, but I stopped trying to visualize myself getting pregnant and instead focused on relaxing. I returned all the pregnancy books to the library and checked out novels instead. I started drinking the occasional beer (or two or three) or glass (or two or three) of wine. I stopped seeing my husband as a sperm-provider and remembered all the reasons I had fallen in love with him in the first place.
We decided we needed a change and started looking for a new place. We found the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood at the perfect price. And as we starting packing all of our belongings I felt the pinch but ignored it. Put it off as a cramp from heavy lifting. And the next day when I felt a twinge again and frantically started looking for a calender and counting backwards to my last cycle I stopped myself and laughed, relaxing at the thought that I had finally missed count and had no idea where I was. No idea what was my body and what was the influence of the outside world.
Little did I know I knew my body better than I ever could have imagined.
And so, as my husband and I moved all of our belongings by ourselves into our new home, lifting heavy object after heavy object and drinking beer after beer (a necessity to any successful moving day, no doubt), we were completely oblivious to the fact that I was gestating not just one, but two.
Little did we know my deepest desire had come true in ways we didn't think were possible. Be careful what you wish for. Sometimes life delivers on those wishes.
I didn't know it yet, but I was pregnant.
Finding out you're pregnant.