Monday, October 15, 2012
Feeling Through the Unknown
When I walk the baby aisle, I don't always stop and touch things. That's crazy. I certainly don't always buy something, but every once in a while something calls to me and I find myself sneaking it into my basket, then looking around to see if anyone else noticed. Today, that thing was a bib with a little turtle on it that said "Worth the wait." Because the promise is that when that day comes for me when I have use for such a thing again, she will have been worth the wait.
At the checkout stand the clerk scanned the bib and asked, "Do you need a gift receipt?"
I paused to stare at her. "No." I answered curtly. I felt as though she'd analyzed the rest of my purchase and determined that dog treats, tampons, a bottle of wine and a baby bib comprise the shopping list of a lonely, single woman with a baby shower to go to this weekend. I snatched my bags and huffed to my car, frustrated that she'd recognized something was amiss.
Once upon a time, I thought I was quite fearless. At the first faint lines of the first positive pregnancy test back in April of my first year of marriage, I wanted to tell everyone. Ben insisted we wait a couple of days but I couldn't understand why. I wasn't afraid. Even after we miscarried that baby and the doctor advised us to wait three months before trying again, I scoffed at her concerns even while obeying her orders.
The second time around I was anxious to share our news again, but we held off until we were in the clear, past the point when I'd miscarried the first baby. Then the doctor gave us Gabriel's diagnosis, a condition I had never heard of described by the frightful words "incompatible with life." While I was afraid of what was going to happen and even afraid how I would feel seeing my child with this strange defect, I wouldn't let my fear guide my decisions. I had this chance to do something big; I had this chance to give him everything, to give him life when most women would not. I carried Gabriel up until his due date, struggled through labor as long as I could without an epidural, prepared to meet my son and take his pictures and baptize him because my biggest fear was squandering this opportunity to carry and give birth to my son.
"Are you going to try again?" people would ask, and I would say "Of course. I'll never stop trying." Even as my heart heals from the loss of my son and mends after the death of my marriage, I know that I don't regret opening myself up to the chance to be in love with both Gabriel and Ben. I look forward to feeling that way again. The risk scares me, but not enough to keep me from trying again.
Why, then, am I so gripped with fear by the current circumstances in my life? Why am I so afraid of being alone? Why does the clock in my head tick so loudly? Sitting among a group of men at the bar yesterday I took a self-deprecating jab at my family status and three men promptly responded "You're young" and continued to assure me that I would be fine. And I assured them that I knew I would be, even though I don't really know any such thing.
I tell myself that I am just a product of my circumstances, someone who knows that life is short and that we're not guaranteed another moment. But that's not really what concerns me or what frightens me. What scares me is how little control I have over that part of my life. It's not something that can be "fixed," not a problem I can solve, not a situation I can make happen. It's entirely possible that I'll be a single, childless mother for the rest of my life. I just don't know. More importantly, I just can't fix it. I'm just sort of feeling blindly through all of this, anxious and almost desparate to get out of this, and I guess that's what really scares me.