Pretend they’re happy tears.

I’m a terrible, horrible person. You probably are, too. But we’re talking about me. Get your own blog.


See, a friend has received a great blessing. She’s so happy, and excited.

On the surface, I am gracious and happy for my friend. But inside? Inside, I look like every monster from every 1950s B-movie horror show. I have fangs and scales and bulging eyes and bad, bad breath. I’m ugly.

I look like this. But worse. Definitely with more nose hair.

My friend is pregnant.

Now, in the land of Childless and Going With It, you aren’t supposed to feel feelings when someone else has a baby. If you didn’t spend a gajillion dollars on IVF until it took, or you didn’t pursue every avenue of adoption until your house was filled with 27 kids, well, you just didn’t want parenthood bad enough. You didn’t earn the right to grieve.

But I’m still here. And I’m still grieving. And I feel horrible for feeling so ugly about my friend’s good news.

She will be an amazing mother. I truly wish her and her lucky little baby every joy and blessing. I can’t wait to smell that baby’s head, because baby heads are the best.

But it also makes me sad.

Why wasn’t it me?

Why am I one of three childless women I know in, like, the whole world? Why does this still hurt? Why do I feel like a defective typewriter?

I was never one of those women whose lives would be meaningless without kids. Longtime readers know that there was a time when I was pretty actively in the “Oh, hell no” camp when it came to children. But people change, and situations change, and I fell in love and I wanted to have a family with this amazing man. It just didn’t turn out quite the way we planned.

Our line in the infertility sand was no treatments that would increase my breast cancer risk. With my family history, this precaution wasn’t just lip service – it was necessary. So, our treatment options were limited.

As for adoption? My parents offered to help financially. It felt very “How much for zee little gurl?” But it didn’t feel right. My husband and I tabled adoption talk until we could right our emotional ships. And then it just never felt like the right time to pursue adoption. And then we realized it wasn’t right for us at all. We will contribute to the world in other ways.

And so, here we are.

We make grandiose proclamations like, “Since we don’t have to put anyone through college, we should go on fabulous vacations!” And yet, we can’t agree on where to go. We set up college funds for our nieces and nephews, and go back to the same beachfront hotel year after year. And year after year, I am troubled by seeing the same poolside waiter, and I wonder if he has any retirement savings at all. I am redirecting my maternal instincts.

This is life. This is our life.

We’ve made peace with a world where we don’t have kids. When a teacher pal mentioned a high school student who was pregnant and half-joked that she’d get the girl to give us her baby, I wasn’t filled with hope. I was filled with panic, and with dread at the thought of having to say, “That’s not our baby. No.”

Because we don’t have a baby. We won’t. I had to shut that door because I couldn’t move forward while still contemplating the “maybe.” I had to say “no” for my own emotional survival, and to grow.

I get tired of friends and random people who can’t talk about anything but kids, or who assume that everyone has kids, or who give me the sad head tilt of infertility empathy. If you really want to be empathetic, talk about something besides your kid. Also, buy me a drink. Because no 4-year-old is going to wake me up at 5 a.m. and I can sleep it off.

But if you really want to be kind? Please don’t judge me too harshly. When I cry at a friend’s good news and may or may not be successful in playing it off as happy tears? Let it go. Play along. Later, act like you can’t tell I just sobbed in the ladies’ room.

I’m happy for my friend. I can’t wait to smell that downy baby noggin. But it’s all just a bit much.

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  • Reply BlueBells March 12, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    We all love you out here. Thank you for the honesty.

  • Reply Anonymous March 12, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    If you ever want to go out for a drink and talk about dogs and blogging and whatever else, just say the word!

  • Reply slow panic March 12, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    you know you are not a monster right? ok, good.

    i would LOVE to buy you a drink and I promise I wouldn't talk about my kids. OR we could make up a drinking game where if I did talk about my kids you could slap me and I would have to buy you another drink.

    seriously though, sending love and hugs and hopes that people will keep their mouths shut when they should.

  • Reply Jen Anderson March 12, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    I'm right there with you. I have a large extended family, so there's always a new baby for everyone to fuss over. The next one up will be my niece, so I'm relieved that my parents will be grandparents without any input form me. So much so that I'm not even jealous.

    But the last cousin who had a baby? I decided that I was going to have to skip that kid. I've never touched her – which isn't hard to get away with because there are so many relatives competing for baby time.

    Actually, that was the last baby but one. The most recent baby of a cousin in my family was surprise baby #3 to a fertility doc. I had trouble even looking at her while she was pregnant.

    So now you know 4 women in the same boat.

  • Reply Violet March 13, 2015 at 1:50 am

    I will forever be thankful that my sister announced her second pregnancy on my parents' porch at dusk on a warm summer evening because no one could see my reaction. Shock, pain and anger all in one nuclear detonation. That baby is now a very troubled 17-year-old and I still remember how I felt when her existence was announced and I'm still jealous of my sisters' children.

    I just turned 50. I had a hysterectomy 8 years ago. I still feel envy and bitterness when I hear about someone's pregnancy or, these days, someone's new grandchild.

    I get it. It fucking sucks.

  • Reply Suburban Correspondent March 13, 2015 at 3:29 am

    Your honesty is awesome. I do have kids, but I always did feel that I never could have adopted. I just don't have it in me.

  • Reply Becky March 13, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    I think we all have moments where we are outwardly happy and inwardly not so happy.

  • Reply Pam Todd Klein March 13, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Let's do lunch. And we'll drink to you being an actual real person.

  • Reply Karen (formerly kcinnova) March 14, 2015 at 1:05 am

    You're definitely not a monster. You are human.

    I cried for hours when my SIL (who had given us to think she didn't want kids) announced her pregnancy, while I had been crying every month for more than a year. So in my imperfect, feeble way, I get it.

    When #2 came along so quickly on the heels of #1, I hesitated to tell our best friends because they had been trying for longer than we had ourselves. I didn't want to hurt their feelings.
    I'm sure your friends don't want to hurt your feelings, either.

    And if I was privileged enough to take you out for a drink, we'd totally have the deal that slow panic suggested.

  • Reply Green Girl in Wisconsin March 14, 2015 at 3:36 am

    I'm sending you a huge hug, Cha Cha. You are the furthest thing from a monster EVER. You are wonderful and it's a hard thing to accept a bad hand.

  • Reply Kari March 19, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Oh friend, let it out.
    We love you.
    And what you are feeling is not at all monster, its called being a human.
    We are here for you.

  • Reply Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect March 26, 2015 at 12:47 am

    I think sometimes tears can be happy and sad and mad all at the same time. Also? I love talking about not-kids. So much.

    Sending virtual hugs down the road (even though, yes, I see that you wrote this two weeks ago and might not be crying anymore, this time, right now).

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