It wasn’t as easy as I thought.
You see, long, long ago, when I was but a wee college student, I’d had some complications with my woman parts that resulted in the loss of my left ovary. It was scary, and it hurt, but I didn’t think that much about it in terms of my candidacy for motherhood. A few years later I again had some “issues” and had to have half of my right ovary removed. At the time the gynecologist hinted that I might want to consider getting pregnant sooner rather than later, but it was as if she spoke from the bottom of some long, dark tunnel—I was busy, I had places to go and poems to write—no way was I going to spelunk into that.
Let me say that for a fairly intelligent, somewhat emancipated and familiar-with-my-body-parts kind of gal, I was pretty clueless about how all the fertility stuff worked. I knew how not to get pregnant, but the opposite, not so good. I knew there were eggs, and tubes, and swimming and a meeting of sperm and egg somewhere in the tubes, but I paid no attention to when I ovulated, and I didn’t even know the incredible, amazing part about being born with the capacity to produce a certain number of eggs and that if I was lucky, my one little piece of left ovary would keep on keepin’ on, fulfilling that contract. So I blithely surveyed the wreckage and did my best Scarett O’Hara imitation: I’ll think about that…tomorrow.
Frankly, my body didn’t give a damn about what I was and wasn’t willing to acknowledge, it just kept ticking away, sending my eggs into the void where they were met by nobody and nothing, until I came home from Breadloaf and announced to my husband it was time.
And…nothing happened. Well, something happened, but nothing came from the something that happened and this was repeated to the point where I couldn’t stand the something or the nothing. All I wanted was that pink line in the little window of the plastic magic wand.
If life were a movie, this would’ve been the point where the female protaganist gets a clue. At the very least, someone would do a voice over and ask some pertinent questions. Like what was going on with me that I suddenly felt such urgency to reproduce? Was it all biological imperative, or could it have something to do with the fact that I’d been sending my manuscript around for a few years and it remained an orphan? Close but no cigar, over and over, until instead of feeling grateful and lucky to get into a place like MacDowell or Breadloaf, I dreaded the moment when the other writers I met would ask: do you have a book? No, not yet. No, almost. Nope, got my fingers crossed. NO, dammit, I do not have a &%@# book!
So, maybe it wasn’t so much about a yearning toward motherhood, but a turning away from a path I thought might be closed to me: the baby became the book I didn’t have, and when I couldn’t become pregnant the book became the baby I couldn’t have. At least, that’s what I think now. Since life isn’t a movie I didn’t have any of this self-awareness at the time. I just felt angry, and sad, and frustrated. I felt like my mother.
Next week: time to call in the experts…