Saturday, December 29, 2007


"Is this your first?"

That's the question people ask -- in the deli, in yoga classes -- when they find out you're pregnant. It's a question I can't quite bring myself to answer.

My first would be about a year old now. Maybe he'd be walking. (For some reason I feel it was a boy.)

My second and third -- identical twin boys -- would have been born this month.

My fourth stopped developing about five weeks ago, and its sibling -- my fifth -- still seems to be around, kenina hora.

Yesterday after my prenatal yoga class, I went to a crowded taqueria for lunch. A woman from my class sat down to share my table. In talking about our pregnancies, we discussed our past ones. I realized that for the third time in a month, I shared very personal information about my miscarriages with someone I barely know.

I have fought so hard to become a mom. In my life, I've dealt with major work difficulties, breakups, and family health crises. I fought to lose and keep off 75 pounds, and I trained myself to run half marathons. But nothing has been harder than trying to conceive. And nothing has been harder than staying on track after disappointment upon disappointment. So when a woman sits down at a restaurant to share chips and salsa with me, I can't just blithely pretend that this pregnancy came easily. Infertility and miscarriage are part of this narrative, and I don't feel the need to whitewash it. Moreover, I feel that to get me, and to get what this pregnancy means to me, you need the back story.

No, this isn't my first baby. It'll hopefully be my first child, but it isn't the first time a living being has taken up residence in my womb and in my heart.


Ninefirefly said...

I like that. I too have had a hitchhiker in my womb in the past and the question "Do you have any kids?" isa hard on to answer for me right now. I'm glad your pregnancy is going well.

akeeyu said...

I never tell people that Fitz-Hume and Millbarge will be our first children (knock everything).

My standard answer is "This is my fourth pregnancy, and I have a wonderful stepdaughter."

Sometimes people act like saying this is somehow rude, as if I shouldn't mention it in public, should be captain bringdown, should just smile and shut the hell up about the miscarriages in particular.

All I know is that given the choice between offending some random stranger and offending my stepdaughter by not acknowledging that yes, she is my first child, of offending the part of myself where I remember BE and GE and the first miscarriage, I'll take the stranger.

Malky B. said...

Great post. I hate that question too especially when asked in a maternity store. When I was expecting my daughter, I went back to some of the same stores I'd gone to when expecting my first that was stillborn so that was a particularly strange place to be asked. I said "hopefully this will be my first child, but no this isn't my first pregnancy".

tiff said...

Wonderful post.

mrsbluemont of said...

This post has been on my heart since you first put it up. I admire your wisdom and courage and look up to you immensely. Now I need to get to reading your archives. I wish you well and am so happy for you. ox