I was standing under a tree in the sunshine this afternoon, drinking coffee, watching a robin being pert among the bluebells, and I was horribly, horribly sad. Doesn’t seem quite right, does it?
I am blaming it, for moment, on this being the anniversary of That Cycle, the one where I got pregnant for the first time – so exciting for an infertile girl! – and then miscarried (on my 33rd birthday. Did I mention that? Well, I shall mention it again, because it fucking sucks).
It has been three years, and I have had several miscarriages since, and none of them have ever hurt as much as that first one.
Dear internets, on days like today, I really don’t think I’m ever going to have a biological child. And I feel I am denying H the chance to have a biological child. H says he’d rather have me childless than someone else and half-a-dozen darling babies, and that somehow makes me feel worse. I sometimes don’t think I deserve an H. Not just because I’m infertile, but also because I am just a little useless, one of those stereotypical over-educated under-achievers (I have three, count ’em, three degrees. I get paid less than a bus driver. Yay higher education). I’m also a shit house-keeper, I’m untidy, I occasionally clean the bathrooms or do laundry but I never iron, and even though I’m technically the better cook H does most of the cooking these days (this last is because every time the fog of despair and misery that makes me nearly non-functional for a good couple of months after each miscarriage starts to lift… I miscarry again. But still).
I strongly feel that if I’m not going to have motherhood to be getting on with, I ought to be doing something else worthwhile with my life. Ideally, in Magic Rainbow-Farting Unicorn-World, I am a mother and I am doing something else worthwhile – feminism, you see – but this is Britain in 2011 and I haven’t seen a unicorn of any kind of trumpery for years.
And I’ve got myself stuck. I’ve been working at Current Place of Employment about as long as I’ve been trying to have a child. While I was waiting to have this benighted child, I upped my qualifications and got a promotion. I have worked this more senior role (still paid jack-shit, oh the joys of academic support) for three years, nearly, and I am bored now, and completely out of promotion prospects unless my boss runs away to Chile with an acrobat, but, dear internets, I have earned full maternity leave now, and Current Place of Employment are being angelic about my deteriorating health issues; and no employer in their right mind would take me on as I am now, and the economy is in crisis, and every academic library in Britain is down-sizing and I daren’t leave.
I think it is this that really boils my piss (oh, how I love that phrase. Thank you again, Anonymous). Infertility and recurrent miscarriage has, yes, obviously screwed over my plans for a family. But it has also screwed over my plans for everything. Everything. The career risks I didn’t take because I was trying for a family have become the career risks I can’t take because my health is too fucked, and I daren’t lose my benefits just in case (horrible cretinous mind-fuck in and of itself, that one).
I can honestly assure you all, and H, that this is not how I intended to spend my 30s.
So, no doubt some of you are wondering why don’t I just leap forth, live my life, do my thing, take my risks?
Because, to do so, I’d have to let go of that last shred of hope and retire the Cute Ute. I’m serious. All that work I missed for health reasons? My record is marked. I’d have to be able to assure a future employer that I would not be taking a week in every four or five off. Would you employ someone who disappeared at irregular intervals for days on end? No? Didn’t think so. And, before you all start ranting about employment law and what have you, I’d need to be strong enough, and healthy enough, physically and emotionally, to move on, and to do that, yes, I’d need to retire the Cute Ute. Even if I was going to go self-employed/free-lance again. Especially then – no sick pay, remember? To do anything new and brave I’d need to have no more periods from hell. No more anaemia. No more persistant, tiring pain, for days and weeks after my period has ended. No more migraines. No more miscarriages. No more grief, no more depression.
It’s a big ask. A life for a life kind of ask.