It was my birthday on Thursday. I am 37.
I wouldn’t mind being 37 in the least if it weren’t for the ‘and barren’ thing. Why else should I mind being 37, if not because I’ve spent my entire 30s so far failing (sometimes bloodily, spectacularly) to have a child? Oh, and getting a job and a promotion and a degree, which I keep mysteriously forgetting about. It’s not like I’ve spent 7 years exclusively either flat on my back on my chaise longue or flat on my back on the ultrasound table. But it somehow feels like it.
Tomorrow, H and I are going away for a week, for a holiday. We always have a holiday this time of year, partly because it is my birthday, you know, and partly because I got a miscarriage for my 33rd birthday and it was such a long, drawn-out mess of a thing, and I’ve not only never got over it, but it has come to stand for All The Other Miscarriages And Continuing Lack Of Baby. So my birthday is partly a pleasant day of being sent cards and given presents and being taken out for dinner and such, and partly the pointiest day in a week or so made up entirely of things to bruise oneself upon. It’s easier to be Somewhere Else, and not trapped in the routine of the everyday which won’t even have the decency to be an everyday that includes small sticky fingers, nappies, push-chairs, very small jelly sandals, and someone asking me ‘why? Why? Why, Mummy? Why?’ seventeen million times a minute.
Because of the timing of The Period, H and I didn’t go away this week as originally planned. So on my birthday, I went to work (still feeling rather fragile, as The Period has hob-nailed boots). Whereapon all the ladies who are on maternity leave came in to show the office their babies. Which, you know, fair enough, but on my birthday? With all its pre-existing pointy-bruisy-ouchy bits? Thanks, Universe. And then there was a spate of ultrasound pictures on FB – you know, cute ones, showing wee spines and skulls and things, rather than the ones I’m used to, which show ovarian cysts and adenomyosis and empty uterine cavities and, occasionally, little empty collapsing gestational sacs surrounded by haemorrhage.
The thing about Not Getting Over It, is that, in my case at least, nothing has happened to get me over it. Time has passed, yes, but in that time I’ve had more losses, and my health has got worse, which have between them increased my distress. My chances of having a living child have, of course, shrunk, because time has passed, which in itself fucking sucks rancid arse and would be plenty to be depressed about. I do not have a living child, which I am given to understand is a joyful event that provides a great deal of distraction and healing, even if he or she can never ‘replace’ or ‘make up for’ the lost ones. So I am sad. I am sad on my birthday, and I am sad the week after my birthday, and I am sad when I should be happy for people, and I am sad when sad things happen to people, and I am sad when doing laundry and sad when watching telly and sad when standing on the bus and sad when walking along the street and sad when I go to bed and sad when I get up in the morning.
This is not a totally joyless soul-crushing sadness. I still laugh at jokes and enjoy books (oh, I got books for my birthday! I love getting books for my birthday!) and put on pretty sun-dresses and wax my legs (OW) and get excited about the holiday H and I are just about to go on. It’s just, I might cry at the drop of a hat. Hell, I cried when some chap I’d never heard of cried when he was given a gold medal on the Chelsea Flower Show. And I Compleeeeeetely Lost My Temper when we discovered the moths had got back in again and eaten a hole in my hand-knit slipper-sock (admittedly the stupid sock had been abandoned under the bed since Christmas because it had felted and I had to fight like a ninja to get it on over my heel, but still. I knitted it. Moth ate it. Now I have to Clean All The Things and spray entire bedroom with Moth Murderer TM). And, of course, everything beautiful makes me sad. The sunshine, the birch-trees tossing their heads in the breeze, the birds on the bird-feeder, roses, H singing, the neighbour’s baby. Everything I love is full of sadness.
This too shall pass, no doubt. And at least I am not feeling the horrible ugly depressed stuck-in-a-trench way I used to, and at least things still are beautiful. It’s just, I’m 37, and I want to have a child, and every where I look, slammed doors, locked windows, hoops to jump through (mostly very high, very small, and on fire), ‘no thoroughfare’ signs, paths being blocked off, bridges being dismantled. Eventually the only path left will be the one sign-posted ‘fuck this shit, I’m childless’. One day I will be OK with that. Today I am sad.