Monday, March 06, 2006

That Thing We Take for Granted...

Yesterday, while idly flipping through blogs, I happened upon one called "and I wasted all that birth control" which chronicles one couples journey through infertility, loss of children, and worried excitement over a current pregnancy. From there, I read some other blogs with similar themes. Then, this morning, I read over at Quinn's that she had had an infertility diagnosis. The result--I feel like something on the bottom of a really old shoe. Not because I have a child when so many people who want one don't, but because I am so cavalier and complain-y about it.

You see, I never thought about getting pregnant, except how to prevent it. When we conceived the kid, I was haphazardly taking the pill--I figured I'd been on them so long I didn't really have to take them at the same time everyday--and daddy-of-the-kid swears he didn't remove the condom--something he'd done twice before in our then-year-long relationship, so who knows. Anyway, I was a super-regular every-28-day sort of girl, so when I was late, I knew immediately what was wrong (or right, I suppose). I didn't do much gnashing of teeth and wailing--I was in love, I already had a BA and was well into the MA program, my family would be supportive, and the best friend (I have two, btw) Louisiana edition proclaimed herself godmother from day one.

So I stumbled into motherhood with little drama. Except that made up in my own mind--I just knew my kid was going to have every birth defect I read about--and Elle being Elle, I read lots. Eventually, my godmother sat me down after my newborn's PKU stick (which I freaked over) and told me to get a grip. With the help of friends and family, I did. Truth be told, I had it wonderfully easy. My baby had a sweet temperament--very little crying. He wasn't ill often. He smiled a lot. My sister and cousin T got up with him in the middle of the night more than I did. Both sets of grandparents would babysit at a moment's notice. My mom, who still worked nights, provided child care for him while I TA'ed and went to school. When I began teaching, my mom's best friend took over the child care for the unbelievable sum of $30 per week. When we moved so I could work on the PhD, daddy-of-the-kid took on most of the hands-on-parenting.

And still I complained. I didn't like holding bottles and giving baths. I hated lugging around the carrier and car seat. Training took forever and then he was a bed wetter. He doesn't sit perfectly still for the few hours a day I have with him now. He asks a lot of questions, talks non-stop. His grades--4 Bs and 1 C+ last report card--and standardized tests--on which he scores just a little above average--show that he probably will have markedly different interests than his academia-loving mom (shallow as that is, it has been painfully hard for me). My point is that I complain about everything then mumble a little "God, thank you for my child," each night as if that is adequate enough for this wonderful gift that I was given.

And I think of who I do the complaining to. Quinn--though I didn't know about her diagnosis--who has to listen to me over lunch saying things like "Ugh, I don't want anymore," and "Why would anyone have more than two." Both best friends who did silly things like wait to get married/have stable committed relationships and have good jobs before they entered motherhood. So, they were in there late 20s and neither got pregnant on the first few tries. Knowing this, I still said to best friend Texas edition one day, "I'm glad we're older. Hopefully our fertility is declining." She gave me a rare, censorious look.

What reading through those blogs showed me is that, while I love my kid, I don't appreciate him. I don't appreciate being a mother. I don't appreciate the ease of my "unplanned" pregnancy. I give lip service to appreciating my support network, but I take it for granted. When I was 24, I would've had so much attitude if my parents had refused to babysit. The kid's father, to whom I can barely speak civil words, maintains a steady presence. And, this weekend, when I go home, I will barely see the kid because he is so loved and so missed that he'll spend almost each night of spring break at someone else's home. Someones who appreciate this beautiful, cheerful, talkative gift I have.

Poor, clueless Elle.

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