Maybe that was a lot, that last post. One of my best friends told me over a string of text messages from the other side of the country that it was. Sorry Jess.
But I’m not sorry. Not really. It’s how I felt; feel. It’s how I feel. I was going to write an abbreviated, candied version of what the last year going through IVF has been like, but it felt wrong to trivialize it. I thought maybe I’d wait until it was all over and I was pregnant (hopefully) and could write about the whole thing from a bigger-picture perspective that was more optimistic. But that didn’t feel right either. There’s something about detailing the process that is cathartic. And maybe, selfishly, I needed that.
So instead of writing the equivalent of a passing conversation you’d have with someone you hadn’t seen in a while in line at the grocery store, I thought I would instead sit down and write about it as though you and I (whoever reads this) were talking over a macchiato and almond-chocolate croissant in a cafe somewhere in the city instead. Tell me if it gets weird.
I guess I should start with some backstory. I’ve always wanted to be a mother. Ever since this little kid Jake hijacked my heart and there was nothing I could really do about it. At the time I was in college working afternoons at a preschool and he had just transitioned from the three year old class to the four year old classroom where I worked. He was sweet and infectiously happy and had these kaleidoscope blue-gray eyes. He would scout the playground for beetles during recess and when he found one, he’d cup it in his hands delicately and bring it to me like he’d found buried treasure.
It was his first day in our class and the school day was coming to an end. It was time for everyone to get ready to go home. He took his jacket and little back pack out of his cubby and put them on. One by one the kids’ moms and dads arrived to pick them up until it was just Jake left. I sat with him, legs criss-crossed on the alphabet rug, and told him we could play a game while we waited. He rummaged through the toy box and came back with two dinosaurs – a big brontosaurus and a little raptor. He handed me the big one and kept the small one for himself.
“Let’s play dinosaurs”, he said.
“I’m not sure I know how to play dinosaurs”, I admitted.
“It’s easy, I’ll show you.” he reassured me, taking the dinosaurs into his hands.
“Ok, you be the mama and I’ll be the baby”, he said to me.
He moved from the rug to my lap. In front of me, he made the dinosaurs talk and dance in the air. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Kids like to play games like that. After twenty minutes or so, his dad came in – out of breath, rushing, apologizing for being late. I could tell by the way he said it that it wasn’t the first time this had happened. I told him it was no worries, that Jake was great and I didn’t mind. After they left, I was picking up the dinosaurs to put them back in the toy box when the person cleaning the floors came in.
“He’s a good kid”, she said smiling. I turned and looked at her. “His dad’s always late, he works 45 minutes away. No mom either, she died.”
I thought back to the dinosaurs. I learned later that Jake’s mom had been diagnosed with late stage cervical cancer while pregnant with Jake and refused chemo to save him. She died when he was just 18 months old. Over the next two years, I scheduled my classes around spending afternoons in the preschool classroom. I started driving him home so his dad didn’t have to rush. That led to being his nanny while also juggling school and two other night jobs. We would swing on swings in the park, I’d take him to karate class and give him the “thumbs up” on the sidelines, and on his birthday we’d go to the museum downtown that had the giant T-rex skeleton. When I finished my last semester of college and left for San Francisco, I remember leaving Jake’s house for the last time in my old Honda civic. His little hands waving at me from the end of the drive way saying “goodbye”. His dad and his new girlfriend (now wife) standing behind him. I drove away that night thinking “one day I will have a Jake of my own”. One day I’ll be the mama dinosaur.
That’s why all this is hard. It’s hard because it’s something I’ve, we’ve, wanted for a long time now and at the moment seems so far away. One day there will be a little human, but for now he or she is just an idea, a thought, a distant daydream we have to keep reminding ourselves isn’t a reality. Not yet.