Our tale begins in front of Jeremy's mom's refrigerator. It is, in a word, perfect. It's a portal to a mythical land where jams and leftovers don't take up permanent sticky residence well past their expiration dates. It is meticulously stocked and laid out in anticipation of her children's wants and needs. The fruit and vegetables are washed and sliced and neatly lined in tupperware. There are little tubs of chicken and tuna salad and roast turkey. There is fresh squeezed apple-ginger juice and pineapple-mint juice (because obviously you need two pitchers of fresh-sqeezed juice). There are bottles of coconut water and kombucha. There are dried apricots that taste so much better because she thought to chill them. I stood in front of this majestic microcosm of a perfect world and said to Jer, "Do you think I'll ever be able to pull together a mom fridge like this?" to which he jokingly said most definitely not. My maternal inadequacy became a bit of a running joke (of my own making) in several moments over the course of the weekend. For example, when we ate Grandma's famous chocolate chip cake we joked that I would never be able to make it with the special secret ingredient (love, of course) that makes it taste so good. When Jer's mom seemingly effortlessly produced a flawless family dinner for a bajillion people I joked again that this was all soooo out of my league.
This wisecracking was all just silliness and fun, but looking back on it I think it reflected a very real paranoia that was ignited as soon as I started having reproductive issues. What if I am just not meant to be a mom? If you knew me pre-apocalyptically, you know this is the LAST statement I would ever make about myself. I, since a very young age, believed in my bones that I was meant to be a mom. I believed that because of this impenetrable fact, that motherhood would come to me naturally in the way that it is clearly so natural and right for Jer's beautiful sisters (who radiate the kind of cool, down-to-earth mommy warmth to which I aspire). But here I stand with the medical knowledge that, although I may have always felt I was born to do this, my body was, in fact, not. I long for it to be a physically natural process for me, but I have to accept that it is just not at this particular point in time. How do I reconcile my long-cherished theory that I was put on this Earth to (among other things) be a mother when my dysfunctional uterus is telling me otherwise? How do I convince myself that it's not the Universe trying to steer me away?
For this and other reasons, I have found myself shying away from children a bit since the miscarriage. This is insane for me, of course, because everyone knows that kids are my thing! Children and I have always had a mutual love, respect, and understanding. However after the diagnosis of having a uterus with special needs, I guess I started subconsciously second guessing myself. I feared the emotions that being around babies would trigger. I feared I would not be able to bear the rejection if a child placed into my arms sensed my tentativeness and began to cry to get away. Perhaps on some level I feared not being able to comfort a little one would be further evidence stacked against my insufficiency as a mom or as a woman. This sounds embarrassingly self-indulgent as I type it, but that is the raw truth of something that has run through my mind many times. It is hard not to take it personally sometimes and so I wanted to lay it out on the internet table in case you are out there thinking it also and feeling crazy because of it. You're not. Or at least we're crazy together and you're not alone.
This brings us back to the hometown visit and the army of perfect littles that were running, skipping, swimming, jumping, snuggling, and playing joyfully around us all weekend. I was gearing myself up to feel crushed by sheer volume of successful pregnancies represented by their beautiful little selves, but instead something very different happened. I didn't think of any of that. All I thought about was playing hide and go seek, was coloring, was filling juice cups, was wiping noses, was cuddling tired babies, and dancing with wide awake ones. I felt myself swept into a family environment where grandparents and aunts and uncles (even honorary ones) pitch in so that love and protection happens as naturally as breathing. And I too felt it coming naturally to me when I was around my people -- the tiny ones. I felt mother energy flow out of me like sunlight in the way I always knew it was meant to. Warm and vibrant and easy. I was given the gift of having the kids reach up to be held by me or plop onto my lap and realizing that I know how to provide for them without thinking. It was a comfort, a reconnection, and a gift that I never expected to be so lucky as to receive from this trip.
Those little ones formed a tiny apple juice-fueled coalition aimed at reminding me that my heart was made for maternal love even if my body wasn't. Maybe the only way to quiet the doubts is to jump in with childlike fearlessness and trust that instincts and fate will take over. This is a knowledge that I am sure my emotions and hormones will challenge from time to time, but one that I will do my best to keep rediscovering. I know I am heading in that direction.