It’s growing up always being told I was the “mothering” type; making sure everyone’s around me is happy, well-fed, and content. Bandaging my friends’ scrapes and cuts, being there with tissues and a shoulder to cry on when things went wrong, trying to keep my more unruly friends in-line during Girl Scout meetings, looking forward to the day when I could become an “officially licensed” babysitter because I knew even at a young age that I had a natural affinity for those tiny humans we call babies.
It’s reading Harry Potter for the first time and identifying more with Mrs. Weasley over any other character, and vaguely modeling who I wanted to be as a person after her best traits.
It’s lying in a sleeping bag, in the dark at sleepovers, talking into the wee hours of the morning with my best friends about what we hoped our lives would be like when we grew up. Sure my dream jobs, descriptions of future spouse or ideal living spaces were always in flux from musing to musing, but the one constant was a home full of the pitter-patter of little feet running around.
It’s sitting years later in a stiff, cold, blue chair in my endocrinologist’s office at the age of thirteen, and having my entire world fall in around me as she tells me it will most likely be impossible for me to have my own children.
It’s my mother trying to cover up her sheer horror by jokingly saying “But you were my last hope for grandchildren! It’s not like your brothers will have kids…”
It’s guilt. And shame. And anger. A lot of anger.
It’s keeping it a secret from my closest friends for so long, and then when I finally tell them, having them freeze and say the wrong thing like, “You’re still young. Why are you worrying about this so much? At least you won’t be on “Teen Mom”, am I right?”
It’s going out to the movies with my friends one Friday night, only to find out we were all supposed to go to see Tina Fey’s “Baby Mama”, proceeding to cry silent tears throughout it because I was looking at my future, and then getting enraged at the ending because, my god, was that a cop-out.
It’s sitting at a table in the high school cafeteria, my friends gossiping around me about whichever girl was supposedly knocked up, listening to them adolescently slut-shame her as I was sitting there silently, going through misplaced envy.
It’s going to college and having to find new best friends, new people to maybe trust with my secrets, only to have them ask ignorant questions like, “If you can’t get pregnant, why are you on birth control?” or, my personal favorite sign of stupidity, “That means you don’t have to use condoms! Isn’t that amazing?!”
It’s starting to get intimate with people I really liked, and then trusting them enough with my secret, because not telling them would feel like a lie by omission, and having them ruin it by trying to use it as an excuse not to have sex with a condom. “It’s not like I can get you pregnant. It’ll be better this way. I promise.” It’s the confusion on their poor, stupid faces when I start crying and yell at them to get out, slamming the door behind them as they go.
It’s logging into Facebook one morning to find my newsfeed full of ultrasound scans and expressions of congratulations pouring in, and later down the line, notifications of first steps, first words, first birthdays.
It’s remembering this little fact about my life, out of nowhere, one day as I lay in bed just after waking up. It’s not leaving my room for the rest of the day, and then the next not telling anyone why I wasn’t taking calls.
It’s sheepishly revealing to a group of very liberal girlfriends one day that I am in-fact pro-life even though the rest of my political leanings are quite left-wing and having them tear into me for it. “How can you even believe that?”, “Who are you?!”, “Don’t you know that it’s a woman’s body, so it should be her choice?” Yeah, well where was my choice in the matter. It was sitting there and taking it, because I knew trying to explain would be useless. They’d never understand.
It’s trying to have a relaxing day of retail therapy and walking through department stores and instead having your heart sink as you pass the brightly colored, adorably decorated section full of miniature tutus, onesies and bibs.
It’s having your coworkers tell you that you would “make a really wonderful mother” and replying with, “I know. I would.” And then excusing yourself because you feel you might be sick in a moment.
It’s growing up, making bonds with people you know you’ll be friends with for life and once again, revealing your secret. The responses are better now that everyone is older and understand the severity and magnitude of such an admission.
It’s going on a walk with one of those same, in-it-for-life friends, late one night and the conversation somehow taking a turn to where she offered to be a surrogate mother for you down the line, when you were both older and settled.
It’s going home that night and sobbing into your pillow because you can’t decide how you’re feeling. On one hand, it was so beautiful and selfless of her to offer, and on the other hand, you resent her for being able to offer in the first place and hate that this is your life, that the one biological function your body is supposed to do, it’s incapable of.
It’s one day beginning to do the research and being absolutely horrified at how much adoption costs and how arduous the process of even applying to be considered is. Why is it such a big to-do when in the end it’s just putting a baby into a good home where it will be loved and looked after?
It’s worrying incessantly and hoping your future spouse won’t reject you when the day comes they find out they won’t be getting biological children if they want to be with you.
It’s the constant battle of trying to explain to people how much it hurts to have internalized the idea that you’re somehow “broken” and that sometimes, things just are not okay.
I hope this was a good start.