Last night, for the 414th time, I heard it again:
The unintentionally-offensive-you’re-lucky-you-only-have-one-kid remark.
You know the kind. It also comes in the form of, “Is she your only?” and “only children are so lonely and spoiled” and “I would never do that to a child, have them be the only.”
This time, instead of a meltdown, it was nothing a knowing grimace from my husband couldn’t fix. This time, instead of letting it stab me like a knife, it was a momentary wince and I moved on. I watched my daughter trot from house to house, collecting candy gleefully.
Today, I was thinking about how much I’ve had to fight.
First, I thought about how much I’ve fought to have a second child. I tried for two years. My husband and I tried having sex every other day, at points. We got pregnant – to have it end in miscarriage, and to have a D&C I had to fight for because it was a holiday and no one wanted to stay late at the hospital. I paid $1600 for acupuncture that wasn’t covered by health insurance, took herbs and stopped running. A family member paid $500 for a failed IUI that wasn’t covered by health insurance, and since we don’t have 7,000 extra to spare, an IVF or even extra IUI’s were out of the question.
Second, I thought about how much I’ve fought in my life thus far.
In early school years, I fought to understand why the students at school hated me because of my weight, and I fought to understand why I was being touched by a classmate inappropriately in the fourth grade and why no one was doing anything about it, even though I told them. I fought to understand why drug paraphernalia was in my house at a young age. I fought to understand why people wouldn’t just leave me alone as I became smaller and smaller, since it solved everything anyway.
I fought harder still in college to understand why I couldn’t drink like everyone else, why guy friends had to carry me home after I insulted or hit one of them. I fought to understand why my father refused to accept that I had an eating disorder, as a social worker confronted him in treatment. I fought to educate family members, close ones, that I needed to eat at certain times during the day right out of treatment, and that I just wasn’t trying to be a nuisance to older family members. I fought to stay sober, one day at a time, and fought to make family members understand that my sober anniversaries were actually a big deal and something I wanted to be recognized for.
I unsuccessfully fought to have extended family members unconditionally love me after I spoke my truth about our family, and fought to have in-laws see me as something more than “that antisocial girl who’s too serious”. I fought to understand how the bomb near the finish line my husband stepped on somehow didn’t detonate during the Boston Bombing. I fought to get my dad’s brain researched after he died, just like he wanted, packing ice around his head. I fought back snarling insults as I felt others’ judgment about choosing to live with my mother and bipolar brother. I fought tooth and nail to climb in my chosen career, only to live paycheck to paycheck. I fought for my marriage in couples therapy as it floundered.
So yes, I guess you could say I’m tired of fighting.
And I’m good with fighting anymore, for anything else, including a child.
In fact, I’m all set.
If you want me, come and get me.
I’m gonna go ahead and liken infertility to a regular old loss. It doesn’t hurt any less as the years go on; you just get more used to dealing with it. You get used to the remarks, seeing bright, shining pictures of families with at least two siblings beam at you from Facebook, and you feel that old, familiar pain. But this time, it’s in the rearview mirror.
I have a family.
And I have me. And I tell the truth. And a lot of people don’t like that and never will.
And despite what a lot of people think, I’m fucking remarkable.