I know intellectually that it isn’t true but yesterday I got hit hard by the feeling, the feeling that my childlessness is proof that there is something inherently wrong with me, a sort of scarlet “I”. I know it isn’t true. You don’t have to tell me that it isn’t true, I know it isn’t. Yet it feels true. Yesterday I was in a room filled with mommies. They were all young, beautiful, with Pilates bodies and pretty and perky dispositions—and then there was me. I felt like the wallflower in the corner that no one asked to dance. I sat alone at a table keenly aware that we had nothing in common. I know shit about formula or cribs or what kind of diapers are the best. And I sat there feeling all kinds of shame and loneliness. Every now and then I could feel their eyes looking at me, I tried to imagine their fantasy of me. My version of their fantasy is likely untrue. I won’t bother to write it. It seems too massochistic to give space to.
I was sitting and waiting for someone to arrive. It was a someone that I didn’t know. He was running late and my my thoughts were running wild. Something about sitting and waiting took my mind to the last time I was sitting and waiting for someone that I didn’t know. She was a famous person. You may know her. She is big and I was so very excited to meet her. This famous someone learned of my infertility and she wanted to know every detail of my infertility journey and then she told me, ” I don’t really want to have kids. I don’t really think I do. But I am going to. I am going to have kids because I don’t want to miss out. If I don’t do it now, I might regret it. And I just don’t want to regret it.” This famous woman continued to ask me details about the expense and the pain and the ordeal of it all. She didn’t ask out of concern or compassion for me, her questions were for the purpose of information gathering. Not once did this famous woman apologize for my cruel fate, the way someone with empathy might do. Not once did my childlessness impact her line of questioning. Once I told her all of the stats of how many shots, for how many days, and what the side effects were and how much I paid, she then wanted me to know about the very famous sperm donors she had lined up and what great insurance she had and how very certain the doctors were that she would easily get pregnant. I sat there waiting, my mind vacillating between the Pilates-bodies mommies, the fear that I might be stood up and wondering if this famous woman had gotten pregnant by the famous sperm.
The guy arrived. The Pilates mommies disappeared into the background and all thoughts of the famous person left my mind. But when the meeting was over I had the undeniable feeling that I had been punched in the ovaries when I was otherwise occupied. I managed to look and act and walk and even drive like a functioning adult, but it was all an act. When I got home I had one thing on my mind and that was spaghetti and meatballs. I knew that this craving would be considered emotional eating and for the first time in over six months I found that I just didn’t give a shit. I wanted what I wanted and I didn’t care if that meant that tomorrow morning, when standing naked, I would see a two pound weight gain on my red and pink striped digital scale. I filled a large bowl with cold spaghetti that had been sitting in a sealed Ziploc bag since whenever He-weasel had overestimated his hunger( and this was not the low carb/high protein and tasteless kind that I usually make) . I covered the Medusa mass of simple carbs with an unintentionally healthy turkey marinara sauce. When I waited the interminable three minutes for the aforementioned ingredients to heat, I got out the parmesan and a big tablespoon and waited, like Pavlov’s pups, for the bell to ring. I eschewed the key ring of measuring spoons that I usually use when I am going to be dispensing something as calorie laden as cheese. I instead used aesthetics to determine exactly how much of the powdered parmesan was needed to complete this feast of deserving. I hungrily stabbed my fork into what looked to my dieting eye to be a serving fit for a family and worked with determination to make the noodles and the meat and the cheese disappear. I was successful in my task. When the bowl was empty I felt no guilt. None. I looked for signs of fullness and felt none. I looked for hunger and found none of that. For the next hour I scoured my mind and body for feelings of discomfort, shame, or guilt. There was none. I did find sadness, but that had been there before the spaghetti. I looked down at the empty bowl and saw something, something that made me cry; I saw emptiness.