What If There's No Reward?
I was never the type of woman that imagined how many children I would have, their genders, names and birth order.
My first pregnancy was completely unplanned and I wasn’t married to my partner yet. It didn’t come without challenges, but in the end we had a healthy baby boy. After about three years we felt well prepped to add another person into the mix. We got pregnant on the first try! Perfect, they’ll be about 3.5 years apart and we would have an early fall baby, such a nice time of year!
I couldn’t have planned it better if I tried.
Sadly, two short weeks later I found out the pregnancy was not viable and I was having a miscarriage. The only way I can describe hearing this news is being side-swiped or sucker punched.
We were totally unprepared. No one told us that one in four pregnancies ends in a loss. No one explained that most miscarriages have no known cause and that there is no reason to begin recalling every move I made and every meal I ate to trace back to the exact moment at which I killed my baby. We were clueless to all of these facts.
And here is what I realized-- it’s because no one wants to talk about it.
That’s the simple truth. And the reason no one talks about it is because our bodies are built to make babies. That is what they’re designed to do. The ultimate proof of the power and mystique of a woman’s body is to create another human. It’s unbelievable that we can do this, but people also expect that it should just work perfectly every single time it’s attempted.
Do we realize how insane of an expectation that is? Do you think that every time Leonardo da Vinci put the brush to canvas he came up with the Mona Lisa? Fuck no.
I’m sure there are plenty of paintings that never saw the inside of a museum. Not because they weren’t beautiful in conception or because he purposely destroyed them, but because they just didn’t work for whatever reason.
Do we expect Alex Rodriguez to hit a homerun every single time he steps up to bat? Of course not, that would be ridiculous.
Just because he is the current home run record holder doesn’t mean he hits it out of the park every time. In fact, his current batting average is .273 (a decent number), which means not only does he not hit a homerun every time, he barely hits the freaking ball at all.
Sometimes he hits the ball and someone catches it, you’re out! Sometimes he hits it into a double play, you’re both out. And many times, he simply strikes out. Such promising and fleeting moments that rev up the crowd, only to be met with an overwhelming, “Awwwww”, just seconds later.
That’s what it’s like when a woman has a miscarriage. Everyone gets so excited just to be let down shortly after the good news, except it’s worse. So much worse.
So let’s just dispel all myths that when a penis ejaculates into a vagina a baby is born nine months later. It’s an unrealistic expectation and it perpetuates the stigma and shame around these experiences.
But don’t despair! Of those pregnancies that are achieved, 75% result in a squishy little baby. We were blessed with our rainbow baby this past December. I hate using the word blessed, but when you have a baby there is really no other way to describe the feeling. So “blessed” it is.
So now that we’ve established that human life is nothing short of a masterpiece (or home run if sports are your thang), let’s talk a little more about how the female body is a brilliant artist.
Wow. Bodies are not created equally my friend. A woman’s body single handedly creates a person. A PERSON! I’m sorry but if this doesn’t blow your mind, it should.
I’m a quotes person, and Jim Gaffigan really said it best, “A woman can grow a baby with her body, then a woman can deliver a baby with her body, and then by some miracle, a woman can feed a baby with her body! And when you think of the male contribution to life, it’s kind of embarrassing really”. You can watch the rest of his hilarious stand up here.
It’s really incredible, guys.
But there’s always a downside. And downsides suck. The first, which everyone knows, is that there is a time limit to how long women can do this amazing thing with their bodies. The second, which is so much less understood and accepted, is that some women can’t do it at all. It’s a cruel joke of mother (ironic ha) nature.
When women celebrate their 35th birthday, who just yesterday were healthy spring chickens, will now automatically be categorized as high risk pregnancies and their chance of miscarriage increases. And by age 40, those odds jump to 40%.
I have two beautiful sons and I’m incredibly BLESSED that my body was able to create, grow, deliver, and feed them. But are we finished? Do we want another baby? We really haven’t decided yet.
And time marches on. I turned 34 a few months ago, so if we did get pregnant I would have the honor of being in the AMA pregnancy group. Yay… I’ve also had a miscarriage, so I am well aware that even if I do get pregnant, there is no guarantee we will meet that baby. And losing a baby is devastating. My miscarriage was at 7 weeks and I was already in love with that little peanut. I never, ever want to feel that pain again, and I’m not sure if one in four odds is a bet I’m willing to take.
It makes me sad that I may not consider another baby because I don’t fully trust if this old body can do it right again. Heck, it already betrayed me once and I was only 33 at the time. Can I paint another Mona Lisa? Is the risk worth the reward? Absolutely, no question. The question is whether or not there will be a reward.
Krista kicks a whole lotta ass on many fronts, but mainly by being a mom to two boys and producing a groundbreaking movie. Her writing has appeared on DTATB and PALS, and you can follow her on Twitter here and her movie here.