I find it easier to be around a baby than it is to be around a pregnant woman.
I'm not saying that being around a baby is a piece of cake 100 percent of the time but, in general, bellies are worse than babies. For the longest time, I couldn't understand why I felt this way. It seems silly for one thing to bother me and not the other. After all, pregnant bellies and babies usually go hand in hand.
On Monday evening, I had the privilege of meeting up with Wannabemom for dinner. For two hours, we sat and talked about anything and everything you can think of related to infertility and life--from our frustrations with our bodies not operating the way they should to what parenting will be like after infertility. When I mentioned to her that I had this internal conflict between bellies and babies, and that I was getting ready to post a blog about it, she agreed.
Jealousy isn't a word that sits right with me, so I'm not going to use it. Instead, I'll call it envy. I'm envious of pregnant bellies. It doesn't matter where I am or what I'm doing, when I see a pregnant belly, I have a reaction like none other. It makes me cringe, and I feel my face contort into this expression that I try so desperately to control. I try to look away, but I can't! I'm a sadist. I stare and stare until one of us walks away or until the woman gives me a look as if she thinks I'm going to grab her baby straight out of her uterus and make a run for it. (Sidetrack: for a great post about infertiles and baby stealing, go read Mel's post from earlier today.)
Obviously, I'm not into baby stealing, but I'm sure that's how it seems to the poor pregnant woman on the other side of the stare.
But when I see a baby, that tense, nervous, crazy feeling doesn't usually happen. Because I'm not envious of the baby. I don't want what that baby has; I want what that mother has. I want to know what it feels like to have a part of me and a part of my husband merged together and growing inside of me. To have a little, beating heart deep within me. To feel a baby's legs kick against my belly. I want to be able to rub my tummy--not in the way that you do when you are full after a great meal, but in the way that you comfort your baby, letting them know there is someone on the outside waiting to meet him or her.
I want to be that mother.
We all try to do the noble thing and give the benefit of the doubt. Like Wannabemom said over dinner, no one knows what that person went through to get pregnant. That pregnant belly could be the result of an IUI or IVF. It could have been years in the making. That woman's journey to become a mother could have been a lot longer and harder than any of us could even imagine. But, in the moment, you don't think about those things. You don't think about that woman's story or their road to motherhood. All you can see when you look at them is you: what could have, should have, and would have been. It's like seeing a reflection of the past or future, or maybe a vision of your innermost thoughts and dreams. You see that woman and you wonder, will that ever be me? Or, is that what I would have looked like?
You wonder, will I ever come out on the other side and be able to call a baby my own?