Beauty from Ashes

More than a year ago, my husband and I decided to have a child. We had decided to get married and decided where to live and where to work, and this was another decision that would need input from God, but like the other major decisions we made at the dawn of our thirties, it was ours to make, ours to control.

I grew up believing that pregnancy was a condition that could flare up at the worst point in a young woman’s life, especially pretty girls like me who weren’t careful and didn’t use protection – and that fate was to be avoided at all costs. Good, pretty girls with bright futures do not get pregnant before they are married – this was the naive, ignorant me talking who hadn’t yet met women who did exactly that and blew me away. I believed that the smart ones knew how to cross Virginity Road and still stay childless through their roaring twenties. I mastered the ‘pull and pray’ method in long-term relationships where there was enough trust to negate condoms, but no ring or promise to care for the child we might share. I can remember being twenty-three and high-fiving the mirror when my period came, literally wiping my brow in a sigh of relief and promising the angels it wouldn’t happen again. (Then doing the same damn thing all over again.)

People always tell us we’ll have beautiful children. They say they can’t wait to see what the child will look like because we are the most beautiful couple they know. Sometimes (but not always) I go quiet when they say things like this, using simple mathematical equations to block out what is only meant to be kind and encouraging. My teacher said two negatives make a positive, but what would two positives make? If you multiply a positive by thirty-something negative years, would it produce a positive or a negative? Can a negative be an integer and if so, is it a whole number? And finally, When will this conversation be over?

You begin the ‘let’s have a baby’ journey so casually, so fucking nonchalant about the when and if it happens because you know it’s going to happen, it’s a just a matter of when. You aren’t phased by their gentle reminders that you’re getting older because you’re wearing a strapless bra and a new blouse that falls off the shoulders, making you feel young. You shrug, brush the dust off and go home to roll around in bed with a man that loves you, loves every inch of you, and loves practicing. He isn’t in a rush, neither of you are. “We trust God,” we say back to them, almost offended that they’d rush us into doubt when we have been taught our entire lives that God is good and everything comes in His perfect timing.

In the sixth month of trying you get serious about it, and I mean serious. You pee on a stick every single morning and monitor your health like never before. When you pack for trips, you pack your basal thermometer first, then your toothbrush. You feel determined with every app you download, and suddenly life becomes all about the green squares, showing you when you are most fertile. You feel confident until you tell Diane that you’re not drinking because you’re trying to have a baby and she shoots back with, “Drink ‘till it’s pink” (meaning the pregnancy test). So you swallow down your $12 glass and tell yourself to relax. It’ll happen, and these champagne bubbles are mama’s helpers.

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