Before I even push back the covers and sit up, I know that my period has started. In the bathroom, I confirm it, slightly pink-tinged underwear and blood on the tissue.
I start to cry as I wash my hands.
Scott calls through the door, “You okay?”
I’ve woken him with my tears.
“Fine,” I sniffle, “I’m taking a shower.”
“Alright.” A moment’s pause and then, “You need a towel?”
I nod, knowing he can’t see me but not trusting my ability to talk without crying more. I know the pause was his sleep clouded head registering why I am taking a shower. I never take a shower first except on days when I have my period.
I turn the water on and steam soon fills the small room. Scott taps on the door just as I pull the shower curtain closed shutting me into my own private space. The door opens a crack and without him saying anything, I know he is hanging a clean towel on the rack for me. He pushes the door shut with a soft click as he leaves.
In the shower the hot water beats on my back and I let the sobs I was denying take over. My eyes sting and I can’t seem to catch my breath; I gasp and lean against the tiles letting the water wash the tears from my face. I know that if Scott hasn’t gone into the kitchen yet, he can hear me. Although he is use to the tears now, I try to stop.
This is ridiculous, I tell myself, we aren’t even trying.
But every month it is the same, hoping against hope that an accident will happen even though I monitor my cycle like a scientist with an experiment. I chart, I take my temperature, figure and refigure, count days and track symptoms. I have to. It is a habit now forged when I took medication that would have damaged or killed any life within me.
Eight years I spent taking rat poison daily until finally I had enough and begged my doctor to help me find an alternative. When he refused, I stopped seeing him and started a holistic regiment of vitamins and minerals that achieve the same results.
Eight years I spent knowing I couldn’t…shouldn’t do what I so desperately wanted to do. I stopped talking about it after the first year. It hurt too much. I focused on work and crafts and anything else just to not think about a baby. I told myself all manner of lies to make myself feel better about not having more children.
A month ago, I was out to dinner with my mom, sister and nephew, when my recent back trouble was at the most painful. I squirmed all through dinner – sitting hurt far more than standing. As we were getting ready to leave, my sister suggested that I try leaning on the railing of the deck where we ate and let my hips and legs just dangle to alleviate some of the pain.
Willing to try anything at that point, I did as she suggested to no avail. By back hurt just as much and I felt silly hanging on the railing.
“You and your odd hips!” my sister joked.
“They aren’t odd,” I said patting my hips as we made our way back into the restaurant proper, “I’ve got good child birthing hips.”
She gave me a funny look. “You do,” She said. “You should have had more children. You’re a good mom.”
Thankfully she looked away because otherwise she’d have seen the tears start to well in my eyes.
This morning I wake up after, once again, a night filled with dreams of pregnancy. I have them four and five times a month, usually between ovulation and the start of my period. I touch my stomach and sigh. The clock reads 6:21. I must have hit the snooze a half dozen times trying to stay in my dreams. Scott is making noise in the kitchen and soon I know he will come in to drag me out of bed.
While he is dressing, I tell him of my dream; he shakes his head and tells me I need to find a job or more hobbies to keep me occupied. But his gaze doesn’t meet my eyes. He tells me this because he too wants another child and it is easier sometimes to ignore the yearning.
We’ve talked about it before, having more children. Had I not been diagnosed with PE shortly after Cyra was born neither of us doubt there would have been more children.
Twice in the past year, when alcohol muddied our senses and gave us cause to not think or worry, we played the two week waiting game. Twice I spent two weeks holding my breath, hoping, dreaming, thinking about names, picking out color schemes for a baby afghan. Twice Scott spent two weeks asking me how I felt, looking at my stomach, telling me “it is what it is,” then grinning as he suggests boys names.
In a few months Cyra will be 10, a few months after that Ashleigh turns 16. Maybe I am yearning now because my girls are growing up and I miss the babies and toddlers and little girls that they were. Maybe, as oft cited in magazines, my biological clock has kicked it into overdrive…hyper-speed. Maybe I am already anticipating an empty nest.
But I doubt it.