"Baby, I have a problem with God," my wife told me when one of her friends recently announced that she was expecting a child. I told her, "Yes, I know what you mean."
Pregnancy is a polarizing topic in my estimation. I say that because I'm one of the folks out there who would love to be a father.
My wife and I tried to conceive naturally. Next, we went to a fertility clinic.
My firstborn child would've been due this month.
A man remembers certain things in his lifetime. I'll never forget the look on my wife's face when the nurse told us that we had an ectopic pregnancy. I grabbed her hand as she started to cry. Something we put so much work into was all for not. We knew that this would be a possibility, but we held out hope for a different outcome.
I did what most writers do when a personal setback happens, I wrote profusely. I wrote to not think about what happened. Admittedly, some of my best work came out it. I wrote out of rage. I always thought I was passionate about my writing, but I got motivation from a place I would normally deny.
I asked my wife for permission to write this column. After all, I would be discussing something private in a public form. This is something both of us are still sore about. She told me to "Go for it," since I went through this as well.
Right after someone gets married, the first question that is usually asked has to do with children. I get it, though. Usually, that's the next step in the journey of most married couples.
Pregnancy announcements are bittersweet for me.
On one hand, I'm happy for my friends. On the other, jealousy creeps in. I want to make that type of announcement one day. I asked myself, Why not us? We're good people. Why is it some folks conceive without really trying?
I know that type of thinking can make someone resentful, but how I am supposed to feel? It is OK for me to be a little pissed off about it. Lots of people have kids and can't even take care of them.
For five years, I worked in the emergency room at the University of Illinois Medical Center. I checked in many expectant couples. Right after we lost our unborn child, I checked in a couple. As I started to ask them the standard questions, I noticed that the expectant mother had a black eye. That was it for me. I took a couple days off after seeing that. My wife had just gone through something traumatic. I thought I should be with her instead.
You can imagine how I feel when I hear stories of people mistreating babies. Last year, a body of an infant was found in a book bag. Those are the types of moments that make me question humanity.
My wife even questioned her Catholic faith. When someone does that, you know they're deep in thought. We got married in a Catholic Church despite the fact I'm not Catholic myself.
Social media is a big part of today's society. You can't help but come across a Facebook timeline full of baby pictures. In most cases, the children grow up right before our eyes via social media. Each and every day, I get a dose of what I don't have. I've learned to not think about what happened in such a negative way. Remorse can consume someone to the point where they forget about the positive things they have going for them. I didn't want to be that guy.
I was well aware that the questions were going to come. I was resigned to the fact the questions were going to be asked as long as I didn't have a child.
Frankly, I hate the questions. I know that people aren't being mean by asking me. After all, my wife and I kept what happened to ourselves for the most part. The questions still sting though.
I never really showed any outward emotion about it. I felt I had to stay strong for my wife. She was having a tough time. It broke my heart to see that.
Friends consoled me as best they could. However, most of them have kids of their own. They had no idea what it is like to lose an unborn child.
Then, an expected conversation about a shared hardship happened.
A coworker and I were hanging out having a beer when he asked me if the wife were trying to have a baby. I said to myself, Oh shit, here we go. I gave my standard answer in such matters, "Yeah we're working on it." Unexpectedly, he told me that he and his longtime girlfriend had been trying for years. They even went to the same fertility clinic I had been to. Next, we compared stories. I got what I had been looking for. A person who knows what it's like to swing and miss so often at what most have accomplished during their lifetime.
I needed to vent. So what if it took some whiskey to help get that out of me? Everyone around me had kids, so they had no experience to glean from. I knew that they meant well, but their words didn't mean much to me.
Men in my demographic are much maligned for not being around when it comes to raising children. I grew up in a household with two parents, one of whom was a strong father. I want to provide the same stable environment my parents provided for me. I think that isn't too much to ask.
You might be wondering what this column has to do with love. Well, I would love to be a father one day and I love my wife. I think that is a good start.
My wife and I have grown even closer because of this hardship we shared. We often tell each other that our time will come. She is the toughest woman I know. She has been my biggest supporter when it comes to my writing. I wasn't going to let that fall to the wayside.
A few months ago, my wife asked me if I wanted a boy. I told her I want a child. Before what happened last summer, I would have said a boy, but a "child" is good enough for me.