When I speak, women listen. The surprise comes by how many stories are reciprocated. And then the advice: acupuncture, one says, and a blend of Chinese herbs. Or, just go for the HSG because it clears out the tubes and increases your chances, at the very least. Geritol, whispers the next; she claims it gave her a daughter. Tablets of crushed wild Mexican yams and three-thousand milligrams of Vitamin D each day, taken with a cupful of water before breakfast, a dime-sized dollop of progesterone rubbed into the chest twice daily, pH strips to pee on that will tell you when you ovulate, an app to chart basal body temperature, celery for him and fish for you, no caffeine the week of, weight-lifting, no smoking ever, sex every other day for the week leading up to and the week of ovulation, use a turkey baster if you have to, or $10,000 on a credit card for special treatments, have your blood tested, read a book, have some wine (but not the week of) and wait.
Three years is over one thousand days. A lot of homeopathic remedies can happen in that time. A lot of secret-sharing does, too. For every woman I confided to about my miscarriages, I receive a story back. They are common and we are not alone. And that's true. But when a sandcastle is created, the moat must be scooped out by hand. In the same way that space is made for salt water to rush into its valley, so too is space carved within a family to welcome a baby. Infertility feels so tragic because it's inherently anticipatory. There is no reward. The moat awaits, the loss occurs, the trench remains unfilled.
- Maria Fabrizio
We are more than motherhood alone. So why does this emotion twist in the way that it does? It's a question any honest infertile woman will likely corroborate. I don't know why it's so hard to forget that we wanted kids. So instead, I focus on growing a business. I am in school to earn an MFA in writing. I bake for my neighbors and squeeze my dogs until they become uncomfortable.
My brother became a dad yesterday. I held his infant son and this is what I told him:
Strong silence breakers and campaign trails down South; the way your eyes start to open when my hair brushes against your left cheek; men in court on terror and the frightening nod of your heavy head atop a fragile neck. The La Niña winter and brush fires in California; a reminder of floods back home, and the look of a silent scream that accompanies a single tear down your fat cheek. You learn what breathing means in this white onesie that reads, "I was born at MUSC!" because your mother, she has a heart condition and the 90-mile drive was worth it. Your father checked her in at 3 a.m. 24 hours ago. This is the world you inherit.
It is a time of polarity; the way you clutch at my index finger with eyes closed, gassy smile across your face. Today, the Nasdaq is on track to drop again. But here you are, umbilical cord cut and poking against this shirt, medical wrist bracelets the diameter of a quarter. Time Magazine just announced the persons of the year: women whose strong voices echo in the cavern of male dominance. A tax break bill is debated on the Congress floor and you purse your lips to find colostrum. This is the world you inherit. It is full of silent noise in the form of technology that will demand your attention. I listen to your gurgles and here is my blessing: that you will know how dirt feels caked into your nailbeds. Or the lumber of cattle when the herd walks into a pasture.
It's tough shit, kid. You're going to be fine. Seize it. The curves of this world are for you and every other child whimpering to be fed tonight. To all of you, I say this: find your sight in its potential for hope, that ingratiated thing with feathers, too often escaping to the peripheral.
Laura Cannon has lived in Charleston since 2006. She's a member of the College of Charleston's inaugural MFA program for Creative Writing and expects to complete her degree by May 2018.
Maria Fabrizio is an illustrator and designer who strives to create work that invites emotion, is rooted in concept, and sometimes inspires laughter. Find more of her work at mariafabrizio.com.