Thursday, December 06, 2012

A Tale of Two Bears

So I was in Target, tonight. If you want to know the truth, I was there buying supplies for, well, my period. I tell you that because it's kind of relevant, if I want to make this all fit in together in a nice, neat way: I'm on my period, and it's more intense than usual, because USUALLY I am on birth control, and I am not know, nor have I been for the last several months.

I have not been on birth control for the last several months because, well, because I want to have a baby. That does not mean I am planning on getting pregnant now. What it means is that my body keeps insisting on it, and that makes it way harder than you'd think to take a pill that will prevent it. You wouldn't expect that to be the truth, but if you think about it, if you're going to get up, find a pill, take it out of the package, and then swallow it...well, all of those things require your body. Your body has to be in on it. If your body doesn't agree, then it's not getting done without some serious help.
So a few months ago, when this was in super high gear, my body was just out-and-out refusing to take a pill. Then there was a bit of a pregnancy scare, so I decided not to take the pill till that was over, which of course, was my last period. Then there were some logistical problems, so I decided to wait until after my next period to start again. And this is that. So...wish me luck that my body consents to start it up again, after this is done.
This is all to say: I was in Target.
I noticed this display that said if you bought three coke products, you get this free, stuffed polar bear. I like coke products, and my brother-in-law collects coke paraphernalia, and I had not finished my shopping for him yet. So I decided to buy the coke products and claim the polar bear.
This was difficult. I did not have a cart. I had only come in to buy supplies for my period. So now I'm holding a basket full of period supplies and trying to wrangle three coke products and a stuffed polar bear on top of that. Then, as I'm leaving, I walk by the pet supplies. I remember that I have to buy a present for the dog at the office where I freelance, because I plan on delivering my office Christmas presents soon. Then I realize, I should pick up a toy for my dog.
So now, I'm wrangling a basket full of supplies for my period, three coke products, a polar bear, and two dog toys.
I get home. It's late, I've been out all day. Everyone here-- my parents-- are already asleep. My dog is not.
When you come home with shopping bags, my dog wants to know what's for him. I start to give him his toy, and I realize it squeaks. I realize everyone is asleep. I give him a treat instead, but he still seems agitated, so I put him out.
Then I look at the polar bear. I like it a great deal: it's cuter than I thought it would be, and I feel slightly tempted to keep it. But I don't need it: as fate would have it, I already own a stuffed polar bear.
No, this isn't a thing. I'm not one of those adult women with a ton of stuffed toys. I just...I have this other polar bear. I got it at Kohl's one day with Zack, back in San Diego. I'd been having a bad day; it was going to be something of a bad night, too. I picked it up to comfort me, the polar bear, and I always associate it with that night.
So, this new polar bear? No room for it. I'm not starting some...stuffed polar bear collection.
I put away some other stuff. I bring the dog in. I get distracted, I go downstairs, I multitask. I'm preparing to put all my gifts for my sister and her husband in a package that's being sent down to them when I realize the polar bear is missing.
Long story short (too late), it turns out, the dog has taken it upon himself to claim the new polar bear as his own, having known that there was something in the bag intended for him that he never received. This shouldn't have surprised me. He did the same thing with the polar bear I brought home last year, at this time.
So I pick it up off the floor and assess the damage. Dog spit has matted the fur in a few places, but that can be cleaned off. The damn thing is still as cute as ever...but, no, the tail has been ripped quite obviously, and there's some kind of small, mysterious stain in the fur on it's butt. It's no longer in gift condition.
So now I have two stuffed polar bears.
The thing about the stain is, I don't know if the dog caused that. It's small, and subtle. The polar bear from last year had one, too. A pink spot above the eye. I noticed it, and thought at first to put the bear down. Then I thought "No one will buy this one if I don't, because it's stained." So I kept it-- I wanted it to have a good home, I wanted to keep it safe, and care for it. The cashier pointed out the stain and asked me if I'd like to exchange it, and I refused. 
I called that polar bear "Pink Eye."
I held clung to Pink Eye as we left the store. A year ago. I was upset, I had been all night, but I couldn't place why.
Clinging to this stuffed toy, a year ago, looking at it's adorable face, it hit me all at once as we left the store. I went over, and sat on a bench near the front of the store. Zack followed me. I was quiet for a minute.
Then, "I've decided I want to start trying to have a baby."

All you need to know about his response is that it was underwhelming. I carried around the disappointment with me for a few hours, talked about it with a friend, and then, eventually, we unpacked everything. I told him that I'd been having trouble taking my birth control lately-- remember, this is a year ago, not three months ago. I told him that I felt like it was the right time. That I'd done everything I'd hoped to do before we started trying to conceive. That I was worried about how long it might take, and thought we should start trying sooner than later. That we'd been together long enough. I told him, my body feels ready now.
And he unpacked his reasons for his underwhelming response: that he was worried about the future. The future of his job, which was as yet-- and is as yet-- undecided. The future of where we would be living. The future, well, of us.
Our relationship had always been rocky. He wanted it not to be, before we started trying. It was a valid concern. Really, it was. But we'd been together 8 years already, by then. I guess I felt like, if we weren't committed by now, would we ever be? How much longer would I have to wait?

There are a lot of reasons I left. A lot of them have been outlined or referred to in other posts. A lot of you who will bother reading this know a lot more. But the thing is, the timing here can't be ignored. Zack and I were having troubles, sure. But I'd dealt with a lot of troubles for a lot of years. Nothing that was happening when I left would have been enough for me to leave...but for the fundamental difference in the way I was starting to feel about my life.
I wanted a baby.
I want a baby now, and I can't have one. But the wait is a lot shorter with the man I'm with now than it would have been with Zack, if Zack and I were to wait until the future felt certain. If Zack and I were going to wait until we both felt positive we were going to stay together forever.
The bullshit irony of it is, if I'd had a baby with Zack, I never would have left him. I would have fought tooth and nail to keep our family together, no matter what, and so would he. I think about it a lot: how different my life would have been if he'd just said, "yes."
I might be pregnant right now, if he had. I might even be holding a child. I'd be halfway across the world, and I'd be with him, and I'd be holding our baby.

I mourned that baby. That baby that never lived. When I realized, that baby-- the one that was his, the one that was ours-- would never be conceived, would never be born, I mourned. I use to lay in bed sometimes and talk to him about our future, then I'd hold the warm, imaginary body with with two hands tucked under her armpits, thumbs on her chest, and I'd bounce her a few times, and them I'd hand her to him. He'd balk a little, but soon enough, with a little chiding from me, he'd put his hands in that position, and he'd bounce our child.
Our child that never was. I can't even hold my hands in that position anymore.
I mourn that baby.

So I brought the new bear downstairs, and I looked up at Pink Eye. Now I have two bears, and no baby. I wondered, when, exactly, all of this happened. I thought to myself, it must have been almost exactly a year ago. So I looked it up, I looked up the conversation I had with my friend-- with Dan-- the night that it happened, that I told Zack I wanted a baby, and I got a bear.
A year and a day. December fourth last year, December fifth this year. A year and a day ago, I bought a bear. I bought another bear tonight. But tonight, my life is the polar opposite of what it was.
I lived in San Diego in an apartment with my husband, and my life was all about him, and my life was all about keeping us together. And I wanted a baby.
Now I live in Maine, in my parent's basement, and I spend most of my nights alone, with my boyfriend away at college. And I'm trying to make mt life more about me, than about him; than about either of them. And I'm alone, and sad, a lot of the time. And I want a baby.

It's hard waiting. It's hard, waiting to have a job that I might not ever get, and the money I might not ever earn. It's hard waiting for the young man, who wants to give me what I want, to get older, while I get older. It's hard believing it's gonna come true, this time.
Maybe sometimes, he has a hard time understanding why I can't wait. Maybe he doesn't understand what the fear is to me: that the child I feel, so real inside me when he holds me from behind and places his hand low on my belly, that that child that is real and clear to me in my mind will slip away, as suddenly and completely as the other child that I loved slipped away. That she will vanish, our little girl, consumed by uncaring circumstance and leaving nary a trace behind her. That there will be nothing for me to cling to as grieve for her, nothing to give my pain substance and a sense of reality. That there will be nothing to remember, nothing that ever was, except my love for everything she was supposed to be, again. That I will be left, forever a mourner, and never a mother.
I can't even hold my hands in that position, anymore.

On with it.