By: Meika Rouda
I have a friend who has recently become pregnant after two years of trying. She is in her late thirties and has two other kids, ages 9 and 6, that she had no trouble conceiving. She and her husband live in LA and have struggled financially; her husband’s funding for his start-up recently fell through and he has had difficulty landing a job. Their lives are a little uncertain, their modest house filled to the gills with the two kids and a live-in nanny who commutes each week from Tijuana. Their families were not supportive of their plan to try for another child. They thought it was crazy –they had no money and already had two beautiful, healthy children. But my friend always wanted three kids and felt that now that she had her own business, as a life coach, she could dedicate more time to a new baby, something she was unable to do when she had a full-time job when her other two kids were young. So despite their families’ protests, they continued to try.
When it didn’t happen quickly, she considered fertility treatments or adoption but both were too costly. A cost she could not rationalize when she already had two kids, a boy and a girl. She turned 39 in September and said she had “stopped” trying for a child. Little did she know she was actually already pregnant.
She relayed the story of how this miracle of creation happened to me the other day:
“Meika, over the summer, I started to eat gluten-free.” She is gushing like this was the key to all life’s problems.
“Then my daughter asked me to stop volunteering one weekend a month at USM (the spiritual psychology school she attended). So I respected her wishes that I spend more time with my family and told the school I needed a hiatus.”
She takes a breath; she is speaking quickly, the frenetic pace of excitement.
“Then my rabbi went to Israel and had some seeds blessed. He gave me the seeds and I put them in my belly button while I slept.”
“Uh huh,” I said. I was familiar with this world of doing seemingly ridiculous things in order to help conception. She forgot she was talking to someone who drank soup everyday for 6 months, didn’t eat gluten, sugar, or raw vegetables and waited in line to see Amma, the hugging guru, to ask for a baby to appear in my uterus. I knew what it was like to do unimaginable things, waiting for the miracle of conception.
Then she concluded, “I got pregnant, just like that. I didn’t even know I was pregnant, my cycle has been so crazy but it just worked!”
“Or maybe it just happened.” I said, with a flat tone. Maybe it was just the right egg and the right sperm and the right time. Maybe it had nothing to do with gluten and seeds and volunteering. I say this because sometimes you do all the right things, pray, eat strange diets, walk on the right side of the street, talk to gurus, sleep with fertility dolls under your pillow, take fertility drugs, take tests, stand on your head after intercourse, avoid tight jeans and aerobic activity and still don’t conceive. I know this because I did all those things.
So as happy as I am that she has her wish, that her dream and “miracle” happened, I think sometimes things just happen and sometimes they don’t. And I know that it may feel nice to think she helped her conception, that she aided her body in producing a baby, but maybe it was just coincidence.
There was a time when I really resented pregnant people. I was jealous and angry that my own body, with all the acupuncture treatments and herbs and special diets and exercise and faith and hope wouldn’t bear a child. Thankfully I don’t feel that way anymore. I have tried to forgive my body and know that things do work out, even if they work out differently than you planned. But when I hear people like my friend declare all the things they did naturally to create a pregnancy, it stings. I wonder “does she think I didn’t do enough?” or do I think I didn’t do enough?
There is nothing I cherish more than my children. They are so much a part of me, they feel like they came from my body. I can’t imagine loving them more. So my dream of motherhood is fulfilled, and while the guru didn’t produce a pregnancy, my hope of having a baby did come true. But I realize that what I will always find sad is that my body failed me. I wasn’t able to participate in our female right of giving birth. It is assumed as a woman that you will get pregnant and have children should you decide. But when that decision doesn’t become fact, it changes how you look at your body, how you feel inside. Especially when there is no conclusive reason why. When you have good eggs and good sperm and clean tubes, it is just unexplained. It just doesn’t make sense.
What does make sense is that people need to follow their own paths, do what they need to do to feel like they tried everything they could. They need to “give up” –oh, how many times people told me “as soon as you give up on having a baby you will get pregnant.” Or “as soon as you adopt you are going to get pregnant.” It is unnecessary false hope, something I think people think you want. But I don’t believe life works like that. I think life is a series of unplanned events and how we deal with the curve balls is what makes us who we are.
So I wish my friend well with this new baby, and if she feels it was the blessed seeds from Israel that created her conception, more power to her.